Surfing is about more than what happens on the waves. Learn all the surfing terms you need to know to act like a pro, on and off the water.
Surfboard – An essential piece of equipment for any surfer. Surfboards often have an interior that is made of foam and an exterior of fiberglass cloth and resin. There are a variety of surfboard material, shapes, lengths, and fin styles available.
Wetsuit – A special bodysuit that is worn in the water to help surfers stay warm. Most wetsuits are made of neoprene, a type of rubber, making the suit heat absorbent. When a surfer wears a wetsuit, water becomes trapped between the neoprene and the skin, causing body heat to transfer to the water. This provides a layer of insulating warmth around the surfer’s body.
SUP – An acronym for “stand up paddleboarding.” This sport uses a longboard like a surfboard. The person who stands on the board uses a paddle to steer and move through the water. Stand up paddleboarding can be performed on calm or choppy bodies of water.
Skateboard – A short, narrow board with four wheels attached to each end of the board. Skateboards can be ridden in a standing or crouching position. A skateboard is used for transportation or for performing tricks. Some of the skills used in skateboarding are similar to those used in surfing, so many surfers use skateboards to practice their skills on land.
Wax – A paraffin substance that surfers rub on the decks of their surfboards to help their feet stay in place while surfing. Applying wax to the slippery surface of a board forms bumps that create traction. Wax usually comes in blocks or sticks, and there are different formulations that work in different water temperatures.
Tail patch – A thin pad of textured material that is mounted to the back end of the surfboard deck. Like surf wax, this pad adds traction to the board to help the surfer to keep his or her back foot in position. The tail patch also serves to protect the deck; without it, the pressure from a paddling surfer’s knees can eventually wear away the deck material. Other names for the tail patch are “tail pad,” “traction pad,” “deck grip” or “deck pad.”
Kook – A person who is not very good at surfing but thinks he or she is skilled. A kook often uses incorrect techniques but thinks that they are surfing properly. A kook also may not have an understanding of the social norms of surfing. This person can be a beginner, someone who hasn’t surfed often, or someone who is ignorant of proper surfing practices and etiquette. A kook may cause problems or danger for others who are surfing in the area. A person who doesn’t know much about surfing but is willing to learn from others, on the other hand, is not considered a kook.
Grom – A young surfer, typically younger than 16 or 18 years old. Because of that, the word is often associated with the idea of not yet being a strong surfer. Confusingly, there are some people who use the term specifically for kids who are really good at surfing, despite their youth. Above all, a grom is a young surfer, regardless of his or her skill level. Sometimes, young snowboarders, skateboarders or participants in other extreme sports are also called groms. Groms may also be called terms such as”grommet” and “gremmie.”
Drop in – When a surfer steals another surfer’s wave another surfer’s turn ride a wave. Dropping in is considered very rude and is bad surfing etiquette. This term can also be used more generally to describe riding a wave,in particular, standing up on the board and then sliding down the wave.
Rip tide – A strong and dangerous current. Rip tides are formed when a mass of water gathers at the shore then rushes back to deeper parts of the ocean. The current may move along the shore for a short distance before heading back out to sea. Rip tides also commonly occur between two sandbars. Both swimmers and surfers need to be aware so they don’t get caught in rip tides. Other names for a rip tide include “rip” and “rip current.”