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What length leash do I buy?
Just slightly longer than the length of your board
The leash is there to keep you tethered to your board so that if you happen to fall off, your board stays nearby. The longer the leash, the longer it takes you to reel in your board. Also consider that if you are a 5’6″ surfer, riding a 9′ board, with a 10′ leash, you fall off and your board is flopping around in the whitewash, that creates about a 25′ radius of potential disaster for a surfer paddling out. For that reason, the shorter the leash the better.
But what length is too short? Imagine you are riding an 8′ board and borrowing your amiga’s 6′ leash. You fall off, your board gets pulled by the whitewash to the extent of your leash, then the nose spins back towards you, you have 2 extra feet of board that has the potential to nail you in the head.
So…. you want a leash that is just longer than the board you’re riding. One thing to consider is that leashes will stretch out a bit after a few sessions. So if you have a 7′ board or even a 7’2, a 7′ leash is fine. But if you’re riding a 7’6, buy an 8′ leash!
Jackie uses a 7′ leash with a 6’6″ board.
What is the difference between off shore/on shore winds?
Offshore winds are best for surfing
Offshore winds” are winds blowing from the land out to sea, “onshore winds” blow in towards the land from the ocean. There’s also sideshore, side/offshore, side/onshore, etc.
Onshore winds blow in the same direction the waves are traveling. The wind pushes the waves along more quickly, making them break faster and crumble onto themselves. If the wind gets blowing hard it will create lumps and bumps on the sea surface which confuse the waves and make it hard to surf.
Sideshore winds blow from left to right or vice versa. It all depends on the strength of the wind, but usually sideshore winds are better than onshore winds but not as good as offshore. A wind blowing from left to right will blow into the face of a right and sometimes act almost as an offshore wind if you’re traveling in that direction. It might hold up the right, smooth it out, etc. If you’re going left, it may push you along even faster than you’d be traveling otherwise, but there may be some lumpiness to deal with. Sometimes sideshore winds can be effectively blocked by a pier, jetty, or cliff face, neutralizing their affect.
Offshore winds blow against the breaking waves. This type of wind smooths out the surface, holds up the lip of the wave, making it break more slowly and evenly, and sometimes holds up the lip enough to create a hollow space beneath it and allow a surfer to ride in the tube. Of course the strength of the wind comes into play. If the offshore wind is blowing really hard, it may make it hard for the surfer to paddle into the wave and the salt spray blown off the top of the wave can be blinding.
It can sometimes be tricky to tell which way the wind is blowing. Look for a flag nearby, or study the leaves in the treetops. Stand on the beach facing the waves with your hair down and notice which way it blows, if your hair is blowing in your face from behind, grab your board and run out there!
What are the advantages of different fin set ups (tri, quad, single, twin)?
They all feel different and it’s a matter of personal preference
Surfboards have evolved from having no fins – early surfers rode pieces of wood without a fin – to having multiple options. It’s relatively common to see surfboards with as many as 5 removable fin boxes these days. If you look at professional surfers – the ones competing for world titles on shortboards on the world tour – 99% of them are riding “thrusters” which means a board with three equal-sized fins. If there was a fin number that worked better, they’d be using it. True, you will see some of the more experimental surfers like Kelly Slater and Dane Reynolds pull out a quad (4 fins) sometimes, but for the most part even those guys are sticking to 3. The thruster setup was designed by an Australian named Simon Anderson in 1980 and since then has become the standard for shortboards (a shortboard is normally 6′ +/- 2′).
Longboarders, however, usually ride either single fins, or a tri-fin setup that has one big middle fin and two smaller side fins, although you do sometimes see a longboard with three equally sized fins.
The difference of feel between all the different variations is complicated and personal. You won’t ever get all surfers to agree on what’s best in general, or even what’s best on any given day for any given board or any given wave. We can however set out some generalities.
1. Having 3 equally sized fins is the standard for having speed, control, and turnability.
2. 4 fins and twin fins feel fast and loose, since they don’t have that fin in the middle for stability.
3. Single fins feel stable but may not feel as fast.
What fin setup is right for you? You’ve just gotta try them all and decide for yourself!
What does someone mean when they say the surf is “walled up”? (I didn’t know if that was good or bad)
Walled up surf is usually bad
Imagine a brick wall of a wave coming at you, topping down on your head… A wall of water can be good or bad depending on the length of the wall. In general if someone says “the surf is walled” it means that the wave is standing up and coming down all at once, which doesn’t allow the nice tapered area to ride on. Of course, a short steep section could be called “a nice wall” and that can be a good thing if you know what to do with it!
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