The other day I found myself in the company of a regular girl-next-door, who was anything but a surfer. She had me in stitches about how she had just passed through a carpark full of surfers at the local break, who were yelling some pretty strange language to one another, about their experience in the ocean. But the way she described it, was although they were aliens from another planet. I suppose it’s a little true. After all, we are a pretty unique breed, who definitely have our own lingo. Lingo that can be a little hard to comprehend to an outsider.
I imagine it’s a bit like a husband coming home from an epic surf, and attempting to describe all the technical maneuvers he just mastered to his crochet knitting wife. As if the Mars, Venus thing wasn’t enough, she’s hit with another curve-ball. The same curve-ball she probably throws at her salty husband, when she gloats to him about how she nailed the elusive triple-hooked-twist-knot, at the annual Crochet Championships. No Bueno.
Anyway, if you’re somewhat new to surfing, and are trying a little too hard to fit in, or playfully want to impress your surfing partner, take note of the below surfing terms that may fall on your sun-burnt little ears:
“Oh yeah it’s pretty fun”
A frequently used response to the question of how the surf is, thrown about from surfer to surfer. The same term that my girl-next-door raised an eyebrow at. Her question still lingers in my mind “What the heck did they mean, that the surf’s pretty fun?”
And yes, I already detect your brain ticking over too, “I agree with this girl-next-door, is it fun, like a kid in a candy store kind of fun?” Well, that’s not too far from the truth.
If you could set up an imaginary scale in your mind from 1 to 10, then add a “fun surf” somewhere between an “average surf” and a “great surf”, then you might start to grasp an idea of when to bust this one out.While it sounds like a childish expression, it’s used more often than you might care to know. Even Slater casually dishes it out mid-tour. After all, surfing is all about having fun.
Pretty much when any good surfer hears the words, they know what’s up. An irrespirable urge to prioritize a surf check, suddenly boils within their veins.
‘Fun’ can encompass one or all of the following:
“It’s super clean”
“Clean like a Dettol advertisement?” I hear you ask. Mmm not quite. Listen up. If any one of your surfing idols, or local ripper describes the ocean as being clean, they are referring to the water as being perfectly clean on the surface. This doesn’t mean it’s pumping. Oh no. You can have an entirely clean ocean, but zero swell. Let me help you out:
Clean conditions are:
“It’s heavy man”
Don’t, I repeat don’t start using this term, until you understand it in its full context, otherwise you might just become the butt of all jokes amongst the lineup. Heavy is often reserved for big cyclonic swells, long period groundswells, ridiculously shallow reef breaks or places such as Teahupo’o, where the wave breaks below sea level. To be more descriptive…
You see, as surfers we like to hold onto our own unique descriptive words of the ocean, and our experience in and around it. Now that you know the basics, be sure to use these terms in nothing but the right situation. Don’t worry you’ll learn pretty quickly. Especially if the locals hang you up by your undies, on the nearest clothesline for calling it fun when it was absolute rubbish.
SHANNON DAVIDSON is a passionate surfer from Byron Bay, Australia with an obsession of all things beach life. Inspired by the perfection and mystery contained within the ocean, Shannon loves to share with the world, through her writing, all that she finds along the way. Follow her adventures on surfchickareta.com.