Surfing and Technology

August 6, 2014

Surfing and Technology


I have a love-hate relationship with technology. Actually, like-hate relationship is a better way of putting it...
I'm that guy who gives people dirty looks when they're on their phone in a public place, or appreciates asking strangers for directions instead of using a cell phone. I still buy CD's because I like having a physical backup of music, and I don't own a tablet.
Still, I'm not too proud to admit that technology has its advantages, even applied to something as natural as surfing. So here are some technological advances that, to me, seem to enhance the sport we love.
Surf Report
When I was growing up you would call the Ocean Surf Shop hotline for Folly Beach, SC to hear a recording of how the waves were that morning. It was always busy, so you had to call several times to hear it, and it was only done once or twice a day, so the accuracy was questionable. Now we have Surfline which has live cameras from all over the world, saving surfers countless hours of time and disappointment in avoiding flat days.
Ocean Surf Shop's "Fun Factor" is a staple in Folly.
Artificial Wave
Check out this video and tell me you wouldn't dream of surfing a wave this perfect.

Even those pros look like they were getting tired! Imagine how good you'd be if you had this in your home town! And for all us naturalists out there, something like this would likely clear the lineup at our local breaks, making for less crowded beaches and more fun.
I have to admit that, deep down, I have a little push back against things like this. It just seems a little too perfect. But even if these popped up in every mildly-populated city in the world, surfing at beaches would never go away; just as an abundance of skate parks doesn't seem to deter street skating. There's something about finding your own way on a board that's magical.
Board Innovation
We don't have flying cars yet, but we do have jet-propelled surfboards! The WaveJet is around to help you paddle out three-to-four times faster, as well as catch huge waves without a tow-in. These also come in handy after a long surf session and your body wants to give out, even though the waves continue pumping. But then the challenge becomes how to avoid looking like the laziest surfer around...
A little less high tech are the assortment of advancements in board materials available today. From new types of foam to epoxies, you can now get a lighter, more buoyant board than ever before. These are amazing when you want to shred some weak waves.

Wet Suits and Boardshorts
Imagine being a surfer in the yonder-days, enjoying the beach on a crisp winter afternoon, watching beautiful waves break in front of you. But if you paddled out in that water for more than 20 minutes, you'd have borderline hypothermia. I'm sure it happened -- you can't keep a surfer out of the water.
But thank God neoprene was invented and now we can surf the planet from top to bottom, year round. As innovation progresses I've been hearing about heated wet suits, and even suits that protect you from sharks! I'm on board for that one.
I always thought board shorts were a pretty simple thing, but more and more I'm seeing changes in materials and design so you can get the most out of your surfing. For instance, the Hurley Phantom Fuse 3 has a breathable waistband and material that stretches and moves with you, increasing your maneuverability and performance. So salute your shorts -- they're making a difference.
This blog!
Imagine: what would you be doing right now if it weren't for the internet and its wealth of information about surfing and spirituality? How lost we would be! But thank the Jobs' and Gates' of our time, as the age of information and technology now flourishes in the palm of our hands.
Just don't let it all this tech get in the way of your surfing, lest you will have lost the battle of balance between nature's art and man's ambition. Tread lightly, but don't be afraid to let these new fangled ideas make our old fashioned sport even more fun!
Any new tech you've been impressed with? Do you find it difficult to balance the old with the new?
[Originally published on the StoreYourBoard.com blog]

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