Surfing terms courtesy of the famous Willis Bros
These surfing terms: are from the world famous Willis Brothers. Mike and Milton showed me the magic formula and gave me priceless information on surfing, big wave surfing and board design.
I surfed with the brothers on several occasions and enjoyed them being in the water with me, after the surf Mike would get the guitar out and play some tunes as the sun set on magical Oahu’s North Shore. Mike and Milton are GSD’s legends, if you are ever in San Diego, go visit them. Their website is www.willisbros.com
Avalanche: Any big wave that is breaking; a name for a surf spot located in Hawaii.
Backdoor: Taking off behind the peak on a hollow wave; name for the hollow breaking right at pipeline in Hawaii.
Bail out: Abandoning ones surfboard before getting wiped out by the wave either paddling out, or while riding the wave.
Back off: When a wave coming in hits deeper water and starts to reform or disappear.
Backside: Surfing with your back to the wave, a goofy foot going right, or a regular foot going left.
Baggies: Men’s surf or swim trunks.
Barney: An inexperienced surfer or one who acts immature.
Bluebirds: Huge waves breaking out side of the normal breaking waves.
Board: Short for surfboard.
Beach break: Waves breaking over a sand bottom.
Blank: The foam used to shape a surfboard.
Bodyboard: A small soft foam “board” used primarily with swim fins, and ridden prone.
Bodysurf: Surfing the waves without a board. (Swim fins optional).
Bomb(s): Large and very large waves.
Bombora: Australian term for big waves breaking further out.
Brah: Hawaiian slang for brother, (Brudda).
Choppy: Ocean wave conditions that are rough not smooth.
Cannon ball: Going into the fetal position during a wipeout.
Caught Inside: Surfers that are inside the breaking waves and can’t get to the outside smooth water because of the white water
Clean: Good conditions, good waves, and good surfboards.
Clean up: A wave or a set of waves, which break over or on surfers, clearing the line- up.
Close out: A wave that breaks all at once. A wave that peels, and then breaks all at once.
Cord: The urethane leash used to attach the surfboard to a surfer.
Corduroy: When a series of swells are stacking up coming in from the horizon.
Cutback: Switching directions from surfing away from the curl, back towards the curl.
Deck: The top side of the surfboard.
Dipping: A short board maneuver used when paddling out to get under and through on coming waves.
Ding: Damage to a surfboard.
Double up: When two waves combine.
Da kine: Hawaiian slang for good or the best.
Dawn patrol: Early morning surf session
Drop: The water level from crest to trough. (Surfers take the “drop”)
Drop in: Catching a wave and going down the face; catching a wave late and then standing up in front of someone already ridding.
Dude: California slang for guy.
Face: The complete front of a wave.
Fade: Dropping in towards the waves curl rather than with or away from the curl.
Fan: A trail of water sent shooting out momentarily suspended in air; the result of a high powered or quick turn.
Feathering: When waves are about to cap or break; the very first sight of white water at the top of a wave, just before it breaks or spills.
Fin(s): The rudder(s) used on the bottom of surfboards for control.
Fins: worn on feet to give more power when swimming, or body boarding.
Floater: When the surfer rides over the top of the wave and then comes back in.
Foam: The material used to shape surfboards out of; the white water of a breaking wave; the bubbles left over from a breaking wave.
Front side: Facing the wave while surfing.
Glass job: The protective fiberglass coating used on a surfboard.
Glassy: Very smooth ocean and wave conditions, also “sheet glass”.
Goofy foot: Someone who surfs right foot forward.
Gnarly: Intense waves, individuals, or situations.
Green flash: The green color that sometimes occurs for a moment as the sun disappears over the ocean during sunsets on clear days.
Going-off: Very good waves; very good surfing.
Gun: Surfboard designed to ride big waves.
Hit the lip: When a surfer maneuvers the surfboard up to meet the lip of the wave as it is coming down, and then comes down with it.
Hammered: Taking a pounding from a wave.
Hard core: Extreme.
Hollow: A cylinder shaped wave.
Impact zone: Where waves are breaking.
Inside: Surfing in the tube of a wave; being positioned on the shore side of the breaking waves.
Kai: Hawaiian for ocean or sea.
Kaiko: Hawaiian for strong current.
Kick out: Ending a ride by turning out or off of a wave.
Kook: Someone who pretends to be something they’re not.
Leash: The urethane cord used to attach a surfboard to a surfer. (see cord).
Left: 1. A wave breaking to the left from the vantage of a surfer riding in.
2. A wave breaking towards the right from the vantage point of the shore.
Line up: Were the surfers are sitting; where the waves are breaking; a marker on the beach used to position off of.
Lines: The unbroken series of waves coming in.
Lip: 1. The part of a wave that pitches out.
2. The top of a breaking swell.
Locals: Long time regulars at a particular surf spot, or area.
Long board: Any board 3 feet longer than your height with a wider rounded nose, (front).
Lull: A momentary gap or break in the waves.
Mushy: Non-powerful waves that crumble.
Nalu: Hawaiian for wave(s)
Nose: The front of the surfboard.
Offshore winds: The direction of the wind when it is blowing from the land towards the ocean.
Ono: Hawaiian for good or great.
Onshore winds: The direction of the wind when it is blowing form the ocean towards the land.
Outside: A wave that breaks further out; the position of surfers on the backside of the swells.
Outline: The circumference of a surfboard.
Overhead waves: Higher than a person’s height over the falls: A wipe out where a surfer goes over with the breaking lip of the wave.
Peak: The highest part of a wave. The position where a wave first breaks.
Pearl: A wipe out where the nose of the surfboard goes under the water.
Peel off: A wave that breaks perfectly access the shore without spilling in front of itself.
Pitching out: When the lip of the wave throws outward.
Phat: Slang for nice, good, or great.
Phazer: A surfboard designed with a dimpled bottom.
Point break: Waves breaking off and around an outcrop of land; the name of a movie involving surfing.
Pop-up: Getting to ones feet, after catching the wave.
Primo: Good, excellent, also the name of a Hawaiian beer.
Pumping: Quick turns to gain speed; non-stop good waves.
Rail: The curve on the sides of a surfboard.
Reef break: Waves that break over a bottom other than sand.
Regular foot: A surfer who surfs left foot forward.
Right: A wave breaking to the right from the vantage point of a surfer riding in, a wave breaking towards the left from the vantage point of the shore.
Ripping: Surfing well.
Rail grab: Holding the surfboard with one hand usually while going backside in the tube.
Rocker: The bottom curve of a surfboard from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail.
Rubber arms: Faking going for a wave, or when surfers’ arms are exhausted.
Roller coaster: Going from the bottom to the top of a wave and then back down.
Section: A segment of a wave that is walled or lined up.
Set: A series of outside breaking waves.
Shape: The form of the waves; the contours of a surfboard.
Shooting the curl: Angling or trimming with the breaking part of the wave.
Shore break: The inside where waves spill, usually shallow.
Short board: A small surfboard.
Shore pound: Shallow hard breaking waves close to the shore.
Shoulder: The unbroken edge of a breaking wave.
Side shore: Winds coming across from right or left rather than in or out.
Single fin: A surfboard with only one fin.
Sleeper set: Usually the biggest wave of the day that catches surfers off guard
Slop: Mushy choppy waves.
Snake: A person who drops in late on another surfer already ridding; dropping in on another surfer.
Snapback: A quick short radius direction change.
Soft board: Surfboards made of soft materials for safety.
Soup: The white water from a broken wave.
Spin out: A wipe out where the fin(s) of a surfboard fail to hold in the face of the wave, causing the board to slide out from under the surfer.
Spit: The spray of water that shoots out of a collapsing tube or hollow wave.
Spray: Water being blowing off the face of a wave, the “plume”. The release of water from a surfboard as it moves along; especially strong after quick turns.
Sponge: A body board.
Sponger: Someone who uses soft body boards.
Stall: A maneuver intended to slow the surfboards’ forward momentum in order to let the wave catch up, or to get in the barrel.
Straight off: When a surfer angling can’t make a wave, the surfer turns the surfboard straight toward the beach to ride the white water in prone.
Stringer: The wood centerline in surfboards, used to give the board more strength.
Stick: Slang for surfboard.
Stoked: Extremely happy.
Surf spot: A particular location that surfers like to ride.
Surf wax: Wax that is used for traction, and applied to the deck of fiberglass surfboards.
Tail: The back end of a surfboard.
Template(s): Outline or pattern for shaping surfboard(s).
Thruster: A 3-finned surfboard.
Trim: Surfing with the wave in an unbroken line or a perfect angle.
Tube: A hollow breaking wave, when a surfer rides inside a hollow breaking wave.
Turn turtle: While paddling out, rolling the surfboard over fin(s) up, and hanging on when confronted with a wave.
Twin fin: A surfboard with two fins.
Victory at sea: When the waves are very choppy and windblown.
Wipe out: Falling off while surfing; the disastrous effect after falling off while surfing a wave.
Zipper: A fast breaking wave.
Zone: Where the waves are breaking; when rhythm, timing and flow come together.