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The ultimate surfing dictionary

  • A-Frame noun
  • A type of wave that breaks both left and right from center. Forms a peaky 'a' shape.
  • Barrel noun
  • The hollow part of a breaking wave. Aka tube. Verb forms include 'getting pitted' 'getting barreled' and 'getting shacked'
  • Beachbreak noun
  • A break where the waves break over sandy seabed rather than a reef or rock. Beach breaks generally feature waves breaking across the length of the beach instead of from a single point as with a pointbreak.
  • Blown out adj
  • A term used to describe generally messy wave conditions caused by on shore winds. Blown out waves are choppy and lack a predictable break, making them hard to judge and surf.
  • Closeout noun
  • A wave that sharply breaks all along its length at once instead of gradually breaking or 'peeling' from left to right or right to left. Almost always, closeout waves are undesirable.
  • Cutback noun, verb
  • [n] a move in which a surfer turns back towards the breaking wave. [v] to turn one's body and board back toward the breaking wave in a snapping or carving motion.
  • Dawn patrol noun
  • Heading out to surf around sunrise or first thing in the morning.
  • Double overhead adj
  • A term referring to waves measuring about 10-12 feet or twice as high as an average person.
  • Duck dive noun, verb
  • [n] A maneuver used to submerge one's board and body underneath an oncoming wave when paddling out to avoid losing momentum and getting pushed back by the wave. [v] To dive under an oncoming wave. Usually only possible on shortboards.
  • Fish Noun
  • A type of surfboard designed in the mid 1970's with a split or 'swallow tail'. Generally about 5.5 feet long and 21 inches wide, a traditional fish surfboard is fast and buoyant but not as manueverable as a shortboard.
  • Glassy adj
  • Refers to conditions with very little chop, bumps, or ripples in the water. Smooth, glassy conditions are usually caused by off-shore or no wind.
  • Gun noun
  • Originally a term for 'elephant gun', a long skinny board used for surfing big waves.
  • Head high adj
  • Rough measurment used to refer to waves that are 5-6 feet high or around the height of an average person.
  • Kook noun
  • An inexperienced surfer who gets himself or others in trouble by dropping-in on on other surfers, ditching his board or engaging in other improper or dangerous acts. Don't worry. Everyone is a kook at first.
  • Left noun
  • A wave breaking from right to left if you are viewing it from the beach. If you are facing the beach and the wave is behind you, it is breaking right to left.
  • Lineup noun
  • The spot in the water past the breakers where surfers wait or 'line up' to wait for waves.
  • Offshore adj
  • 'Offshore' refers to anything moving from the beach or shore and out towards the ocean. See Offshore wind
  • Overhead adj
  • Rough measurement used to describe waves 6 feet and higher or over the head of an average person.
  • Party wave noun
  • The pinnacle of coolness and fun, party waves were invented by the mustached surfers of the 1970's and later perfected by longboarders Chris #1 and Chris #2 during the infamous tuanis summer of 2008.
  • Pitted adj
  • The result of pulling into a barrel. See 'getting barreled' E.g. 'I got so pitted at Padang. This phrase became a bit of a joke after the infamous 'dumb surfer' YouTube video.
  • Pointbreak noun
  • A pointbreak is formed when water moves towards the beach and breaks on a 'point' such as a rock causing a gradual sweeping sideways peel. Malibu, in southern California, is probably the most famous pointbreak in surfing. Also a movie starring Patrick Swayze (R.I.P.).
  • Right noun
  • A wave breaking from left to right if you are viewing it from the beach. If you are in the water, facing the beach and the wave is behind you, it would be breaking left to right.
  • Right-hander noun
  • See Right
  • Shortboard noun
  • General term used to describe high performance boards for carving, cutting, turns and airs. Shortboards are usually between 5-7 feet in length.
  • Thruster noun
  • A board with three fins set up beneath the tail in a triangle pattern. Allows for higher performance than a traditional single fin setup but can also create more drag.
  • Tri-fin noun
  • A three fin set up. See Thruster