By Coach Benner
With the busy summer surfing season and many contests now afoot, some have found it difficult, as laymen or non-surfing public, to fully understand the basic meanings of surfing lingo or expressions that are used daily by surfers in conversations amongst themselves and their inner circle. Listed below are a few of the more common terminologies used within their vocabulary. It may help towards a better understanding of this colorful lingo. Some examples are: “dude,” “betty,” “backsider,” “frontsider,” and “goofyfoot.” These, along with other terms, are used by surfers and today’s press daily as an important part of the surfing culture.
Barrel: That large or small inside section of a wave that breaks, allowing a good surfer to pass through it and score heat-pleasing points. Some just call it a tube ride.
Betty: A female surfer of note, often just called a chick.
Dude: A term male surfers greet each other with when that person’s real name is unknown. It can be used for almost any male personality.
Dudette: A seldom used term for a woman surfer or female beachgoer.
Wahine: Originally a Hawaiian name for any female who loves the ocean. It is sometimes used as a general term for really top women surfers.
Backside: Surfing position in which the surfer rides with his fanny or back to the wave. It also refers to a surfer’s fanny.
Frontside: A position when surfing, where the surfer rides facing the wave.
Asphalt Surfer: Refers to skateboarders coasting along streets or down wild bone scraping asphalt hills. Good surfers make excellent skateboard riders, as many skateboarders make excellent surfers. Balance and maneuverability!
Carve: An action whereby the surfer maneuvers to cut the water with the rail of the surfboard, producing a very large spray.
Floater: A scoring maneuver in which the surfer lets his board run across the broken froth, or upper lip, of the wave.
Tailside: Where the surfer throws the tail of his board out of a carve, causing the tail end to slide. Also called a brodie.
Bone Crushers: Giant waves that crash or break over a surfer with dangerous bone-crushing or board-smashing force.
Cutback: A beautifully carved maneuver in which the surfer turns his board a full 180 degrees to get back to the whitewash part of a wave.
Goofy Foot: A stance in which the surfer rides with the right foot forward. This is the opposite of the surfer using the regular left foot forward.
Bottom Turn: Turning through the trough of a wave to proceed into an eye-catching snap aerial.
Deck: The top of a surfboard covered with wax for holding traction.
Green Room: That space a surfer finds inside a barrel or tube. Also called greenhouse.
Snap Off the Lip: A sharp quick turn by the surfer at the top of the wave.
Hang Loose: A surfer’s term for “Everything’s cool, Dude.” Hand signal called shaka by Hawaiians. Also “Ti-Ping Rebellion” identity greeting used by the Chinese during the rebellion of the 1850s – 1860s.
Stoked: A happy feeling of euphoria after successfully surfing a really great heat or wave.
Ding: Bad dent or scratch in one’s surfboard.
Swell: That energy that moves through the deep ocean, causing very large waves for many hours or even days. Also an insulting expression used by young people, such as, “Oh, swell.”
Point Break: A break in which the waves peel almost evenly along the edge of a headland.
Pearldive: An unsteady take-off that causes the surfer and his board to nosedive to the bottom of a wave.
Grom: A very young surfer with considerable talent.
Gremmie: Teen surfer with skill and talent beyond his years in the understanding of surfing and mastery of the waves.
Hang Ten: A surfing technique whereby a good surfer gets all ten of his toes over the tip or nose of his board.
Oz Land: A surfer’s shortcut wording when referring to the continent of Australia. Or Aussie, basically meaning Australian.
Longboard: Generally a surfboard longer than 9 feet, made of wood and having two or three coats of fiberglass.
Shortboard: A surfboard anywhere from 5 to 7 feet long, weighing about 5 to 6 pounds.
Bushed: For example, when a good surfer totally blows a good wave or wave set.
Lineup: The area where surfers gather to pick off the better waves.
Kook: That often unskilled surfer or grem who gets in the way of talented surfers; the type that has a better surfer saying, “Hey, surf my scraps closer to shore, Dude.”
Dropping In: Taking off in front of a surfer who is already standing. A form of poor surfing ethics, for most wave hogs who are never really happy.
Rubber Arm: Surfers who pretend to paddle their arms, but go nowhere purposely, trying to fake another surfer out of a good wave.
Filthy: An Australian surfer’s term referring to anything really good; for example, “He just caught a filthy” – meaning good – “wave.”
Hopefully the above will help the general public, young grom or gremmie to better understand what the two older surfers standing next to them might be mumbling about stating, “Aye, mate. Look at that kook out there on the shortboard. He just bushed a very good wave.” It’s a cool manner of speech within the surfing ranks; however, like some poetry, it makes for interesting writing, yet a somewhat funky conversation. “Congratulations to the Triton Surf Team for winning the NSSA title again.” b