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Water Sports – Surfing


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Surfing is a kind of water sport where the surfer is carried along by a breaking wave towards the shore. Apart from surfboards body boards, kneeboards, surf skis and kayaks can be also used to surf. Various sports involving surfing are sea kayaking, paddle boarding, kite surfing and windsurfing. The first two do not require waves and winds, while the other two does. Surfing has become more of a true, athletic profession as it has now grown into a multi-billion dollar industry.

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Initially the sport began when people used to lie down on hard wood boards and surf in Hawaii. Lieutenant James King who wrote journals on Captain Cook and completed them after his death set the first record. The surfboards were made out of huge and heavy wood, which were difficult to maneuver. They were substituted by lighter balsa wood surfboards in 1940s and were relatively easy to maneuver by the surfer. The boards were later made out of polyurethane foam, polyester resin and fiberglass cloth with multiple layers of wooden strips. The latest technology in surfboards now is the epoxy or carbon fiber surfboard. To surf in colder regions, its advisable to wear wetsuits, boots, gloves and hood to protect from cold-water temperatures, which can sometimes lead to hypothermia. There are different styles of boards; like the egg, or the long board style, short board, fish or short and wide board with a swallow tail (split tail) and gun with a long pointed tail meant for big waves.

Swell is important for surfing. When the wind blows over a huge area of water, called the wind’s fetch, the water wave rises, called the swell. The stronger the wind is the more the swell. Surfers can find the perfect spot where there is a low pressure system being experienced by a large coastline. A moderate strength offshore wind can form a perfect wave without small breaks. The topography of the seabed beneath the wave also affects the wave formed.

The sign of a good surfer is that he is able to find and catch the wave before other surfers can even realize the wave was catchable. Beginners find it difficult to catch the wave at all. Once the wave is caught, the surfer can stand on the surfboard and stay in front of the curl of the wave, also known as the white water. The wave carries the surfer and takes him in a forward direction. A skilled surfer is able to take total charge of a challenging situation and at the same time comfortably  maneuver through it (i.e. curving or turning on the wall of the wave). Some tricks practiced by experienced surfers are floater, cutback, air and off the lip. The most difficult trick is the surf inside the tube formed by the closed curl of the wave.

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Surfing has dangers like any other water sport, the major being drowning. The surfer must at all times keep calm and focused during a wipeout to avoid any mishap during a wipeout. In some cases, the surfers can loose their consciousness and the surfboard can be entangles in a rip current, so it is advisable not to surf alone. The nose or fins of the surfboard cause nearly sixty six percent of injuries to surfers. The water can infect the cuts caused by them. There can be possibility of colliding with objects under water like corals and rocks, which can sometimes even lead to death. Sea animals, like shark, jellyfish and stingrays, should be watched out for.

Surf forecasting is done to aid surfers and help them enjoy their experience. It involves information technology involving mathematical modeling to represent the wave in a graphical manner. This gives an idea about the direction and size of the swells in the oceans around the world. There are many surf forecasting websites where a surfer can get all the necessary information before going out to surf where artificial reefs are constructed with all the factors under control. Wave pools also have been built to attract tourist, but the count is less because of the huge cost involved.

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