Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some notes on noseriding…basic theory

One of the reasons, maybe the main reason, I ride a longboard is because I like to noseride. For me there’s no greater enjoyment in surfing than planing across the face of a wave with nothing in front of you but the wave. Well, sure, turning is fun, going fast is fun and dropping in on an overhead wave and cranking that big bottom turn is really fun. But to me, perching on the tip with the wind in your face and the lip hissing in your ear is pretty hard to beat. But it seems impossible to accomplish.

Nose riding isn’t too difficult if you understand how it’s possible. First you must understand that in most cases, only about 2’-3’ of the bottom of your board is “working” at any one time; that is to say, “planing” along the surface of the water.  And that’s the 2’-3’ directly beneath your feet. This is much more the case when you are trimming across the face or turning, then when you are just paddling. Surfboards have a curved bottom, and when there is enough forward motion, the board actually rises out of the water or begins to plane. On a longboard (LB) you move back and forth, shifting that 2’-3’ zone and taking advantage of differing rocker curves, rail shape and outline shape to speed up, slow down or turn. Wherever you are standing you are also applying your bodyweight in a downward force due to gravity. (On a shortboard there’s no need to move other than subtle weight-shifting back and forth. All the “work” is taking place in the back-half of the board.)

For noseriding, what’s going on at the tail of the board is just as important as what’s happening at the nose. Once the LB has been turned across the face of the wave and the wave begins to break, the tail of the board is covered with whitewater. The weight of this water on the top of the tail of the board is an important ingredient to the successful noseride. It helps to counter the weight of the surfer on the nose, much like a partner on a teeter-totter.  The bottom of the tail “kicks” or curves up abruptly in the last 20” or so. The flow of water along this part of the bottom creates suction, pulling the tail of the board down into the water (hold the convex side of a spoon against the stream of water from a faucet to demonstrate this suction. Notice how the spoon is drawn into the water flow), and complimenting the weight of the breaking wave on the deck. Then there's the fin, which ideally is wide and deep. It helps by keeping the tail anchored in a position on the wave where the water flow will hold down the tail. Finally, there is the physical weight of the tail-half of the board. Try picking up your board by the nose and you’ll immediately feel the weight of the tail. Remember what I said above about the work being done by the 2’-3’ beneath your feet? Well, when you’re on the nose, the 6’-7’ feet or so behind you is on the other side of an imaginary fulcrum.  That’s a long lever that multiples the downward effect of the all tail action. (And that’s also why there is an advantage to longer, heavier boards for noseriding)  As you can see, there’s a lot going on behind you.

Up front, on the nose, is where you hope to be. Some boards have a wide nose (18.5”+) for more planing area, and a concave on the bottom for added “lift” (do the faucet and spoon thing again, only this time hold the concave side of the spoon in the stream of water. Notice how the spoon wants to lift away from the water flow). Of course, you can noseride on a narrow nose with no concave, but the wide-nose with concave seems to work better when noseriding in small, mushy waves. Another nose design feature is the so-called “wing-nose” which features a hard, down-rail edge in the first 6” of the nose. This creates a wing-like profile in the shape of the nose, with curve on the deck-side and flat on the bottom-side. Water and/or air moving across such a nose shape is said create upward lift, at least theoretically.

Finally, the shape of the outline and the rails also serves to enhance noseriding. Most modern LB, like my Nova, have a continuous curve in the outline. The more classic-shaped LB, like my Neo, have much less curve in the outline and can be almost straight. These shapes are sometimes referred to as “popsicle sticks” due to their almost straight, parallel rails. The straighter rail line holds a straighter line across the face of the wave which aides noseriding.  Likewise, 50/50 rails hold into the wave face better than down-rails, and help to keep the rail from sliding down the wave-face.

So we have the weight of the surfer on the nose countered by the downward force on the tail (weight of water+weight of board + suction created by rocker) and upward force at the nose (lift from nose concave). Now, it’s just a question of getting from the tail to the nose.

Next: Noseriding Technique according to tp

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