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Have there been any studies on 'surf balls'? (not related to surfing)

Have there been any studies on 'surf balls'? (not related to surfing)



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I know the title sounds like something else, but I'm actually wondering about these things, which are also apparently called 'whale burps':

This one was found on a beach on Lake Michigan.

Does anyone know if any scientific studies have been done on these? If so, can you refer me to them?


These surf or beach balls are made of plant material throughout the structure. They form by wave action along beaches. As the naturalist at Wilderness State Park, the campers and I discovered over 30 of these balls along the beach the summer of 2017. In previous summers we had found 0. Lake Michigan and Lake Huron were at record levels during the summer of 2017, the highest since 1998. This may explain the formation of these grass balls in abundance. We found some of the balls still in the water, in a depression, just offshore. Others were rolling in and out with the waves. Some had been deposited on the shore and were filled with large quantities of sand. I shook out nearly a cup of sand from one ball. I dissected one surf ball and found predominantly roots and grasses. I will continue to investigate the species of plants that form these curious creations and try to discover the secret to their formation


Particles surf their own waves, reveal how microbes and cells move through human body

A ball falling through goopy liquid will generate a wave in a nearby flexible rubber sheet. The ball will 'surf' the wave, moving away from the rubber sheet and picking up speed, new calculations and experiments reveal. Credit: B. Rallaband et al/Nature Physics 2018

Surf's up for microbes swimming beside red blood cells.

New calculations and experiments model for the first time how spherical particles submerged in gooey liquid travel along a flexible rubber sheet comparable conditions are common in the human body, such as blood cells flowing through a capillary or the journeys of self-propelled microbes. (Although blood isn't particularly viscous, at microscopic scales its effective viscosity is high.)

All these particles, it turns out, catch a wave.

In the experiments, liquid flows around a moving particle. That flow, in turn, pushes on the adjacent sheet, deforming the surface into a sinusoidal wave with a depression and a hump. The stream of liquid into the depression and over the hump repels the particle away from the sheet. As the particle continues moving, it 'surfs' the wave and picks up speed, researchers reported online September 16 in Nature Physics.

The finding offers not only new insights into biological processes, but a gentler method for measuring the elasticity of cell membranes and an easy way to sort particles by size. "It's a simple idea with big implications in biology and engineering," says study coauthor Naomi Oppenheimer, a research fellow at the Center for Computational Biology at the Flatiron Institute in New York City.

Going with the flow: A ball falling through viscous silicone oil produces a wave in a nearby rubber sheet, as seen in this video. Fluid flowing along the wave pushes back on the ball, pushing it away from the sheet. The result could help scientists better understand how cells and microbes move through the human body. Credit: B. Rallaband et al/Nature Physics 2018

Calculating the fluid flow of particles and flexible surfaces submerged in the viscous liquids of the body is incredibly complicated. Viscous liquids have strange properties: Their molecular makeup generates a large amount of internal friction and resists turbulent flow. Inertia, usually a factor in objects moving through a liquid, therefore doesn't play much of a role for objects traveling through a viscous fluid. A submarine cruising through seawater will continue moving for a while once its engines shut off, whereas the same sub would come to a near-immediate halt in molasses.

Oppenheimer, Bhargav Rallabandi and Howard Stone of Princeton University, and Matan Yah Ben Zion of New York University sidestepped the problem of directly calculating fluid flow. Instead of trying to perfectly model the complex fluid dynamics, the researchers focused primarily on the forces acting on the particle and the surface. This approach yielded a relatively simple equation incorporating the viscosity of the fluid, the rigidness and tension of the surface, and the size and velocity of the particle.

The researchers tested their formula with a real-world experiment. They dangled a thin rubber sheet in a fish-tank-sized container filled with silicone oil, which is roughly 1,100 times as viscous as water. One by one, they dropped marble-sized balls into the oil near the sheet and tracked the resulting movements as the balls sank. Just as expected, each ball produced a wave on the sheet, which in turn pushed the ball further away. As it moved farther away from the sheet, the ball experienced less friction, speeding up its descent.

"Both Bhargav and I are theoretical scientists, so this was the first time we've done an experiment," Oppenheimer says. "Seeing the calculations we made materializing for the first time during the experiment was an amazing sensation."

Bigger balls traveled farther away from the sheet. Pushing particles along a flexible surface in a viscous fluid could, therefore, be an easy way to sort particles by size, similar to an automatic coin-sorting machine. Similarly, the less rigid the surface, the stronger the repulsive force acting on the balls. This effect could help scientists measure the rigidity of a material such as a cell membrane without using conventional approaches that require potentially damaging poking and prodding or carefully controlled temperatures.

The researchers plan to model more complex scenarios, such as the movements of multiple balls or multiple flexible sheets at the same time.

More information: Bhargav Rallabandi et al, Membrane-induced hydroelastic migration of a particle surfing its own wave, Nature Physics (2018). DOI: 10.1038/s41567-018-0272-z


1. University of California San Diego

Sitting on the cliffs overlooking Black’s Beach, UCSD offers relatively unfettered access to one of Southern California’s crown jewels. Good at nearly any size, Black’s alone would be enough to land USCD on our list of Top 10 Surf Colleges. Throw in its central locality among 70 miles of San Diego coastline, and it’s easy to see why the school put up high numbers for proximity to surf. Don’t want to hassle with the crowds at Black’s? Drive 10 minutes north or south and you’ll find fun numerous reefbreaks and beachbreaks. Read more.

Annual cost: $31,500 in-state / $59,500 out-of-state
Enrolled: 28,100
Average GPA of incoming freshman: 4.0
Male/Female ratio of student body: 48/52


The Revolution Swell is specifically designed for surfers and skateboarders and handcrafted in the US of A. If you can&rsquot get out for a shred, then the Revolution Swell is the ideal indoor replacement. You might not be able to cut back, but you&rsquoll be able to ride the nose, practice equilibrium balance and simulate the sensation of the force of the wave.

The balance and coordination skills learned by using the Revolution Swell transmute into real improvements in the water. The Swell makes for a pretty cool gadget to have around the house when friends come over.

It makes for awesome entertainment. If you&rsquore a surfing or skateboarding novice, fear not, the Swell allows you to start slow and work your way up becoming a balance board aficionado.

The Revolution Swell has both a longer roller and board. Combining these attributes with the Magswitch stop system allows for a variety of both heel-to-toe and side-to-side balance training moves. This also makes the Swell balance board ideal for tricks like cross stepping to the nose and simulating popping up on the board.


Top 10 Surf Colleges in America

High school guidance counselors are great at providing insight for life after the 12th grade. They’re usually well versed on which colleges offer programs aimed towards your ideal career path. Sure, they can rattle off majors, tuitions, GPAs and SAT scores until they’re blue in the face. That’s all well and good for your parents, but chances are your real questions still go unanswered.

“How is the nightlife?” “Is the student body a lively bunch or are they all pocket-protector wearing nerds?” And, most importantly for us surfers, “Is there pumping surf nearby?”

Top 10 lists are a bit passé, but Surfline took the liberty of helping you in your search for higher education (and larger waves) by compiling the 10 best surf schools in America. Read on and make your decision wisely…after all, you only have four years (or more, depending) where you can create your own schedule.

University of California, San Diego

At UCSD, Blacks Beach is your backyard. Photo Jeremiah Klein

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: As long as you can handle a hike and don’t have an incurable pointbreak fetish, you can ditch your car for a bike as long as you live on campus. UCSD is set back a few hundred yards from the cliffs overlooking Blacks Beach, widely regarded as one of the best sand-bottom A-frames in California.

SURF CLASS(ES): For sure. They’re offered through the Rec Department.

SURF TEAM: Oh yeah. The UCSD surf team holds multiple national titles.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Who says surfers are a bunch of dummies? UCSD has enough surfing MENSA candidates to clog up the lineup at Windansea, including: (now retired) Ed Hutchins, Beacons local, Professor of Cognitive Science, MacArthur Fellowship recipient and president of the UCSD Surf Club in 1968 Jim Hollan, Professor of Cognitive Science the late Paul Saltman, former Professor of Biology and college provost David Sandwell, Professor of Geophysics Greg Mitchell, Associate Research Biologist Ralph Keeling, Associate Professor of Geochemistry Sam Iacobellis, Assistant Research Meteorologist.

SURFING ALUMNI: There’s at least one in every yearbook, but here’s a short list: Ricky Grigg, big-wave pioneer and Professor of Oceanography at the University of Hawaii Rusty Preisendorfer, founder of Rusty Surfboards and Clothing Tom O’Keefe, founder of Red X Fin Systems Isabelle Tihanyi, founder of Surf Divas surf school Mark Massara, Sierra Club figurehead Bolton Colburn, current chief curator of the Laguna Art Museum the late Chris Bystrom, surf filmmaker Rob Gilley and John Bilderback, premier surf photographers Benicio Del Toro (OK, he doesn’t surf, but the dude won an Oscar, for Pete’s sake) Geoff Rashe, shaper of M-10 surfboards in Santa Cruz Charles Golden, PhD graduate in Marine Geophysics and current golf club designer at Taylormade/Adidas Scott Bass, online editor at Surfermag.com Allen Johnson Garth Engelhorn Holly Beck (former NSSA national champ) Sean Hayes (Ventura legend and Pipe charger) Jake Wormhoudt (Maverick’s charger) Evan Slater (former editor, Surfing magazine) Lewis Samuels (Surfline’s Power Rankers author) Rex Picket (writer, Sideways) Gerry Kantor (Leucadia Surf School) Loryn Wilson Zach Plopper Edward Graham Tim Lynch.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to a 6-foot triple-up behind the boil at Big Rock: good luck. Average high school GPA: 4.04 – 4.28.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Everything that is right-brained. Biochemistry, Biology, pre-med… if you’re an aspiring numbers person, you’ll fit into the equation.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: Compared to its crazy sister, San Diego State, UCSD is all highwaters, pocket protectors and Coke-bottle glasses.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 53/47

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $14,273/$28,014 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: “It’s kind of weird,” says Allen Johnson, who transferred from Florida Institute of Technology and graduated from UCSD in 1990. “But the fact that Blacks is right there almost improves your work ethic. If you miss a good swell because of your studies, you always know that a good day of surf is right around the corner.”

DEMERITS: Due to the workload, missing that “good day of surf” easily can turn into weeks, months… even semesters. Remember: when in doubt, paddle out. There’s always summer school.

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 9500 Gilman Drive 0021, La Jolla, CA 92093-0021 Phone: 858-534-4831 www.ucsd.edu or e-mail at [email protected]

Other top surfing colleges in the San Diego area include Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego State, Mira Costa College, and Cal State San Marcos.

University of California, Santa Cruz

A short drive from campus, and you’ll find this: Steamer Lane. Photo: Jeremiah Klein

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Five minutes from high-performance hotbed Steamer Lane, 20 minutes from some of best reefbreaks in Central California and, if you’re really into higher learning, an hour’s drive from the coldwater behemoths of Maverick’s. It’s probably the single most diverse surf area in the state.

SURF CLASS(ES): You bet. UC Santa Cruz offers four beginner classes per quarter along with an intermediate class and a special spring break Baja Trip. You’ve got to be on it to register, though. As the Rec Department’s Kathy Ferrero says, “People show up as early as 4 a.m. for open registration — we open at 9 and all the spots are usually gone by 10.” The majority of registrants are women. Cost is $89 for the class, which includes transportation, wetsuit, booties and board.

SURF TEAM: For the last several years, the UCSC surf team has been doing quite well in 2009, member Daniel Shea placed first at NSSA State Championships and the team competed at Nationals.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Joe Collins (Sociology professor and author, presently retired).

SURFING ALUMNI: Dan Duane, author of Caught Inside Scooter Leonard, former editor Surfing Magazine Wingnut, movie star, longboarder David Giddings, former pro surfer Sarah Gerhardt, Maverick’s hellwoman and grad student who got her PhD in physical chemistry Jeremy Sherwin Kim Mayer Kyla Langen Daniel Shea Nate Zoller.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to mid-size Middle Peak at Steamer Lane. Average GPA: 3.5.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: While UCSC’s known primarily for its fairly radical academic stance and liberal arts, surfers should also note it has a fantastic marine biology department, with marine labs along the very alive north Pacific.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: Well, if you like psychedelic spinning through the redwoods on full-moon nights, then UCSC’s for you. You won’t find much of the Budweiser/Marlboro crowd, though — you need to go to the Lane for that.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 47/53

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $11,220/$37,902

EXTRA CREDIT: Apart from being right next to some of the best surf in the freaking world, let alone California, you get a progressive, democratic, self-directed education. As Scooter Leonard says, “You actually shop for classes — the first day, you can go around and check out 25 classes and then decide what you want.”

DEMERITS: Get used to hearing, “Go home, Slug!” — especially when all the Vermin are out at the Lane. And if you’re not a self-motivator, you may fall behind.

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 1156 High Street Santa Cruz, CA 95064 Phone: 831-459-0111 www.ucsc.edu

California Polytechnic State University

Offshore winds at Morro Bay. Photo: Shutterstock

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Head south fifteen minutes and Pismo Beach welcomes you with open arms. Head north fifteen minutes and the locals of Morro Bay might not be so inviting.

SURF CLASS(ES): Yep, learn to plow your own log in their shaping class. And if that’s not enough, some of the Central Coast’s heavier breaks will surely teach you a lesson.

SURF TEAM: Yep. Although not as competitive savvy as the UCSB or UCSD squads, Cal Poly’s teams compete in the NSSA Interscholastic divisions.

SURFING ALUMNI: Cayucos charger Chad Jackson pro surfer/shaper/musician Shane Stoneman Florida transplant Chris Baiata Nick Cooper teaches the shaping classes.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Not as easy as the gentle Pismo rollers. But like a Central Coast slab, it’s well worth the effort. Average high school GPA: 4.04.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Just like the surrounding areas, Cal Poly is most known for their agriculture. But the business, engineering, science and liberal arts programs are gaining equal ground on the tree-huggers.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: Downtown SLO has plenty of bars and a great local music scene. Stroll down Higuera Street on a sunny spring afternoon and there will be plenty of lovely co-eds shopping for their weekend attire.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 53/47

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $9,432/$21,312

EXTRA CREDIT: If you have the time and the gas money, Central California has plenty of rideable waves to be found. And if the surf is flat, there are countless outdoor activities to keep you occupied.

DEMERITS: Springtime is windy and freezing and the summers aren’t anything to hang around for. If pick-up truck driving farmers give you the creeps and wide-open farmland isn’t appealing, head to a more urban school.

ADDRESS/CONTACT: California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, (805) 756-1111

University of California, Santa Barbara

The queen of the coast, Rincon (among other right-hand pointbreaks), is home base for UCSB students. Photo: Jeremiah Klein

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Well, there’s Campus Point right fricken there, Rincon 30 minutes away and Central Coast beachbreaks in 60 minutes or less.

SURF CLASS(ES): You bet. UCSB offers History of Surfing, Geography of Surfing, and (get this) Field Study in Surfing. These classes fill up very rapidly.

SURF TEAM: Heck yes. Learn more here.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Kip Fulbeck, Asian-American studies/Art Michael Arntz, Art Mike McGinnis, Coastal Management Nancy Clayton, Rec Department Horia Metiu, Chemistry Patrick Johnson, Biology.

SURFING ALUMNI: Steve Hawk, former Editor of Surfer Magazine Jon Roseman, Tavarua Resort owner Lance Harriman, Maverick’s hellperson Jack Johnson, Backdoor charger, talented musician, surf media darling Ron Triplett, Monterey Bay local, marriage and family therapist J.J. Rhodes, stylish vegan goofyfoot Josh Pomer, Videographer, Shawn Kelly, Oxnard-based grad student, former semi-pro Sean O’Toole Rory Rever Bart Templeman Liz Clarke Sean Walker Todd Walsh, inventor of Surf Stronger.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to 6-foot, low-tide Rivermouth at Rincon — if you persevere, you’ll usually score. Average GPA: 3.96.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Marine Biology program it’s also known for Business Economics.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: “Everyone rides bikes around and surfs…it’s a really kick-back place,” says Sean O’Toole. Plus, Isla Vista’s been known to host the occasional keg party.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 47/53

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $14,409/$42,423 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: Alexis Copeland, UCSB alumni who’s now working at Monterey Peninsula College says, “Well, apart from being able to live within view of Campus Point, it’s great ’cause Isla Vista’s actually a college town you don’t really get that on the West Coast.”

DEMERITS: “It’s flat a lot,” Ron Triplett says. “You’ve gotta be prepared to do some driving if you want to surf all the time.” Rory Rever adds, “Surfing on campus can be… troublesome, with all the folks just learning to surf and stuff.”

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 1210 Cheadle Hall, Santa Barbara, CA 93106 Phone: 805-893-2881 www.ucsb.edu

University of Hawaii

An hour drive from campus at U of H, there’s a little wave called Pipeline — you may have heard of it. Photo: Jeremiah Klein

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Biking distance to the lefts at Publics an hour car ride to the waves of your life on the North Shore.

SURF CLASS(ES): There are learn-to-surf classes, Ben Finney covers Polynesian and surfing history in one of his Anthropology classes and Ricky Grigg covers surf forecasting in an Oceanography class. Dr. Steven Businger has been known to teach surf forecasting labs from time to time as well.

SURF TEAM: No official surf team, but as former student Casey Morris points out, “There’s the Hui — thank you for sharing your Island and your waves.”

SURFING PROFESSORS: Ricky Grigg (Oceanography) Roger Lucas (Oceanography) Eric Firing (Oceanography) Ben Finney (Anthropology), Dr. Steven Businger (Meteorology).

SURFING ALUMNI: Fred Hemmings, State Senator Paul Strauch, ’60s stylist Peter Cole, North Shore legend Nainoa Thompson, Regent and Polynesian Navigation expert, Sean Lopez (Gerry’s nephew) Sue Brown the Kanialii family Leilani Patacchia (Fred’s sister) Mike and Peter Miller.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to 6-foot, West Peak Sunset Beach: it takes commitment but it’s manageable. Average high school GPA: 3.5.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: International Business classes are superior, so is their Meteorology department they also have a solid law school program, a great art program.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: Did someone say, “luau?” They sell beer on campus and you can even use your meal card for it.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 46/54

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $11,732/$33,764 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: You’re right in the cradle of surfing civilization and an hour from the North Shore. Be sure to take a field trip to the Bishop Museum. Oh, and the food’s good, too. As Casey Morris says, “the L&L Chicken Katsu plate lunch is all you need.”

DEMERITS: Those post-exam trips to Femme Nu have a tendency to burn up the limited finances faster than a struggling dot-com. Plus, you’re still trying to shatter stereotypes — even in Hawaii. “There’s an elitism in academia that’s unfortunate,” says Ricky Grigg. “If you’re a surfer, you almost have to work harder to prove yourself.”

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 2600 Campus Road, SSC Room 001 Honolulu, HI 96822 Phone: 808-956-8975 www.uhm.hawaii.edu

University of North Carolina, Wilmington

Masonboro Island off Wrightsville Beach. Photo: Chandler Hatch

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Welcome to Mid-Atlantic surfing’s most-happening epicenter. Although Ben Bourgeois was never a student, the former WCT pro raised the bar for all the surf-hungry students who flock to UNCW, turning the area’s warm, inconsistent and crowded coastline into a serious talent pool just 10 minutes from campus a soul-filled weekend of Hatteras barrels waits four hours away.

SURF CLASS(ES): Not unless you’re skipping.

SURF TEAM: Yep, and a club for those non-competitive types.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Dr. John Bennett, Physical Education Bill Atwell, English professor Wade Watanabe, Marine Aquaculture research professor.

SURFING ALUMNI: Matt Beacham, Outer Banks charger and photo pro Johnny McDanel, uses his MBA as a Mid-Atlantic surf rep Surfrider Foundation’s National Environmental Programs Manager Mark Rauscher Research Associate and diver for Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology Katie Lang Marine Geologist Chris Freeman East Coast surf journos Matt Pruett (Surfline) and Anne Beasley-Weber plus a slew of renowned NC rippers like Dean and Pat McManus, Ben Szafron, Tony Butler and Cameron Pearson, Mitch Baker John Dodson Pete Viele Trent Barkley Jed Galloway Justin Brown Brian Braithwaite plus surf photog D.J. Struntz was there to record all the action.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Just like Wrightsville Beach: lots of people fighting for space, but if you got the goods, you’ll make the cut. Average GPA: 3.80-4.43.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Marine Biology department is world-renowned Environmental Science and Recreation are popular with surfers Cameron School of Business is noteworthy. “We [Surfers] all start as Marine Biology majors and then after a week we realize how smart you have to be and how long you have to go to school and then we switch to PE or something really weak like English or Journalism.” — Matt Pruett, Surfline

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: Although UNCW has outgrown its party reputation in many cases, there’s still plenty of bar-brewed debauchery, mostly polarized between downtown Wilmington — which provides celebrity sightings courtesy of the local movie studio — and the beach strip’s separate block of favorites for the surfing populace.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 38/62 (“The most beautiful girls in the world live in Wilmington.” — Matt Pruett)

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $7,048/$21,064 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: “UNCW has everything — a beach, a killer downtown, an artsy side and dance clubs, and a large group of young people. Plus, there’s all kinds of girls surfing there.” — Anne Beasley-Weber.

DEMERITS: “Crowds are a problem in the warmer months, and it’s expensive to live right on the beach.” — Jason Carlisi

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 601 South College Rd., Wilmington, NC 28403 Phone: 910 962-3000 www.uncwil.edu

University of Rhode Island

One of New England’s most famed and elusive waves: Ruggles, Rhode Island. Photo: Paul Girello

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: When there’s swell, you’re looking at a 25-minute drive to Ruggles, one of the best righthand points on the East Coast.

SURF CLASS(ES): Sorry, you’re on your own.

SURF TEAM: There’s a surf club consisting of 30 surfers who meet, watch videos when it’s flat and take a spring break trip to Hatteras.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Gerry Krause, Marine Affairs.

SURFING ALUMNI: Mark Sackett, San Diego KUSI news camera guy Tim Swart, Marketing Director, Zoo York Charlie Donadio, founder of URI surf club and owner of the Block Island High Speed Ferry John Capobianco, Manhattan real-estate agent Henry Payne Jay Brown Nick Papa.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to a head-high day at Point Judith: not free, but easy. Average high school GPA: 3.45.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Excellent pre-professional programs. Psychology, Pharmacology, and Human Development/Family Studies are most common.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: In the early ’90’s, URI was ranked by Playboy as the second best party school in the States, but now it’s a dry campus. But when asked, an anonymous sophomore deadpans: “Yeah, we party here.”

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 46/54

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $13,792/$30,042 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: The East Coast’s best pointbreaks are within easy striking distance, and it’s not bogged down in academia. “If you’re an average student who wants to live and surf on the East Coast, URI’s not a bad choice,” says Tim Swart.

DEMERITS: “Some of the older Narragansett locals don’t like college blow-ins so much,” says Warm Winds surf shop’s Brian Kelley. And if the locals aren’t icy enough, the mid-winter water temps will certainly do the trick. Can you say, “brain freeze?”

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 8 Ranger Road, Suite 1 Kingston, RI 02881-2020 Phone: 401-874-1000 www.uri.edu

Pepperdine University

Removed from the hubbub of LA, Pepperdine lies on a hill overlooking Malibu. Photo: Dylan Decker

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: Perched on the hill between Malibu and Zuma, Pepperdine is a private “Christian institution” and central headquarters for Los Angeles’ good side. You’re a five-minute drive from Third Point, a five-minute run up the PCH from the bonecrunchers at Westward and Zuma and — since many northwest swells ignore the immediate area — you’re only 30 minutes from Ventura County beachbreaks and 40 minutes away from Rincon.

SURF CLASS(ES): Surfing classes offered as physical education.

SURF TEAM: Like most things in LA, the team has seen its ups and downs it was up in the ’90, down towards the early 2000s, and brought back to life by Jacob Boone and Brian Dapelo in 2003.

SURFING PROFESSORS: The soccer coach, Tim Ward, is a surfer.

SURFING ALUMNI: Richard Woolcott, founder and CEO of Volcom clothing Paul White, former International Sales Manager for Volcom clothing Allen Sarlo, Real Estate agent (Sarlo transferred after two years) John LaLane, pool cleaner Takuji Masuda, Japanese artist/longboarder/surf magazine publisher Mika Rutiz Graham Monroe Zack Nielsen Austin Trujillo Matt Ryan Larry Birnbaum Jeremy Black.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to an Oxnard beachbreak on a strong Santa Ana day. Average high school GPA: 3.59-4.0.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: They get down to business at Pepperdine. With its reputable law school, Pepperdine also is famous for churning out a lot of lawyers.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: “Compared to UCLA or USC, we’re pretty quiet,” says Pepperdine alum/surfer Mika Rutiz. “But we had our parties. The girls get sick of all the frat guys and came to us.”

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 41/59

COST: $49,770 (Gulp).

EXTRA CREDIT: If you have an affinity for the birthplace of California high-performance surfing, there isn’t a better school. Plus, with few breaks during the academic year, your summer vacation starts on April 25.

DEMERITS: A frequently polluted Santa Monica Bay and three required religion courses are definite buzz kills, but the price tag tends to be the biggest downer. “A lot of kids will contact me, asking about the school and its surf team,” says Hahn. “But as soon as I tell them about the tuition, they’re, like, ‘Uhhh, never mind.'”

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 24255 PCH, Malibu, CA 90263-4392 Phone: 310.506.4000 www.pepperdine.edu or e-mail at [email protected]

Humboldt State University

Humboldt Bay, early morning, only a couple guys out…and a couple sharks (probably). Photo: Jack Hopkins

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: You can see the ocean from campus, but you have to drive a half-hour either north or south to score coldwater pits.

SURF CLASS(ES): Yep. The new surfing class has become the Center Activities’ most popular time slot.

SURF TEAM: Nope. “If you want to wear a jersey and hang out on the cliff with all your bros, you might as well stay in Santa Cruz,” remarks one anonymous source. “It’s the NorCal code of silence.”

SURFING PROFESSORS: Richard Langford, Psychology.

SURFING ALUMNI: Marcos Cortez, teacher, SF Bay Area Anders Olson, UC Santa Cruz employee Mike Kew, freelance surf journalist James Harkins.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Comparable to a sunny, shoulder-high, offshore Fall day at an unnamed NorCal beachbreak. Average high school GPA: 3.22.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Known primarily for Natural Resources, Forestries and Fisheries.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: “Hello,” laughs alumnus Vibeke Seymour. “I mean, HIGH…” One local who wishes to remain anonymous adds, “Everybody’s pretty low key up here, because everybody grows dope. Really good dope.”

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 44/56

COST (in-state/out-of-state): $7,494/$19,374 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: “When there’s no swell or it’s too big, you can just go for a walk through one of the redwood forests — they’re amazing,” says Seymour.

DEMERITS: “When I was there, I heard about people getting chased out of the water by white sharks — WEEKLY,” says Cortez.

ADDRESS/CONTACT: 1 Harpst Street, Arcata CA, 95521-8299 Phone: (707) 826-3011 www.humboldt.edu

Florida Institute of Technology

The famed First Peak at Sebastian Inlet. Photo: Jimmy Wilson

PROXIMITY AND ACCESS TO SURF: You’re only 35-40 minutes away from the most recognized break in East Coast surfing, Sebastian Inlet. (Actually, catching a wave at First Peak may take significantly longer.)

SURF CLASS(ES): There’s a Surf Engineering Analysis course, Meteorology and Oceanography programs but there are also plenty of informal lessons going down at Sebastian.

SURF TEAM: FIT’s surf team competes in the NSSA South/NE conference, and typically makes it all the way to Nationals.

SURFING PROFESSORS: Most of the Ocean Engineering faculty including Drs. Geoff Swain, Eric Thosteson (adjunct since 2007) and Dr. Rob van Woesik in Biological Sciences (Marine Bio) plus Dr. David Hott, PhD (Business).

SURFING ALUMNI: Three-time US National Team Member Albert Munoz, Chris Harmon, Matt Vecere, Jesse Spooner, Pat Rafter, Sander Banta, former East Coast Champion Barry Pasonski surf photographer Donald Cresitello Surfline forecasters Charlie Hutcherson, Katie Spagnolo, and Surfline Science Manager Sam Wilson.

HOW HARD TO GET IN: Not quite a First Peak bomb, but you’ll still have to show some skills — and some dough. Average GPA: 3.63.

KNOWN CURRICULUM: Meteorology aviation management electrical engineering and computer engineering are most popular. Ocean Engineering is a favorite among surfers with lots of classes in waves and wave theory.

ANIMAL HOUSE/PARTY FACTOR: “There’s a huge international community, so there’s a lot of small French and Spanish parties, a few off-campus bar scenes. You basically end up meeting a close group of friends and hanging with them for a long time.” — Donald Cresitello. There’s also nearby downtown Melbourne, if you’re looking for night out on the town.

MALE/FEMALE RATIO: 70/30 (“Freshman year, you still think you have a chance with the girls, but you wake up pretty quick.” — Albert Munoz.)

COST: $36,696 (not including room and board).

EXTRA CREDIT: If you’re still determined on scoring a surfing career past the age of 18, Sebastian’s the best spot on the East Coast to make a name for yourself. And if that fails, you can always — eeek! — fall back on your education since most of FIT’s students find quality jobs, especially in the coastal engineering and oceanography departments.

DEMERITS:“There’s a lot to go in the anti column: the amount of time you spend looking at a book is one, but it’s mostly the party scene. There’s only 3000 people here, so we’ve narrowed it down to getting all the kids into a single room so they can have fun.” — Albert Munoz.

ADDRESS /CONTACT: 150 West University Boulevard, Melbourne, FL 32901-6975 Phone: 321-674-8000 www.fit.edu

Know a college worthy of making this list? Drop it in the comments below.


Your Web surfing history is accessible (without your permission) via JavaScript

The Web surfing history saved in your Web browser can be accessed without your permission. JavaScript code deployed by real websites and online advertising providers use browser vulnerabilities to determine which sites you have and have not visited, according to new research from computer scientists at the University of California, San Diego.

"JavaScript is a great thing, it allows things like Gmail and Google Maps and a whole bunch of Web 2.0 applications but it also opens up a lot of security vulnerabilities. We want to let the broad public know that history sniffing is possible, it actually happens out there, and that there are a lot of people vulnerable to this attack," said UC San Diego computer science professor Sorin Lerner.

The researchers documented JavaScript code secretly collecting browsing histories of Web users through "history sniffing" and sending that information across the network. While history sniffing and its potential implications for privacy violation have been discussed and demonstrated, the new work provides the first empirical analysis of history sniffing on the real Web.

"Nobody knew if anyone on the Internet was using history sniffing to get at users' private browsing history. What we were able to show is that the answer is yes," said UC San Diego computer science professor Hovav Shacham.

The computer scientists from the UC San Diego Jacobs School of Engineering presented this work in October at the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer and Communications Security (CCS 2010) in a paper entitled, "An Empirical Study of Privacy-Violating Information Flows in JavaScript Web Applications."

History Sniffing

History sniffing takes place without your knowledge or permission and relies on the fact that browsers display links to sites you've visited differently than ones you haven't: by default, visited links are purple, unvisited links blue. History sniffing JavaScript code running on a Web page checks to see if your browser displays links to specific URLs as blue or purple.

History sniffing can be used by website owners to learn which competitor sites visitors have or have not been to. History sniffing can also be deployed by advertising companies looking to build user profiles, or by online criminals collecting information for future phishing attacks. Learning what banking site you visit, for example, suggests which fake banking page to serve up during a phishing attack aimed at collecting your bank account login information.

"JavaScript is a great thing, it allows things like Gmail and Google Maps and a whole bunch of Web 2.0 applications but it also opens up a lot of security vulnerabilities. We want to let the broad public know that history sniffing is possible, it actually happens out there, and that there are a lot of people vulnerable to this attack," said UC San Diego computer science professor Sorin Lerner.

The latest versions of Firefox, Chrome, and Safari now block the history sniffing attacks the computer scientists monitored. Internet Explorer, however, does not currently defend against history sniffing. In addition, anyone using anything but the latest versions of the patched browsers is also vulnerable.

Sniffing out History Sniffing

"We built a dynamic data flow engine for JavaScript to track history sniffing in the wild. I don't know of any other practical tool that can be used to do this kind of extensive study," said Dongseok Jang, the UC San Diego computer science Ph.D. student who developed the JavaScript monitoring technology. The researchers plan to broaden their work and study what information is being leaked by applications on social media and other Web 2.0 sites.

The computer scientists looked for history sniffing on the front pages of the top 50,000 websites, according to Alexa global website rankings. They found that 485 of the top 50,000 sites inspect style properties that can be used to infer the browser's history. Out of 485 sites, 63 transferred the browser's history to the network. "We confirmed that 46 of them are actually doing history sniffing, one of these sites being in the Alexa global top 100," the UC San Diego computer scientists write in the CCS 2010 paper.

Table 1 in the paper outlines the websites the computer scientists found that performed history sniffing during the data collection period. In some cases, the websites created their own history sniffing systems. In other cases, advertisements served by outside companies contained JavaScript code performing the history sniffing.

History Sniffing in Perspective

The computer scientists say that history sniffing does not pose as great a risk to your privacy or identity as malicious software programs (malware) that can steal your banking information or your entire Facebook profile. But, according to Shacham, "history sniffing is unusual in effectively allowing any site you visit to learn about your browsing habits on any other site, regardless if the two sites have any business relationship."

To see history sniffing in action, visit: www.whattheinternetknowsaboutyou.com

"I think people who have updated or switched browsers should now worry about things other than history sniffing, like keeping their Flash plug-in up to date so they don't get exploited. But that doesn't mean that the companies that have engaged in history sniffing for the currently 60 percent of the user population that is vulnerable to it should get a free pass," said Shacham.

Tracking History Sniffing

The UC San Diego history-sniffing detection tool analyzes the JavaScript running on the page to identify and tag all instances where the browser history is being checked. The way the system tags each of these potential history tracking events can be compared to the ink or paint packets that banks add to bags of money being stolen.

"As soon as a JavaScript tries to look at the color of a link, we immediately put 'paint' on that. Some sites collected that information but never sent it over the network, so there was all this 'paint' inside the browser. But in other cases, we observed 'paint' being sent over the network, indicating that history sniffing is going on," explained Lerner. The computer scientists only considered it history sniffing when the browser history information was sent over the network to a server.

"We detected when browser history is looked at, collected on the browser and sent on the network from the browser to their servers. What servers then do with that information is speculation," said Lerner.

The "paint" tracking approach to monitoring JavaScript could be useful for more than just history sniffing, Lerner explained. "It could be useful for understanding what information is being leaked by applications on Web 2.0 sites. Many of these apps use a lot of JavaScript."


The greatest surfer of all time is known for his mind games. Slater is a man of deep thoughts, creative ideas, and unusual sayings.

When Kelly Slater speaks, there's always something hidden, waiting to be unveiled beyond the words.

Quotes by Kelly Slater - have you ever spent a few minutes reading his early thoughts? There are incredible gems locked in the archives of time.

SurferToday collected the best quotes by Kelly Slater since he was born in Cocoa Beach, Florida, on February 11, 1972.

Take a look at what the world's most successful competitive surfer said throughout his three-decade career:

My schedule changes every morning based on the surf.

Big waves are a whole different ball game. You're riding a wave with an immense amount of speed and power, generally over 10 meters. On the face of the wave, obviously, life and death thoughts start to happen.

If your mind is not switched on and excited about things, you grow old really fast. I think that's when you age and your body starts to go. I think life's over at that point.

Everyone is so focused on double digits: "are we gonna see double digits? Are we gonna get to number ten? It's the perfect number." You know, it's all semantics at that point.

For a surfer, it's never-ending. There's always some wave you want to surf.

For me, it's sort of like time slows down. You become hyper-aware of a lot of different things - the way the wave is breaking, timing, putting yourself in the right part of the barrel. It takes all of your mental capacity to do it just right.

Friends that were on tour with me 20 years ago, ten years ago, are now family guys married with kids. They say, "I can't believe you're still doing it, that you're looking for waves every day."

How do I carry on? With a cane.

Surf's unpredictable, and my life is based around what the waves are doing. That sounds like some burnout thing from the 1970s, but it's really true. I basically get up and live my life according to what the surf's doing.

I don't ever want to get to the end and say I could've done this or that for someone. I think there are a lot of things right in front of us we either don't know or are afraid to know the answers to. I think that's why people seem more conservative as they get older.

I don't know if fame has changed me.

I don't want to change from who I am, but I've always wanted to become more aware of what life is all about.

I generally start my day off with hot water and lemon - to cleanse the body out after sleeping. I read about it, and it seemed like a good idea. I drink a lot of coconut water, too. I generally stick with fruit in the morning. I make a lot of smoothies.

I have felt married to surfing and all it offers at times.

My mom always talks about that I used to sit on the beach and watch the waves. [I was trying to figure out] how to utilize the energy in the wave or match that energy.

I just don't think there's much that's admirable in doing publicity to try to sell something. I know you have to - but it's a catch-22.

I kept a log of every heat I lost, and I would write at the bottom what I did wrong - "impatience" or "catching too many waves." I would get mad at myself for missing a turn, and I'd bang my head and fists against the board, head-butt it, cursing, "You stupid f--k!" Only no one saw that because I was out on the water.

Even a tiny little wave it's usually traveled from maybe hundreds or thousands of miles away, so it has a lot of energy. You just have to figure out how to use that energy.

I liked growing up in a small town, but I also wanted to travel the world and see everywhere and meet people.

I look at it now, and my surfing that won my first title would probably only be good enough to get me 30th place in today's competition. It's not even comparable.

I love waking up in the morning in Hawaii.

I think any kind of smoking is a really odd way to spend any time or money.

I think I was gifted with understanding the ocean, and it comes naturally to me.

I think when a surfer becomes a surfer, it's almost like an obligation to be an environmentalist at the same time.

I try my best to feed off of positive humans and learn from the interactions that I have with absolutely everyone.

I want to surf better tomorrow. I want to surf better in 10 years. When I'm 50, I want to be a better surfer than I am now - for me, it's a lifelong journey.

I wanted to be Steve Martin when I was a kid. I wanted to be a comedian.

I was lucky - a lot of people get addicted to pills, but I got addicted to surfing. Both are escapes. And now I equate my feelings about surfing with a certain kind of relationship, one where you've been abused, and a girl comes along and heals the scars and puts you back on your feet. And suddenly you wake up and think, 'do I really love this person who healed me? Why am I even with her?' Surfing is like that girl, and now I want to see if I even like her.

I'd love to live to 120 years old and be really healthy.

I'll tell you. Golf is the greatest game in the world.

Watching guys surf all that kind of stuff became a real natural to me to understand how to maneuver on a wave and fit myself into that as if I was a natural part of that energy - a natural part of the motions happening.

I'm basically never in one place for more than one month. At the most.

I'm getting pretty good at getting away from signings.

I've always wanted a little lower center of gravity and a stronger lower body.

It's all about where your mind's at.

I think sometimes you need to kind of clarify and define something to state your intentions. I want to win a world title this year. I'm going to give it everything I got.

It's funny because depending on the day or where we are, my favorite surfer is either Andy or Bruce.

It's like the mafia. Once you're in - you're in. There's no getting out.

Matt Kechele was a huge influence, but when I was about eight years old, I started really looking up to Buttons. Tom Curren, too, once I grew even older. Buttons was my guy, though. I thought he could go upside down under the lip and stay on his board. That was the future for me.

Most people who surf don't compete, but most people don't compete in football, but they still love it.

People look at the ocean that don't know anything about it like that's crazy-looking, but once you put yourself in this situation, you realize there's a flow to everything.

My parents, brothers, and friends were all really important. Then my heroes, too - the guys I looked up to. Parents start it all for you, though.

Now it seems that every famous girl I know, I'm supposed to be sleeping with. Pretty lame.

People should focus more on basic form, the shoulder line, and balance, which no one talks about, and study board shaping and wave and wind patterns.

Shane Dorian is probably the biggest push for me. We've always psyched each other up for all sorts of waves, from tiny to huge, and we just pushed each other mentally.

Some days I wake up and feel it's the greatest thing on Earth, and other mornings I wake up and think it's the worst thing on Earth, and I want to get away from it.

Sometimes if you have second priority, you can kind of be in control because you're forcing the guy to make a decision to catch a wave or not instead of waiting for him too.

Surfing is my religion - if I have one.

Surfing is the best way to wake up.

Surfing was good to me for a long time. It took me away from my parents constantly fighting and getting divorced when I was 11. And from my anger at my dad. He drank a lot - I've seen him almost kill me in a car. I was always scared, when I was younger, to talk to him about the… drinking.

The barrel is really the ultimate ride for any surfer. It's the eye of the storm. Some guys say it's like being in the womb.

The fun and the challenge of it never really go away. There's always something there to put you back in your place.

The joy of surfing is so many things combined, from the physical exertion of it to the challenge of it, to the mental side of the sport.

There's a ton of places I want to surf still.

We sold at least four copies, but I haven't really checked. I love to play music.

What's life for? I don't think it's for smoking pot, but I do think it's for sitting around on the beach all day.

What's life worth? Life's worth experiences, and it's worth the people in your life too. I'm sure it's different once you have a partner in your life or kids - maybe that one wave's not that important anymore.

When I was eight or ten years old, I didn't know that I could have a career from surfing. There were pro surfers who were my heroes, but those guys weren't rich.

They were just surfing and traveling, and that's really been the goal of my whole life.

That's just the sense that you've got to grow up and you got to learn things, and you're sort of forced. There's no direction to go except to kind of answer things for yourself in some way.

Yes, it was special - they all are - but ten is just a number. It wouldn't exist without all the others.

You have to walk before you can run, and surfing small waves is surfing's equivalent of walking and crawling.

I also have to be able to think ahead of the curve a little bit. You have to see where things are going and be able to kind of predict that, or at least go in that direction.

You know, I won the world title when I was 20 and when I was 25, and nobody ever asked me whether I was going to quit. It's not like my surfing has declined. If anything, it's got better. It's strictly an age thing.

Your surfing can get better on every turn, on every wave you catch. Learn to read the ocean better. A big part of my success has been wave knowledge.

There's been a lot of talk about me retiring. I don't have to give an answer to that.


Have there been any studies on 'surf balls'? (not related to surfing) - Biology

Balance: The Most Important Aspect of Surfing

Written by SurfScience.com Guest Writer: Scott Coleman (Sports Physio, Biomechanist)

Problem - How can we improve our balance for surfing?

The first thing we need to do is look at the cause of the problem – What makes balance such a challenge whilst surfing?

Once we’ve worked out the cause we can try to find a solution – How and what can be changed? Which variables can we manipulate?

What is balance?

Balance basically involves two main variables – the centre of mass and the base of support. The centre of mass is the term given for the middle point or centre of a body. Eg. The centre of the cube in figure 1 (red dot). This is the point at which forces (such as gravity) act on the body (blue line). The base of support is the area of contact underneath an object. Eg. The base of the cube (yellow area). If the centre of mass is over the base of support, then the object is stable or balanced. If the centre of mass is not over the base of support, and the line of force acting on the centre of mass (gravity in figures 1and 2) is landing outside the base of support, then the object will fall over. Think about when you’re standing still and you slowly lean forward. The point at which you lose balance and have to step forward is the point at which your centre of mass is no longer over your base of support (the area between your feet). The bigger the base of support, the easier it is to balance (eg standing on one leg or two legs) The closer the centre of mass is to the base of support, the easier it is to balance. (eg laying down on the board compared to standing).

That’s pretty simple for a stationary object, but what about when we’re moving? This is where the forces acting on the centre of mass start to change a bit. As you’re traveling in a straight line, like taking off down the face, the above rules still apply. That is, the centre of mass must be over the base of support. If the centre of mass is not directly over the base of support, the surfer eats it! (figure 3).

Let’s have a look at one of MR’s awesome single fin bottom turns in figure 4. There’s no way the gravity line of force from his centre of mass (red line) is over his base of support (yellow circle). The difference between figures 3 and 4 is that MR is turning. This changes the angle of the force acting on the center of mass. As soon as you start turning the board in an arc, you create something called centripetal force.

Centripetal Force

Back to high school science - picture a ball attached to a piece of string (figure 5). As it’s hanging without moving (on the right), the line of force is heading straight down (red line - gravity). If you start swinging it around in a circle (on the left), centripetal force starts to push the ball outwards (orange line). Gravity is still pulling the ball downwards, so the result is a force that is pushing the ball at an angle (the green line). The angle of the force is same angle that the string makes. Back to figure 4, as MR is leaning into his bottom turn and the board starts turning in an arc, the new line of force (the combination of gravity and centripetal force) is in the direction of the imaginary black string attached to his center of mass, which is landing over his base of support, and therefore he doesn’t eat it. The smaller the bit of string attached to the ball, the smaller the circle the ball spins in. The smaller the circle, the faster the ball spins around and the higher the centripetal force. The higher the centripetal force, the harder it is to balance. That’s why turning in a short narrow arc is always harder than wide arcs.

The next thing we need to think about is another force, called inertia. Basically, an object that’s moving in a straight line wants to continue moving in a straight line, and will do so unless another force is acting upon it. The other force when it comes to surfing is the force of the water pushing against the bottom of the board as you turn. So, after taking off down the face of the wave, your centre of mass wants to continue to move straight ahead, but you want to do a bottom turn. The first thing you do is lean in towards the wave, digging in the rail and angling the deck of the board so that it is still flat under your feet. The force of the water under the board and against the fins is then used to counteract the force of inertia, and stops you flying over the board as it heads along the wave. See Occy’s bottom turn in figure 6.

It’s time to start looking at the base of support. Generally, the bigger and more stable the base of support, the easier it is to balance. That’s why bigger boards are easier to balance. You also want a pretty hard or stiff base of support (have you ever tried standing up on an inflatable mattress in the water!). Finally, you need the surface of the base of support to be as close as possible to perpendicular to the line of force from your centre of mass. That’s why walking down-hill is harder to keep your balance compared to walking on the flat.

To summarize, the main areas that influence balance are: Gravity on the centre of mass (always) Centripetal force on the centre of mass (when turning) Inertia on the centre of mass (when turning) Characteristics of the base of support (board size and shape).
Now the forces that make it hard to balance have been explained, and it’s all as clear as mud, we can work on ways to improve it! How can we improve our balance? The best coaches and athletes around the world will tell you, the best way to improve performance is to train movements, not muscles! The best way to train for improvements in balance is to train the body to respond to the forces that influence balance.

1. Gravity Pretty much all of the balance work you can think of is working against gravity. Anything and everything helps in this area, be creative! The most basic exercise is simply standing on one leg, the most difficult tend to be standing on a fit ball. The “Indo Board” is also very good at training against gravity. Performing the exercises with the eyes closed will always make it harder as we all use the visual feedback to help detect movements as we are balancing. If you take away the visual feedback, you rely more on “feel” or proprioception – the feedback from sensory nerves in and around our joints.

One interesting study published this year by Dale Chapman and Kale Needham in Perth had a look at the difference between the ability to balance between elite and intermediate surfers. Dale discovered that when the surfers had to concentrate on a mental task (such as looking at a picture of a surfer and quickly stating whether they are goofy or natural) whilst balancing, the elite surfers were able to maintain their balance much better than the intermediate surfer. We can assume this occurs because the elite surfer is able to maintain their balance whilst concentrating on the wave and their next turn/manoeuvre, whereas the intermediate surfer still has to concentrate somewhat on their balance. The implication of this study basically suggests that if you can balance well whilst concentrating on something else (other than balancing), then you’ll be a better surfer! Therefore, you should concentrate on something other than balancing, such as watching a surfing vid or reading a mag, whilst training your balance. Other exercises Dale and Kane suggest include single leg stance on an unstable surface (eg. pillow or soft sand) with an out stretched arm to the side or in front bounce a ping-pong ball on a bat. Another is to stand single legged on a mini tramp and bounce a ball of the wall in front and to the side, starting with a large ball progressing down in ball size.

2. Centripetal Force This involves training the body to respond and adjust to circular movements. The best way to train in this area is through the use of a harness that’s positioned close to your centre of mass.
In figure 7, gravity is pulling the centre of mass towards the ground, making it hard to hold the horizontal position (a good ab workout). By performing squats on the wall, you introduce centripetal force but also move the base of support from the ground to the wall, both of which challenge your balance. By introducing the ball in figure 8, you destabilize the base of support (which is discussed later in point 4), making the balance even more challenging. Another way to train against centripetal force is to use a slippery surface (tiles or polished floor) some low friction material (slide mat), and perform a running slide in an arc holding on to a rope. By holding on to the rope you create centripetal force that you have to balance against whilst sliding around in a half circle.

3. Inertia Training against inertia is usually more fun than the other areas. Basically, it involves adjusting your balance when both you and your base of support is moving. The most common form of training in this area is the use of skateboards. When you turn a skateboard your body is adjusting to the constantly changing forces on your centre of mass, which is trying to continue in one direction. Other good ways to train against inertia include wakeboarding, snowboarding, windsurfing and kitesurfing. You have to be careful not to spend too much time training on these toys. They may help your balance, but they can also have detrimental effects on your surfing technique and feel.

Different board shapes and fins will also help you train to balance against inertia. Looser boards like single and twin fins allow the force of inertia to affect your movement in turns much more than the thrusters. By experimenting with different shapes and fins, you’ll be better able to adjust or “feel” to how inertia affects your balance.

4. Base of Support The wider apart the feet are, the more balanced you are but the less freedom of movement you have, meaning the less maneuverable you are. Check out how close together MR’s feet are back in figure 4. The more balance training you do with your feet close together, the better your ability to surf with your feet closer together on the board.

The narrower the base of support, the harder it is to balance. Super narrow (width <18 inch) training boards are also a good way to train your balance. Many Olympic rowers will do their pre-race warm up with a rope hanging off the back of the boat dragging a wet towel behind them. They get rid of the towel just before the start of the race, and suddenly the boat feels super light and fast through the water. The same thing can be done with surfing. If you go for a session on a super narrow board which is hard to balance, you then jump on your normal board and suddenly it feels really stable and you feel more confident on the wave. This is more of a training tool for the competitive surfer or the junior’s with shapers helping them out. The more unstable the base of support, the harder it is to balance as well. Standing on a fit ball is a perfect example. Other good ways of training this area is in a pool, standing on anything you can find that floats. Even when you’re out the back waiting for the next set, see how long you can stand on your board in the one spot. Then see how close together you can get your feet on the board and still maintain balance. So, hopefully that’s explained a bit about balance and how to improve it. The laws of science, as boring as they are, can answer all questions in surfing, and once you have the answers you can use them to improve your surfing.

The laws of science, as boring as they are, can answer all questions in surfing, and once you have the answers you can improve your performance! …the only thing science can’t explain in surfing, the only thing that defies all laws of physics, is Tom Carroll’s snap on the vertical wall at the ’91 pipe masters!

A very big thank you to Dan Merkel for permission to use the awesome MR photo from Bustin’ Down the Door. Check out more of his photos at www.danmerkelmedia.com. If you have any questions, would like any further information about harness or slide mat exercises, or have any comments in agreement or disagreement with the content, email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About The Author: Scott has been surfing for over 20 years, and has over 10 years of experience in sports physiotherapy, working with numerous elite athletes in Australia from Olympic gold medalists to Rugby Union players. In 2008 he completed a post graduate scholarship at the Biomechanics Department of the Australian Institute of Sport, assisting in the preparation of the Australian Olympic team. Scott has recently become a partner at Ferry Rd Physio on the Gold Coast, and continues to work for the Australian Rowing team, the NSW Institute of Sport, and is a guest Lecturer at Bond University.


Shark Experts Focus Their Research on the Region

Experts from South Africa&aposs KwaZulu-Natal Sharks Board (KZNSB) have been drafted in to study the region. They are now catching and tagging sharks with tags which emit an acoustic signal every few minutes. These signals are then picked up by underwater receivers and the data is sent back to the base, allowing oceanographers to track the movement of these sharks.

The research is being directed towards tiger and bull sharks, as those two species have both been involved in the strange events unfolding at Second Beach. Meanwhile, the municipality has discussed installing expensive shark nets around the beach, but this option is not without its pitfalls, too. Installing shark nets will kill many species in addition to the protected sharks.

Secondly, the geography of the coastline would make shark nets difficult to install and maintain, owing to the long, shallow distance from the shore one has to go before reaching waters deeper than waist-deep. Surfers in the deeper water would be offered no protection from the shark nets if they were installed. Unfortunately, no long-term solution has been confirmed.


In 2012, Amit Inbar, an Israeli windsurfer, stated that "kiteboarding is ten times more dangerous than windsurfing."

Both sports were fighting for a spot in the Olympic program, and the discussions between both sides of the barricade were slightly heated up.

But, how accurate was Inbar's statement? Were people putting their lives at risk by riding a kite in medium-to-high wind conditions?

The truth is that kite accidents are everywhere.

They're in the news, and scary footage featuring horrendous tragedies can be easily found in any popular video-sharing website like YouTube or Vimeo.

We all know the horrible truth. People have been seriously injured or killed while kiteboarding, and that is not good for any sport.

They've been slammed against piers and breakwaters, buildings and parking lots, or thrown up in the air like marionettes before free-falling from impossible heights.

In the first decade of the new millennium, kiteboarding developed a negative reputation essentially through terrible pictures and frightening videos of incredible crashes and disastrous line entanglements.

Sports specialists and detractors said that kite lines are like knives in high winds and that kites are bombs ready to explode at any moment.

Kiteboarding was constantly attacked for being a life-threatening sport that also put other people's lives - mainly surfers, windsurfers, bodyboarders, and beachgoers - in jeopardy.

So, is kiteboarding really dangerous? Are water sports enthusiasts signing a death warrant when they try kitesurfing for the first time?

Or are safety issues one of the myths that continue to depict the sport?

Kiteboarding vs. Other Sports

In 2016, Christiaan van Bergen led a study that analyzed the number and the seriousness of injuries windsurfers and kiteboarding suffered in the North Sea over a two-year period.

The research observed windsurfers and kiteboarders enjoying their time in the water in the same weather and environmental conditions and scrutinized the sports injuries presented at a coastal hospital.

"The injury rates were 5.2 per 1,000 hours of windsurfing and 7.0 per 1,000 hours of kitesurfing," the study reveals.

"Kitesurfers had a higher injury rate and required transport by ambulance, inpatient hospital stays, and operative treatment more often than windsurfers, even though the severity of the injuries does not differ."

"Most patients sustained minor injuries, but severe injuries also occurred, including vertebral and tibial plateau fractures."

"The lower extremities were affected the most, followed by the head and cervical spine, the upper extremities, and the trunk."

With seven injuries per 1,000 hours of physical activity, kiteboarding appears listed as a relatively safe sport, especially when compared to mainstream sports.

American football has an average of 36 injuries per 1,000 hours even soccer seems to be more dangerous with 19 injuries per 1,000 hours of sporting activity.

And if you take into consideration that the percentage of sports accidents taking place in the water and on land is identical, then it is fair to say that kitesurfing is, as we know it today, a reasonably safe sport.

Knowledge Reduces Danger

Like with any other physical activity, kiteboarding will never be a risk-free sport. There are many technical, environmental, and personal variables involved in the equation.

The wind is a very serious power source and is constantly shifting.

But today, safety is in the riders' hands. They're the ones who make kiteboarding a pleasant and secure sport or a lethal activity.

And more than 90 percent of the risks can be handled by getting to know how the sport works and what should be done to mitigate accidents.

If you've decided to learn to ride a kite, book a few lessons in a certified school.

And never go out by yourself without understanding how your wing flies in the wind window.

If you're desperate to start kiteboarding, get yourself a trainer kite and fly it in an open space area, unhooked from the harness, and in light wind conditions.

Get acquainted with the fundamental rules of kiteboarding and the safety sailing procedures, and respect everyone in and out of the water.