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Surfing is a surface water sport in which the surfer rides a surfboard on the crest and face of a wave, which is carrying the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are found primarily in the ocean, but are also sometimes found in lakes and rivers, and also in manmade wave pools.
Many variations of the sport may exist in certain areas and the definitions of what constitutes a suitable wave, and craft has expanded over the years. Bodysurfing involves riding the wave without a board, and is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing. Other variations that have existed for centuries include paipo boarding, stand up paddle surfing, and the use of boats or canoes to ride waves. More modern craft that are used include bodyboards, inflatable mats (surfmatting), and foils. As documented in various surfing documentaries (including ‘Fair Bits’) other objects have occasionally been used instead of surfboards, including water skiis, wakeboards, desks, guitars, and doors. When more than one person uses the same craft to ride a wave together, it is known as ‘tandem’ surfing.
Three major subdivisions within stand-up surfing are longboarding, shortboarding, and stand up paddle surfing (SUP), reflecting differences in board design, including surfboard length, riding style, and the kind of wave that is ridden.
In tow-in surfing (most often, but not exclusively, associated with big wave surfing), a motorized water vehicle, such as a personal watercraft, tows the surfer into the wave front, helping the surfer match a large wave's higher speed, which is generally a speed that a self-propelled surfer cannot match.
Surfing-related sports such as paddleboarding and sea kayaking do not require waves, and other derivative sports such as kitesurfing and windsurfing rely primarily on wind for power, yet all of these platforms may also be used to ride waves.
Recently with the use of V-drive boats, wake surfing, in which one surfs on the wake of a boat, has emerged.
Surfing can be done on various equipment, including surfboards, longboards, Stand Up Paddle boards (SUP's), bodyboards, wave skis, skimboards, kneeboards, surf mats and macca's trays.
Other equipment includes a leash (to stop the board from drifting away after a wipeout, and to prevent it from hitting other surfers), surf wax, traction pads (to keep a surfer's feet from slipping off the deck of the board), and fins (also known as skegs) which can either be permanently attached (glassed-on) or interchangeable.
Sportswear designed or particularly suitable for surfing may be sold as boardwear (the term is also used in snowboarding). In warmer climates, swimsuits, surf trunks or boardshorts are worn, and occasionally rash guards; in cold water surfers can opt to wear wetsuits, boots, hoods, and gloves to protect them against lower water temperatures. A newer introduction is a rash vest with a thin layer of titanium to provide maximum warmth without compromising mobility.
The modern shortboard began life in the late 1960s and has evolved into today's common thruster style, defined by its three fins, usually around 6 to 7 feet (1.8 to 2.1 m) in length. The thruster was invented by Australian shaper Simon Anderson.
Midsize boards, often called funboards, provide more maneuverability than a longboard, with more floation than a shortboard.
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