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Surfing is a sport that consists of gliding over the waves on a board, balancing yourself and performing radical manoeuvres.

It’s an activity that requires skill, physical strength, courage and respect for nature. It also provides a lot of fun and adrenaline.

Want to find out how this world works? Then you’ve come to the right place. In this complete and up-to-date guide, we’ll tell you all about the history of the sport, as well as its fundamentals, techniques and the equipment used.

Check it out 👇

What is surfing?

Surfing is a water sport that consists of gliding over the waves on a board. The sport is practised by millions of people around the world, who have fun and challenge themselves in the seas.

To surf, you need a board that suits your size, weight and skill level, as well as a rubber suit to protect you from the cold, the sun and contact with the board. This guarantees your safety.

It is also essential to know how to swim and to be aware of the safety rules. Surfing therefore requires balance, strength, co-ordination and courage, providing numerous health benefits for the body and mind.

Finally, surfing is also a form of artistic and cultural expression that influences fashion, music, cinema and many people’s lifestyles.

How and when did surfing come about?

Como e quando o surfe surgiu?
How and when did surfing come about?

The origins of surfing go back to various ancient cultures that inhabited coastal regions, but the modern form of the sport, as we know it today, has its roots in Hawaii.



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The Polynesian natives of Hawaii practised a form of surfing called “he’e nalu” for centuries. They used hand-carved wooden boards to glide on the ocean waves.

At that time, surfing had significant cultural and religious importance for the Hawaiians, being associated with rituals and traditions.

However, European contact with Hawaii in the late 18th and early 19th centuries resulted in significant changes to the local culture.

During the 20th century, surfing began to popularise outside of Hawaii, especially in California in the United States, where it became an integral part of beach culture.

Modern surfing, with its competitions and the continuous evolution of boards and techniques, really came to the fore in the 20th century.

Today, the sport is practised all over the world, with a vibrant culture and a global community of enthusiasts.

Rules of surfing

Surfing competitions are usually organised in the form of heats, where surfers compete against each other over a given period of time.

In each heat, a certain number of athletes take to the sea to try to catch waves and present a repertoire of manoeuvres.

The heats usually last at least 15 minutes. In the meantime, the surfers must catch a specific number of waves. This number is set by the race director and cannot be exceeded.

The panel of judges then gives the surfers scores from 0 to 10, taking into account aspects such as balance, technique, skill, fluidity, creativity, power and the degree of complexity of the manoeuvres.

The best-rated surfers in each heat advance to the next stages. This process is repeated until only the finalists are left, who will decide the title.

Sea conditions, such as the size and quality of the waves, can significantly influence the performance of the competitors.

That’s why championships often wait for the best weather conditions to ensure a fair and exciting event.

Top surfing manoeuvres

manobras do surfe
PTop surfing manoeuvresrincipais manobras do surfe
  • Bottom Turn | A fundamental manoeuvre in which the surfer makes a turn at the bottom of the wave, gaining speed and preparing for more advanced manoeuvres;
  • Cutback | A wide turn performed at the top of the wave, often used to change direction and keep the surfer close to the crest;
  • Top Turn | Similar to the bottom turn, but performed at the top of the wave. It’s a manoeuvre used to make quick turns on the most critical part of the wave;
  • Snap | A quick, short turn on the critical part of the wave, usually accompanied by a snap of the board;
  • Floater | The surfer drives the board over the part of the wave without disconnecting from it, maintaining momentum;
  • Aerial | Aerial manoeuvres involve the surfer leaving the water, often performing spins or twirls in the air;
  • Tube Ride | Entering and surfing inside the hollow part of a wave, known as the tube. It is considered one of the most challenging and exciting manoeuvres;
  • 360 Reentry | A manoeuvre in which the surfer performs a complete turn while attacking the wall of the wave;
  • Layback | The surfer leans back, often touching the water with one hand, while maintaining control of the board;
  • Carve | A wide, flowing turn performed on the face of the wave, showing control and style;
  • Reverse | A manoeuvre in which the surfer turns the board 180 degrees, facing the wave backwards temporarily, before returning to the normal position.

Surf equipment

Surfers use a variety of equipment during championships to optimise their performance in different sea conditions.

The centrepiece of this arsenal is the surfboard, whose characteristics, such as size, shape and material, are adapted according to the athlete’s style.

To keep the board close to the surfer after a fall, it is essential to use the leash – a rope that connects the board to the surfer’s ankle. This not only makes it easier to recover the board, but also prevents it from posing a risk to other surfers in the area.

In places with colder waters, surfers resort to wetsuits, neoprene garments that provide thermal insulation, allowing for longer sessions in cold temperatures.

Adherence to the board is ensured by applying paraffin to its surface. The choice of paraffin depends on the water and weather conditions.

Major surfing championships

The WSL (World Surf League) is the main professional surfing competition. Held annually, it brings together the best athletes in the world. There are championships just for men and others just for women.

The competition is divided into different stages, held in different countries around the world. Competitors then add up points according to their placings. In the end, whoever has accumulated the most points wins the league.

The Olympic Games can also be considered one of the most important surfing tournaments on the calendar, as the sport has become an Olympic sport since Tokyo in 2020.

Held every four years, the competition is run along the same lines as the World Surf League, but in a single stage.

Greatest surfers of all time

Kelly Slater
Kelly Slater
  1. Kelly Slater
  2. Layne Beachley
  3. Duke Kahanamoku
  4. Corky Carroll
  5. Stephanie Gilmore
  6. Laird Hamilton
  7. Joyce Hoffman
  8. Shaun Tomson
  9. Lisa Andersen
  10. Tom Curren

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