Let’s celebrate this time of year when the chilly water temperature is finally receding. Soon we will have warmer seas for surfing. The ritual of surfing and routine of being outdoors can be an anchor this year more than ever, making sure our spirit and fitness have not been in hibernation. We can also appreciate what surfing has to offer, no matter where we are enjoying the waves.
Speed: Do you ever try to keep up with cars while riding your bike or when you are out for a run? Or wonder how fast you are actually going when you are on a wave? The average speed of a car in city traffic is around twenty miles an hour, which is surprisingly slower than the speed measured by some pro-surfers on a wave. You may not know it, but you could be surfing around twenty-five miles an hour on a big day.
Animals Love It: Friends in San Diego regularly surf with dolphins, and the seals out east have been known to drop into the line-up every once in a while. While the seals aren’t necessarily surfing, the dolphins might be. Just like humans, they repeatedly and intentionally surf the waves, not because there is a threat, but because it’s fun. Humans may be more competitive, but we are all out there for the same reasons. We would love to surf as a means of transportation as dolphins do, using less energy and being more efficient in our travels. And for all of us, the behaviors associated with surfing are natural ways of bonding.
We Mimic the Animals: Speaking of sea life, much of surf technology owes a great deal of appreciation for the creatures in the water that show us the way. Fins that control your board were once made of wood, and now we have other materials for greater stability and ability to turn the board you are riding with ease. Whale flippers are the latest inspiration to keep us (and them) nimble yet powerful. You want to keep you turns under control, graceful and tight when necessary, so fins that are flexible make sense. As for the surface of the fins, bumpier may be better for gripping the water even at slower speeds, since the channels of water created by the bumps release water at accelerated speeds.
We also look to animals to keep us warm, in and out of the water. Sea Otters and beavers inspire our wetsuits, with fur that keeps them dry (and warmer) when they go under water, thanks to the pockets of air that get trapped in their fur. Maybe companies will start producing our wetsuits in shades of brown.
Energy Sources: According to our Wind Farm Developer friends on the west coast, about ten percent of the world’s power can be generated by the renewable energy of powerful waves. Anyone that has seen these monster waves, has surfed them, or has been held down and pushed around by them, knows the power of a wave. The energy that is transferred from the wind to the wave is possible as long as the wave is traveling slower than the speed of the wind. Waves off of the coasts of Portugal and Chile that can reach one-hundred feet or more can power over thirty million smartphone batteries. The untapped power of the wave is astonishing.
As you continue your surf regime throughout the spring, keep in mind that the pay-off of warmer water is closer each day. We will travel soon, and we love the fun facts of surfing, and most of all we just love to surf.