The Environment Of Surfing (Part II)

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Surfing --
The Environment of Surfing (Part I of II)

Surfing has changed since Christian missionaries observed Polynesians in the waves centuries ago. Light, new materials and a variety of board shapes have opened surfing to more people while allowing expert surfers to ride more waves in different ways. In the US, surfers can be found along the Atlantic seaboard and from Alaska to Baja on the Pacific side of the nation (and, of course, Hawaii).

Choosing Your Style
The first surfboards were heavy wooden boards over 10 feet long, and 11- to 14-foot boards are still used for tandem surfing, where two people ride together. Today, most surfing is done on longboards of 9 to 11 feet or on shortboards, around 7 feet or less.

The style of surfing
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They include beach safety and learning to read waves. If you cannot swim, you should not surf -- you may think you're safe attached to a large flotation device, but what if your leash breaks?

When you learn to read waves, you'll be observing how frequently the sets come in, where the wave is breaking, and how well-formed (and surfable) the wave is. Every surfer takes time to watch the waves before getting in the water, and sometimes what they see is that the beach isn't good for surfing that day.

The best way to learn to read waves is from an experienced surfer. But not all of us have a good friend who wants to help us work into the local surf spot (more about territoriality later). Fortunately, most US surf areas have local surf schools in operation, some that even offer teaching trips to warm-water vacation spots like Mexico.

Doing Your Homework
Surfing is a remarkably dynamic sport. More so than in other outdoor sports, the surfer is at the mercy of the environment. A complex blend of geography, wind, tide, and swell can make the very same beach a small and mild longboard haven one day, a stiff and challenging platform for shortboard acrobatics another day, and a messy jumble of pure danger at other
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