Terms Used When Evaluating Waves

There are many terms that are specific to surfing. Most of them apply to waves  At the most elemental are the terms that are used to describe the direction of the wave spell and break.  Swell direction is important to surfers.  A “Left” wave breaks from left to right.  A “Right” wave breaks from right to left.

There are several terms used to describe small waves.  Capillary waves are the first small waves created deep in the ocean when the low system begins–baby swells.  Corduroy waves are a series of rolling waves that do not crest.  With crumbly waves are when the lip of the waves crumble along the edges.  Offshore waves are created when the wind blows from the ocean toward the beach.  This can cause closeout waves break on the beach or reef at the same time.  The wave is breaking a long its entire length at the same time.  It can also be called by shallow sea floor topography.   It can also be called “shutting down.” This makes the waves crumble.  Winds can also cause chop waves.  They are little waves caused by moderate wind. One thing all these types of waves have in common is that they are unsurf-able.

As a surfer you want to hear that grinder waves are coming in today.  These are powerful breaking waves that are coveted by surfers.  Glassy waves have a smooth face.

The next post will take a look at popular surfing locations.



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