The anatomy of the best waves and secrets of their formation

Surfers of various levels and professionalism should understand the typology of waves and understand their nature and patterns in sports.

Everyone knows that there are no two identical waves, however, you could divide them into categories.

Moreover, there are even several such conditional categories, today we will analyze the main ones: according to the type of formation and form.big wave surfing

We all love to ride.

Where you have to find your best waves

Even if we do not ride, large oceanic massifs make an indelible impression on each of us. But for athletes – they are not just a beautiful phenomenon in the ocean, it is a source of pleasure.

At the very beginning of the surf path, we only know about them that they are, and that you could ride them. The further, the more knowledge we gain about them.

Today we want to add a bit of information to your piggy bank and talk about the anatomy and formation of these things, as well as about such a controversial topic as its assessment.

Formation of waves

First of all, we need to figure out how, in general, they begin their journey towards becoming eventually the way we see them – its formation.

When the wind blows in the open ocean, due to friction, it transfers part of its energy to water. The energy is called swell; it moves in the ocean in the same direction where the wind that formed it was blowing.

When such energy approaches the shore, he stumbles upon a sandbank.

Water that moved forward without any other way rises, a tubercle grows on the surface, which we see as a wave.

The smaller it becomes, the higher the hill grows, and at the moment when it reaches a critical height, it breaks – it visually “collapses”. It is on such bends of surfaces that the sport does it.

formed waves

It all starts far in the ocean, where strong winds blow and storms rage. The wind blows from the area of ​​high pressure to the area of ​​low.

In the ocean, these areas are separated by many kilometers, so the wind blows over a very large area, transferring part of its energy to the fluid due to friction.

Where it happens, the ocean is more like a bubbling soup: like a storm on the sea, only the scale is larger.

There are small and large bends, all mixed up, stacked on top of each other. However, the energy also does not stand still, but moves in a certain direction.

Due to the fact that the ocean is very, very large, and things of different sizes move at different speeds, while this whole simmering porridge reaches the shore, it is “sifted”, some small ones add up to others in large ones, others, on the contrary, are mutually destroyed .

As a result, what is called the Ground Swell comes to shore – smooth ridges, divided into sets from three to nine with small intervals of calm between them.

ground swell wave

Not every breath is destined to become great waves for surfing. Although, it’s more correct to say – not everywhere.

In order to be caught, it must collapse in a certain way. Its formation for surfing depends on the bottom structure in the coastal zone.

The ocean is very deep, so the mass of water moves evenly, but when it reaches shallow water near the shore, it slows down, its length is shortened, and the crest grows, that’s, it becomes higher.

It is easy to visualize – imagine a moving stretched spring, when it comes across an obstacle, begins to compress, and its diameter becomes larger.

In the place where the depth, or rather shallow, reaches a critical value, the rising wave can no longer become larger and collapses. The place where it happens is called a lineup, and that’s where the athletes sit, waiting for the right time.

The shape directly depends on the shape of the bottom: the sharper it becomes shallow, the sharper the bend will be.

Usually the sharpest and even trumpeting ones are born where the elevation is almost instantaneous, for example, at the bottom of a huge rock or the beginning of a reef plateau.

lineup surfing

The local coastal wind can also produce formation of small slopes, but it could also worsen their quality coming from the ocean, it all depends on its direction.

The so-called wind swells are fractures which do not have time to “sift” distance, since the storm is raging not so far from the coast.

Wind swells are usually worse in quality than round swells, as large and small skates come in a jumble, however, and you could  ride them, so our sport exists in some places.

If we talk about the effect of wind on the ground swell, if it blows ashore (the so-called “onshore” from the English onshore), it is the culprit of the uneven and closing ones, while the wind is from the shore (“offshore” from the English offshore) on the contrary, it contributes to the formation of stable parts, as it works as a kind of holding pillow.

wind swells

It is easiest to divide such mounds into types according to how they look visually.

The shape of such bends depends on the shape of the bottom over which it forms.

If the sandbank is smooth, then it grows slowly, resulting in a shallow shape.

At the same time, gentle can be both small and large, but their wall is always like a hill, inclined, and when it collapses, the foam seems to roll down the hill. Such rolling mounds are called flat.

These are the best waves for learning to surf.

If the sandbank at the formation site is sharp, then the bend itself will turn out sharp, with a steep, almost vertical wall.

These types of curvatures usually grow quickly and collapse quickly to ride on them, you need a good reaction speed, so these are things for more advanced surfers. They are called – sharp.

Ebbs and flows

The whole story is tied to periodic vertical fluctuations in the level of water in the oceans and seas caused by changes in the position of the moon relative to the earth.

It acts on our planet with its own gravity – in this case, two huge shafts are created at opposite ends of the globe.

They move according to the movements of the moon and their full cycle takes 13 hours, it is the reason why the waves move all the time on different days.

When the seas and oceans rise to the highest point – it is the maximum wave, when they fall – it  is the ebb. The intensity of these vertical vibrations directly depends on the degree of connection of a particular reservoir with the oceans.

That is, on the shores of a tiny lake in the mountains of Mongolia, the waves may not be felt at all.

On the other hand, if there is a river mouth in a place with a large level difference, it  could lead to such a phenomenon as a powerful tidal wave which sometimes rises upstream hundreds of kilometers.

flood and ebb formation

It is interesting the Sun enhances the power of the waves when it is in line with the Moon, that is, on the new moon.

Their opposite position at right angles to each other causes the smallest wave, called “quadrature”.

The difference in wave and their formation can be colossal. The highest waves and their formation in the world are observed in Canada in Fundy Bay and are up to 18 meters.

Can you imagine a column of water the height of a 6-story house which walks back and forth every 13 hours ?!

In Bali, the difference between the minimum and maximum formation is most often up to 2.5 meters. More than a two-meter water column is no joke.

Ocean Tides

Each surf spot ebbs and flows of the oceans affect in their own way. Somewhere a minimum may work well, in other places an average value or a maximum – all this is determined empirically.

Remember our “nature diaries” in geography classes? When a surfer has the opportunity to observe the coast at various tide values, generalizations and conclusions come by themselves.

Here is why even experienced riders use surf guides in unfamiliar places or read reports of experienced locales before choosing a time for a surf session.

The waters of the oceans go up and down under the influence of gravity of the moon and the sun, which also do not stand still.

The roundness of their round dance is not a multiple of hours in days, here is the reason why the time of the waves is different every day.

Wave directly affects our sport, so the ideal time for a lesson is determined by a knowledgeable person (in our case, an instructor). Waves for each place on the planet can be viewed on different specialized sites (not only surfers, but also sailors use them).

flood and ebb

The speed with which the curved surface moves toward the shore is different, if a sharp, growing, moves “forward” faster than “up”, then in shape it happens, as they say, with a spit the upper part of the so-called tubercle is twisted.

This spit, the forward flying forward, is called a linden. When the bends are very large and powerful, the linden can twist into a pipe.

Trumpeting waves are the most desirable for experienced surfers, the emotions from driving through the pipe are many times brighter than just riding.

The correct refraction for our sport does not collapse at the same time along the entire length, but starting from one place, so  the skater can go to the side along the twist.

In the direction of the collapse, and accordingly the direction of the athlete’s ride, the tides are divided into right and left.

Moreover, the direction is determined by looking from the ocean to the shore. If you need to turn right after the start, it is right, if left, then it is left. From the shore it looks the other way around – on the right twist, the surfer goes to the left, on the left – to the right.

It sounds confusing, but after the first lesson in real conditions it becomes clear.

formation of Tides on Earth by the moon

The term refraction explains the bending of the wave in the way that we see it in the end.

If you look closely, you can see significant differences between the waves of reefs, points and sand strips and their formation.

Defraction also affects their formation. So, she can also explain to you what happens to moving bodies of water when they come into collision with the bottom surface.

After such collisions, the energy is no longer randomly ordered, but becomes directed by some specific vector. The energy directs the flow of water in a form in which we then observe fluctuations in the water surface.

Our editorial team worked on several articles and physical methods in order to maximally explain the phenomenon described above, as well as pay attention to the fact you should know the shape of the seabed where you ride.

The geographical and physical formation of sandy or other types of bottom directly proportionally affects what the fluctuations of your smooth surface will be and how you will ride.

refraction wave's formation

To explain formation more simply, it is the curvature of the sea at a time when it overcomes different depth indicators.

All of it does not move at the same speed, because one part could change the depth faster, and the second can follow it.

When this happens in practice, the main part of the structure, as it were, goes off to the second.

Thus, we are able to distinguish the slowdown of the roller movement when it runs to the shore. Also, she herself slows down as she approaches smaller areas than herself.

When the main structure is leaning towards the second (slower) part, we are able to notice the main accumulation of energy falls on the opposite site – the front impetuous force.

The formation we describe that allows us to understand what happens when the swell encounters a shallow seabed in its path.

Simply put, the roller moves, passing different depths of the bottom and therefore that part of the mass that comes into contact with a shallower section of the bottom loses speed.

The rest of the structure continues to move at the same speed.

It is at this moment that refraction occurs it bends in the direction of the slow part. At this point, all the energy goes to the point where it met an obstacle and slowed down.

Consider the types of excesses and try to figure out how the physical process acts on them.

refraction waves

You must choose a place in accordance with your level of skiing. Otherwise, extreme will turn into danger for you.

Of course, while you are studying, it  is not a problem. Because the instructor himself will select for you the safest and most comfortable spot for training.

But after graduating, you will need to make your own decisions. And first, follow these rules:

  • Look for a spot with a sandy bottom.
  • Choose it without a lot of traffic.
  • Do not ride alone.
  • Practice gently sloping views.
  • Do not ride the spot, which is chosen by advanced masters. Firstly, perhaps it is a sign that this thing is not yet within your strength. And secondly, there is a risk of formation a dangerous situation.

Level 1 Surf

On the reef depths there are rather large values, so imagine how water moves along its surface to the shore.

It should be noted that as soon as a mound of water enters the reef region, its energy becomes less, and the high point begins to tend to low. Thus, the speed slows down and further movement occurs evenly from all sides.

At this time, the main part begins to lean towards a smaller area. Such a process is based on the focus of movement and manifests itself in the form of a bend concave inward.

Thanks to formation, we could enjoy great and good trips with you.

The reef forms a sharp step in the elevation, and a sharp lunge grows in this place. Sometimes at the bottom there may not be a reef, but a stone slab, but the essence does not change, so such things above the stone bottom are of the same type.

The peculiarity of these spots is that it always rises in the same place, and is always the same in shape. They are sharp and can blow.

tidal-range's formation

Already more experienced craftsmen ride these locations, who easily keep their balance on the board.

At such a place, energy breaks against a stone bottom, coral reefs or other obstacles.

In such a space, it rises stably in the same place. And its thickness and length depend on the size and shape of the reef barrier.

There are many such examples of formation in Bali, for example, Kuta Reef, Canggu, or Keramas Beach.


To correctly imagine the formation of such bends at a point, then you should imagine the beautiful bays bathing in the sun.

Moving away from prose, you could notice there the waves, which when entering the point will not lose their speed, approaching the shore through a powerful depth.

The method is not famous for the concentration of energy in one place, but rather disperses it over a large area, so it will wrap up to our point.

This is the reverse effect of the previous version, the resulting bend will be more convex throughout the point, not carrying clusters in one single place, but distributing it over long distances.

From this we could conclude that the result will be more long-term and permanent, we could make our trips more long on such things.

The type is determined not so much by the structure of the bottom as by the shape of the coastline. A stone or rock protruding into the ocean serves as an obstacle against which the force breaks, and then it closes along the obstacle.

Pointbreaks are gentle and sharp, but the main thing is that they are always very long.

Power occurs when a swell collides with the top of an underwater rock, cape, peninsula, stone ridge. The water goes around the obstacle and as a result rises one after another, breaking into smaller parts.

Professionals love such waves because they are long and of the correct form. There are a lot of spots of the type in Morocco.

The wave breaks on the sandy bottom. This is good for beginners because in the fall, he does not run the risk of bumping into coral reefs and underwater rocks.

Depending on the undercurrent, tide, wind and other factors, the place of rising may vary. In the same way, the type is able to also change – there are both flat and pipes on the beach break.

One of the best places like this is in Hossegor (France).

There are necessary conditions for the energy to stand very close to the sandy beach, where there is a shallow sandbank.

Since the sand at the bottom constantly moves slightly, the bend rises differently each time, then to the right, then to the left.

Also, they could come either right or left, and it is on beach breaks that there are most closures. It is best to start training on the option, twisting is more gentle here, in addition, the sandy bottom is safe.

What other types are there

It turns out that you are able to ride on things of a completely different origin, for example, in a river.

It happens that a rocky threshold forms a small “bowl” in the channel, the flow moves almost upward along its edge,  doing formation of  a standing wave.

The most striking example of formation is in a city park in Munich, where every day a line of surfers wishing to ride is formed. In addition, there are several places in the world with such a unique phenomenon as tidal boron.

Several times a year, usually on a new moon and a full moon, due to the rapid change in the ebb and flow, the roller level rises so fast that the ocean “pushes” it back into the river, and the consequences of this push move up the river for many more kilometers.

Such a WAVE is usually quite gentle and not even always collapsing, but it has a lot of energy, so it’s quite possible to catch it on a large board, and you could go not for some seconds, but literally until “your legs are dry”.

The world record belongs to the Australian James Cotton and is 17.2 km, which he rode for about an hour.

river surfing

In conclusion, I want to say that any gifts of nature will be very important for us as athletes and people who value nature.

Gentle – for teaching, sharp and trumpeted – to the joy of the experienced. River – as an extravagant highlight in life.

In Bali, all types of oceanic variations are abundant, which is why the  island attracts athletes from all over the world – everyone could find their own level and taste!

According to the steepness of the tides, there is no clear division, each is individual.

There are gentle longboard ones, and there are severe trumpeters. If it blows, then it only allows you to ride inside the pipe or not go at all.

Pipes (barrels) are the sharpest of all and often the most complex. To feel confident in the pipe a little more growth will require from 3 to 5 years of regular skiing (several times a week).

Everyone chooses his surf. Someone likes to relax relaxed on a longboard at low speeds, someone likes carving on massive things, someone likes airs on beach breaks, and someone likes barrels.

Surfing it is very different. And beautiful.



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