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Underwater fin surfing...

Thread Status: Hello , There was no answer in this thread for more than 60 days.
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Pete, if we agree on a name can we change the name of this thread? I'm not good at name changes, for instance if "Beth" changed her name to "Star Fire" I would still call her Beth. So it will be an effort to change from underwater bodysurfing but not a big one. Subsurfing is good, short and sweet. Porpoising is close but I use it to describe the act of popping out on the surface and then popping back under to gain more speed.

The Ferry comment was inspired by that clip of Tanker surfing. It got me wondering too.

Longest rides? For me around 25 yards, body surfing with a little porpoising and underwater take off? 50 to 75 yards.

Surfer traffic? I try to predetermine the direction of my ride before going under and make sure the way is clear, you rarely get respect from board surfers in the line-up. The protocol for board surfers is "pretend the bodysurfer isn't even there". Last years collision between the top of my head and a board which cracked 4" inches of the guys tail rail (the thickest part of the board) still has me wondering why my wife isn't at my bedside getting ready to turn off the life support.

Hands behind or in front? It's kind of like freelove/unsafe sex, feels great but not worth the ultimate consequences. Hands out in front now seems just as fluid for me and much safer. Today I was down at Secret's (see that link a couple posts back) and caught an underwater ride in between some regular bodysurfing. I took it one arm out in front and porpoised a few times, one arm's good too.

Vancouver island? I hitched up there once. Long Beach. Ate a pot of mussels and then turned around to see a Mussel Quarantine sign posted on the tree behind me. There are a couple of ladies here, surfers/ashtanga yoginis, who hale from there. They talk about good surf there, and yoga too. Good luck!

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Gday Lads,

Tanker Surfing!!?!!?

Sounds on. I live by a pretty busy harbour so if I had the kahunas it would be on. More consistent than the beach here anyway!!! But the Kahuna factor is a biggie. Might go out for a reconnaisance mission on my mates Jet Ski sometime. Would be pretty cool to cruise for ages on one like Pete describes. Would definately start with a smaller boats wake first though.

So Sub Surfing seems to be the consensus. There is still time for more suggestions, I only really suggested those names to get us started. Otherwise a new thread could be the ticket there Tom.

Longest ride for me was end of last year and would've involved about 15 seconds of clean water before it broke. I kept riding it in but by that time i'd popped out on top and was riding in the whitewash so it doesnt really count.

Surfer traffic doesnt bother me here because theres about 40km coastline, and it doesnt break really good that often so theres plenty for everyone. Hardcore surfers generally go to other spots, but they're all pretty cruzy anyway. No big fisties like in the vids.

Hands out in front - I tried it again today having heard a few of you talk it up and its not too bad. It feels like your going faster. Takes a little while to get used to it though. I face planted a couple of times and grazed a knee before I figured out where to aim my arms. I think it would help getting air as well. A nice big pull just as your breaching should work a treat ;)

As far as filming it goes I think it'd be tough for someone starting out to do anything other than get what they could when and where they could. Static, with enough vis to watch you cruise by. Eventually though, with a bit of practice and the right equipment, anythings possible.....

I first saw underwater bodysurfing in a surf flick in the early 70s. I was really taken by it, but have never seen anyone doing it since ( I can't see myself!). Having landed in Alaska some years ago, I seldom practice (only on witner trips to Hawaii). I do it only on soft waves. Hollow tubes obviously require a different style. I do a normal underwater takeoff, and keep my head down, arms at my side. Very small changes in body position can radically alter direction, due to the power in the wave. I've never tried to keep my eyes open, leaving it to pure tactile sensation.
Wayne Levin's book "Through a Liquid Mirror" has two photos of underwater surfing. One is of the takeoff, and the other is a great photo of a bodysurfer riding in the wave.
Its as pure as you can get is surfing.
I vote 'sub-serfing' as well.
In the beach I usually go to play in the water the waves can be half to one meter high yet 40cm above the sandy bottom. Yes, I have scars from taking a couple of those. :hmm
I'm not sure where and if I can actually sub-surf here. Being clueless about surfing in general doesn't help.
Towing behind a boat is about the same thing. Keeping your goggles on is a problem though. You'll need them to be tight and real low profile. Or..or! Strapping one of those little battery powered scooters to your ankles! Who needs waves? You're just looking for a little momentum ay?
Had a chance to try lessons from this thread today. Thanks guys, you are good teachers.
Another unusually good day of surf(for Sarasota), 3-4 ft face, combined wind chop and swell, beach break, not much shoulder. I tried going further out than normal but the waves had no power to keep me going. Moved in to just outside where I would normally be, did an underwater take off(my first), felt the wave pick me up, going fast, enjoying the power and suddenly my arms head and shoulders were punched through the face of the wave just as it broke. This was totally unplanned and unexpected. Next wave , same process but it picked me up real strong and blasted me through the wave face, felt like it was up high near the lip. It was like being shot out of a cannon. I came out of the water well past my waist, maybe all but my fins. Then I angled down in free fall, entering the base of the wave as it broke behind me. WOW!! That was Great!!
I would love to see a picture of somebody doing that. Given bigger and slower breaking waves, I think it would be possible to repeat the process several times on the some wave.
Played with this for a couple of hours. Many more rides, but never achieved as good a result as the second wave. Tried breaching with little success, need some more work on that one.

Questions: 1. What depth is right for blasting out of the face?? I tried deep and that didn't work, the wave just went over me. Tried shallow and that got me through the wave low on the face and the ride continued as a normal surface body surf. Mid depth seemed best but I never really figured it out.
2. Once you get good at this, can you consistantly blast through the face and get near to airborne (like ride #2)??


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Hello everyone,
it's been a while since i was last here and what can i say, i'm sooo happy to see the way so much interest is generated and so many people are joining in. great to have Tom here with much more experience than me to help us all progress. been working on another project (foilboarding) mentioned in an earlier post by someone but i'm back in full action to take all this further. good to see subsurfing accepted, i think it's the way to go name wise. there is so much to be said and so much more to be done. about the wake issue, i subsurfed behind a paracraft (big powerboat with a platform on the back for launching and towing a parachute with someone attached to it) wich generates a generous wake, about 8 months ago. only tried it that one time so far but i can say that it's possible, has potential and is an amazing feeling. being in open deep water, i had to concentrate on staying close to the surface in order not to loose the wakes push. just like the natural wave counterpart, it's again all about feeling. so true what Tom said, learning with the eyes closed is very usefull for developing that sense of positioning. and YES, we need our own website, or a special section on this one to start out. subsurfing has existed forever (dolphins) and was probably practiced allong with bodysurfing by ancient polynesians (or others) way before the use of any kind of board for wave surfing. although it surfing's purest expression, it has always remained hidden, burried, unrevieled, and in the shadow of other forms of surfing. we can change that...
Hi Guys

Good to have you back Noa. Riding that boat wake sounds like FUN, and that foil boarding looks pretty gnarly.

I know how it gets with other projects as my business is taking up 280% of my time at the moment.

Connor - Blasting out of the face sounds much like what I do. I started doing it in exactly the same way you did, by accident, and have refined it slighty so that my timing is right (just as the wave breaks) and by adjusting my angle. I'm not sure that breaching (which I have been using) is the right word. Perhaps breaching should be used as a term for coming up for air when riding unbroken waves. Does that sound right to you guys? The other thing I realise I haven't mentioned is that when you're trying to "pop out of the wave" (popping?) or "get air" or "blast" (blasting?) you probably need goggles so you can see what the wave above you is doing. If you wait for it to break its too late. I haven't quite mastered the art of feeling the wave to that degree yet, although others might have. Unfortunately (as I'm sure your all thinking) goggles suck. I haven't had too much problem with my goggles coming off underwater (very tight swimming goggles) but as soon as my head pops out they end up as nose floss. I've been thinking of a way to make goggles that would work and have thought that a wetsuit hoodie with the right goggles sewn in somehow could work a treat.

Anyway guys must dash. I agree thats its about time for a new thread or section in this site. A full on website is easy, but we really do need some pics etc to put up there first. Perhaps Noa you would like to do the honours, (i.e. new thread) having kicked this one off in such fine fashion.


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I may be banished for this opinion but the following sums up my feelings about taking this to it's own web page. [ame="http://forums.deeperblue.net/showthread.php?p=531575#post531575"]freediving as a fad... - Page 3[/ame]

Plus the elements of this activity make it too wierd to promote. A bunch of people imitating dolphins? We could join the ladies in Kealekekua who swim every morning with the Dolphins and try to interact with them in ways that would make you blush.

That and the fact that wearing Speedo's is still a poor fashion statement in most of America. My daughters make me go down the beach before I drop my boardshorts and walk in to the waves a'la Speedo. I tell them "hey, I've been making poor fashion statements in swimwear since 1960, I can't stop now!"

Kidding aside, I tried a modified goggle rig with a strap over the top of my head. Then goggles glued to a waterpolo cap.(In the privacy of my shop, in case I had a real winner of an invention). I vetoed it for gear reasons. This sport is just naturally anti-gear. I tried it out of neccessity. My eyes get so red everytime I bodysurf that my employees and customers think I'm stoned all the time. Also thought the sand and water was ruining my vision. Come to find out my vision was going because of age like everyone else around me.

I tried out my full body Speedo for bodysurfing too (kept for coastal swimming to ward off sun and jellyfish). Theorizing that the "compression" wear would enhance the speed and laminar flo on the wave. No luck. Like a wet sock. Fins, and traditional Speedo work best. Most of the other bodysurfers over here wear Boardshorts instead in an illogical bow to todays fashions. I've never shaved down yet for Bike racing or Swim meets but that would be the next best thing for optimum laminar flow under water.

Noa, Hi! I've got to try your wake riding! Cool! If I had anytime to fool around I'd pursue that first. Forget finding a jet ski to tow in bodysurf, forget gearing up for kiteboarding or foil/kite boarding. I want to surf behind a boat!

After a Baja trek I dropped some dough on a daybarge boat dive out on this little rock off San Carlos. The Captain picked up a pack of fifty or so Dolphin in his wake and then let them play as he drove loops and "S's". They made me very jealous. The dive was good too, no dolphins but a couple of Sea lions that goofed around with me for an hour or so. I was the only freediver on the "barge" and apparently Sea lions find Scuba divers a little boring. I got to bob and weave and dip with them in nice clear green water to max depths. They enticed me to go further than I should have without a back up, it's when they started nipping (like over excited puppy's only two or three hundred pounds heavier) that I thought I'd better lighten up on the inter-species play.

Hello Tim and everyone,
thanks for the kind words mate. as i said, i'm really glad to have more people join in as i envision creating a core group of our "species" to develop and bring to the world in a grand scale this concept of subsurfing. as far as a website is concerned, true it's not difficult as long as we gather sufficient and adequate text and photo material. it would ideally be of profesionnal appearance and contents, as it's actually our display to the outer world which is unfamiliar with what we do. one idea would be to organise a time and place, for example Hawaii next winter, for us all (and whoever has joined in by then) to meet, share waves, stories, experiences, good times, and gather material for an initial story that could be distributed to interested media and start off the website too. what do you think ? now lets talk jumps. as you said getting air on the way out (opposite direction of wich the wave is traveling) is fairly easy. one of my most memorable airs was jumping off a wave and over a surfer who had just surfaced behind the wave after duck diving, i'll never forget the look on his face. once you try them you keep on wanting to go higher, totaly addictive. goggle wise, i'm now using Aqua Sphere Seal XP and they work pretty well in the weak waves i'm forced to ride over where i am now (Crete, Greece). the problem with surfing goggleless is that when you gain speed, the friction hurts the eyes, so it's a two edged sword. ok, last but not least, keep checking the subsurfing threads, contribute with whatever you want to express, and help spread the word.
Well, I think a glimmer of understanding is begining to form. We had an unexpected, small (2-3 face) and clean swell today. With a consistant wave, I pretty quickly learned how to position inside the wave to get ejected through the face at approximately the right time. No skill yet, but I understand the process and the physics, at least a little. It helped a lot to go back and read this thread start to finish. Amazing how much info was there that I didn't get the first time. Thanks especially to Tom, Tim and noa. Can't wait for some bigger swells.

There seem to be two different ride concepts that have been discussed here. One is essentially straight in toward the beach, underwater takeoff, pop out the face, dolphin, or stay underwater. This one, I roughly understand. The second is noa's original idea which involves riding the wave parallel to the beach. This is what I like to do on the surface, but I have no clue how to do it underwater with no visual guides. Any pointers? Does this require a wave with good shoulders that peals off like a point break? Most of ours are beach breaks and shoulders are often hard to come by.

Tom, glad to see somebody else wears a stream lined suit. May not be "stylish" but it always seemed sort of silly to wear a cool looking anchor when body surfing or free diving. I even got my kids convinced after one tried to body surf in a baggy suit. Your full body speedo, was that one of the "drag reducing" suits? I've wondered about those. A body shave, eh. Hummm, given the extra high speeds of sub surfing, it should have even more impact that for competitive swimmers. Maybe we have a new fashion idea here.


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Hehe, and I'll stick with my board shorts. I'm still only 23 and I have a feeling that in my country its actually illegal to wear speedos or anything even closely resemling a full body suit until your well into your thirties!!! :blackeye

(hehe - just joking guys, Im sure they're highly functional)
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HA! Given the freedom by my parents not to excel scholastically I never went to University. I'm afraid to admit that one University did accept my application though. You guessed it, Chico State! It's a shame they couldn't spell "Deep".

OK, I'll help with the first annual Sub Surfing Boogie. I nominate the North Shore of Kauai for the location. I know of about ten or fifteen spots where during January or February the problem is not whether there are waves but finding where it's not so big that you can get in and get out in one piece.

Just last month Dave and I, (You'll meet Dave, he's a contender at Pipeline events but is a stubborn advocate of traditional bodysurfing. If I can just get one other sub-naut over here he may humor us by trying an underwater take-off.) we checked the whole North Shore one morning and reduced our options to two spots, Waicoco's or Pinetrees. Waicoco's was 5-7 foot (10 -15 foot faces), glassy, clear, an increasing swell energy and no one out. I said, "Well, we could go out at Pinetrees and just surf or we could go out here, surf and have a story to tell your friends back on Oahu." We chose the latter and had one of the best sessions all winter. Big Rights, underwater take-offs, glassy barrels, warm sun. I'd be riding and he'd be kicking back out, he'd be riding and I'd be kicking back out. Average rides were 75 yards, but only seconds long. Like bullets shot out a rifle barrel!

I can arrange a great house for up to ten or so people for only 250(us)/per night. I'll sponsor a dinner or two, I own a Bakery and Pizza cafe'. I'm sure Dave will pop for some fine wine, he's a wine salesman with a respectable cellar.

Surf's dropping off this time of year, as soon as it gets light out this morning we're swimming down the Napali Coast to check a little beach break called Hanakapia. For an image that'll make you want to join us next winter Google images with those words "Napali Coast".
Great to see you guys agree with the Hawaii idea. Tom last time i was in Hawaii (Oahu-Maui in 99) i really wanted to go to Kauai but ran out of time, so if you're willing to help organise some of the arrangements i'd love to come some time next winter. There is no better way to discover a place than with the help of a friendly local and if he happens to be a fellow subsurfer, well thats the cherry on the cake. Tim it's good to have you know your way around computers and websites, we can try to set up a site before Hawaii if you think it's needed quicky, lets just see what contents we can gather till then. It would be good to try to enlarge the number of people interested in subsurfing here already, so when a site goes up there is already a number of people to spread the word and go see it. As far as getting our own section here, i guess we have to prove to the moderators of this site that this subject is worthy of it's own section by having lots of people looking and posting on this or future threads about subsurfing. Tom seems to believe that our activity is only for a few odd excentrics. Maybe thats true, but i want to find out where it can go and the only way is to give this a go. You know, for a long time i've only talked about subsurfing to a few select who always where amazed and when i posted here i never thought anyone would read let alone reply to my post. I remember a few years ago, being in Manly beach Sydney, in the Ripcurl store with my monofin under my arm and the guys selling the surfboards asking me what i do with this fin. As i was starting to explain to them how i subsurf, a video called "Laird" showed Laird Hamilton subsurfing in the most basic way (just straight with the wave) and their jaws dropped at the site. That's when i said "that's what i do", and their jaws dropped again. There's potential here, the question is how much. I'm gonna go find out one way or another and i now get the impression that some of you want to join me, the more the better.
ps. Tim, as far as sharing riding styles, maybe it's better to do that directly in the water. it'll all happen in Kauai...
Come on guys, join in, let me know what you think of this so far. I'm waiting for your comments and then launching the follow up thread to this one.
Sounds like a great idea, but I'm way too far away, worse luck.

Hi Noa,

Were we thinking next winter? If so, I should be able to afford the trip by then. Whoa! What I am saying, how can I afford to miss out on the first ever subsurfer pow-wow ever?! Subsurferama? Subsurfer's of the World Unite?

Count me in for sure. I'll find a way. And I'll try to drag some people along with me.

Vancouver, BC
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