MikeFairbanks wrote:A conundrum:
Longer, wider surfboards are easier to paddle, paddle faster, and catch waves easier and often long before the wave becomes steep.
Shorter boards turn better and fit steeper waves better, allowing for more high-performance surfing. But they are inefficient to paddle and catching waves before they become steep is very difficult.
Longer boards are great for smaller waves and bigger waves.
Shorter boards are good for medium to medium-large waves but require a lot more skill to paddle and catch waves.
Shorter waves are easier to handle when paddling out to sea, as they have the ability to be pushed a few feet deep, thus, ducking under the oncoming waves (this is called duck diving).
Both are a lot of fun and each is an important part of any surfer's enjoyment of the ocean. In other words, neither is better. They simply serve a different purpose in the wave-riding experience.
However, the problem is large waves. Large waves are not only taller, but are thicker and cover more area from the front of the wave to the back of the wave. They also travel much faster than smaller waves, and this is where the problem lies.
A surfer needs a longer, wider board to simply catch a large wave, due to the speed involved. Simply put, a six-foot surfboard doesn't catch a ten-foot wave as easily or as early as a longer board. By catching a big wave with a longer board, it enables the surfer to get to his feet and plot a course a few seconds earlier than on a shortboard. Therefore, the wave has not reached a critical steepness.
Once the surfer catches the large wave on the longer board, and is trimming properly (riding at a stable angle) he wishes for the maneurverability of a shorter board in order to better increase speed (through a pumping action of the body, similar to using your kinetic energy to increase your movement on a swing). The shorter board also turns better, causing a more radical ride, including the ability to fit inside the breaking section of the wave known as the barrel, tube, greenroom, etc.
One way to combat this conundrum is to get someone on a personal watercraft to pull you (like a waterskier), which helps you to reach or surpass the speed of the wave. This enables the surfer to spend a good ten seconds choosing where to position himself on the wave, rather than catching it as the wave is at its steepest, most critical point.
So I had a mental idea: What if a device could be placed into the shorter board that would temporarily propel it to a greater speed than it could be paddled. I'm not talking about electric, gas, or anything other than human power. Weight is absolutely critical. The average shortboard is about 5-10 pounds, depending on length, thickness of the resin and fiberglass, density of the foam core (the blank), etc. So adding even ten pounds would turn off most surfers. Plus there are motorized surfboards out there, but they are clunky beasts that few are going to want to ride (and the cost is too much).
Also keep in mind that for many surfers, catching the wave in the latter stages (ie. when it's about to pitch) is half the fun. They call it the drop. If you stand too late, you won't make the drop, and the wave will punish you. If you make the drop, you get an extra rush and the immediate challenge of turning at the bottom, keeping your speed, and then pumping as fast as you can down the line to create the perfect speed.
However, what about the surfer who wants to ride a shorter board, but catch the wave earlier (thus, avoiding some of the risk of a late takeoff)?
My idea: A strong, plastic circular device in the board that a surfer can wind by hand. He then paddles for a wave a little earlier than he normally would, and as he reaches maximum paddling power he punches a button with his toe and the device he wound up (I suppose it could compress air or wind up a spring that pushes some kind of jet) would release a two to three second burst of water (like a jet), doubling the speed the surfer can paddle on his own (thus, giving him the paddling power of a ten-foot board, even though his board might only be six to seven feet long and narrower, thinner, etc.).
I actually don't want to build it, invent it, sell it, etc.
I just want to use it.
John in CR wrote:It's already been done. Google Wavejet.
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