Monday, March 27, 2006

Suction + Tension


Suction + Tension = Hang Ten

As we look through the magazines we see lots of photos of the ‘Hang Ten’. Virtually all ‘Tens’ are impressive, yet certain types are more impressive than others. These are the ones where the rider is far back in the pocket in the most critical part of the wave, but he looks calm and poised. The board is in perfect trim while the front of the board and rider are hanging above the water. Upon closer inspection it looks impossible. How does it happen? Let’s take a deep look at the forces at work.

Suction: First to get to the ten, the board must be sucked into the wave. Gentle curves change water flow over the board and create suction. Round rails suck water over the deck of the board. The weight of the water helps stabilize or counter balance the board so the rider can get to and stay on the nose. Also, curve through the bottom of the board will suck the board to the wave. This suction from the bottom of the board starts happening when going fast due to the long bottom curve.

To see how suction works, take a spoon and put the rounded end under the faucet. If you have never done this, you may be shocked by how much a spoon is sucked into the stream of water. The same forces make hanging ten possible.

Forward Trim

A long noseride in trim takes preparation. First, you must have a feel for your board. The board’s dynamics dictate where you’ll go and what you’ll do. As discussed earlier, the flat bottomed/low-railed boards will noseride further out on the flatter sections while the softer railed boards will hang ten in the steeper sections. On the flat-bottom boards, when you are looking down the line and a nice section is forming, the best rule is to ‘charge’ the nose early. The basic goal is to stay on the nose as long as possible before the wave gets too steep. On a long, slow point you can hang five for a long time, or if you are very light, hang ten. The downside is that as the wave gets steeper and things start to get exciting, you’ve got to back-off or slide-out sideways. Even worse, as the wave gets steeper the crowd takes notice of you and just as they hope to see you hang ten, you back-off to keep your fin in the water.

If you are on a proper noserider, charging the nose too early is a critical flaw. You have to pick your line so that you’ll get maximum speed while not out-running the steep section. It’s all about cutting back and stalling before the section steepens up. The back door approach is best: wait as long as possible before positioning the board parallel with the wave and starting the walk. If you walk too early, the board will stall and you’ll sink out the back of the wave, or you will not be able to accelerate fast enough to keep up with the wave when it starts to peel.

Noseriding is about keeping your hips to your ankles loose. You can’t force anything while hanging ten. The best approach is to watch the wave get very steep around you and just keep walking. Hang your toes over and just relax. A properly balanced noserider will find it’s own trim while a flat-bottom will spin out no matter what. The most important thing is to keep focusing down the line and aim the board with your toes to the next section. On a mushy wave, the wave may break around you and you can still be hanging ten. On a hollow wave, the lip may be inches from your hips, but do not back down. Just bend your knees and look to the shoulder. Once you see the wave slowing, it is time to back-off the nose, but if the wave is just slowing you can un-weight on the inside rail and push down on the outside rail. This slows the board while keeping it in trim as the next section forms.

There is a test to find out if you are in good trim. If you can take your hand and put it into the lip of the wave while you’re on the nose, you are in trim. If you can’t, then there is another world of imp0rovement.

~from Tom Wegner at

Local Report:

The North Coast was fine this morning too. I was the 1st guy in the water and caught my share. As the tide started to go out, the waves got better-more top to bottom and really clean. A couple of feet overhead, but they had some juice to them too and they held up. The peak was shifting all over and if you were in the right spot, a bowl would be all yours. Waves had to be feathering to catch 'em and I got a couple of really nice long rights.

...perfect morning, light offshore and all alone for hours...sets were a couple feet overhead and holding up.


Patch said...