Surf Faster With a Few Easy Tips
There are two types of surfers. Those who want to surf faster and those who lie about it. While there is no substitution for experience and time in the water, there are a few easy tips you should know to help you surf faster.
Ride A Flatter Board
Board design starts with the rocker, which is the curvature of the surfboard’s foam. General principles dictate that more rocker will result in a slower board that turns well. As you get to the flats of a wave the rocker will push water instead of gliding over it. A flatter rocker will plane easier and work very well when you don’t have larger waves to help generate speed.
Sanded vs. Gloss Finish
Although there is some disagreement in shaping communities, a sanded board is thought to ride faster than a gloss finished board. The main reason is the gloss finished bottom does not hold any water on it while riding the wave. The water beads right off. This sounds like a good thing, but a sand finished surfboard will actually trap some water along its bottom surface allowing a film of water to slide along water. This trapped film of water will reduce friction and make the board slick and lively.
When asked about this theory, Erik Nordskog, founder of On It Pro, offered his own insight.
"In the high performance boating industry, we found that a sanded finish works better on a displacement hull (v bottoms) since there's more hull pushing through the water," explains Nordskog. "On a hydro plane, a gloss finish works much better! This is what a surfboard is more like! A sanded finish on a hydro plane hull actually will trap air with the water which slows the boat down. A gloss finish is the only way to go."
Try A Quad
One of the major advantages to a quad fin surfboard is the speed it offers. Thrusters (tri-fin) offer more directional control, but the back fin causes drag. A shaper will design the underside of a surfboard to channel water out the back of the board. A quad has no back fin to obstruct this water flow, producing less drag. A quad will generally surf faster than a thruster and won’t lose as much speed in turns.
Keep Your Bottom Clean
We have mentioned before how important it is to clear wax from the bottom of your surfboard. The hydronamics involved with board design require you to clear all substances from your board. This includes dirt, salt, sand, and anything else you find under there. To remove wax you can use a straight flat surface (old credit card, library card), a hair dryer, hot sand if you’re on a beach, or some eco friendly board cleaner.
Apply Some Product
Nordskog's company makes a product called Extreme Cream, designed to lower the friction of your board on water. Erik mentioned the fact that although sand finished boards will make some boards surf faster, they have drawbacks.
“The idea of sand finish is the water molecules collect in the pores, giving you water over water. That’s fast. You have slick over slick. Our product is actually more slippery than water. A sand finish will attract dirt and the salt. All the elements attract to it, it’s just filthy and hard to clean. There’s no need for a sand finish anymore.”
We were intrigued, so we asked why this substance won’t simply rub off once in the water.
“People have used a lot of different things over the years, like car wax. It might look good but it creates friction. Any other kind of material comes right off immediately. Nothing sticks and stays. When you have a polymer it instantly starts to bond with the poly surface or the epoxy surface very well.
"It helps the little guys because they don’t have the paddling power and speed. It also helps them connect sections easier. For beginners its good because they can paddle faster and get into the wave easier. Pros can shred more because they get more speed."
Change Your Fins
SurfScience holds the opinion that fin development has the most potential for changing the way we surf. In most instances, fin design on surfboards has not changed much since the 1950s. If we don’t start to use better technology, then we should at least take advantage of 50 years of research. (Look here for information on experimenting with surfboard fins)
A fin’s sweep is the degree to which the tip extends beyond the fin’s base. Fins with a large sweep will propel the board faster and remain fairly stable, but you sacrifice some turning ability. Fins with a smaller sweep give the surfboard a tighter turning radius, but don’t offer as much stability. A more rigid fin will also offer more speed. Be careful not to go too rigid, or you will have trouble turning.
Surfing with speed will enhance your skills and your overall surfing experience. It obviously helps to learn how to read a wave and stay in the sweet spot, but your equipment can make a noticeable difference. With a few simple changes you can make more sections, complete more turns, and become a better surfer.