Advertisement
Share

Surfing gets scientific during conference at Scripps

Event looks at surfboard design, waves

Surfing showed its cerebral side on Saturday at Scripps Institution of Oceanography, where the Groundswell Society held its eighth annual Surfing Arts, Science and Issues Conference.

Usually, said the society’s co-founder Glenn Hening, “the only time surfers get together is at a trade show to sell stuff to each other or at a contest to compete against each other.”

But at Scripps the overall theme was finding common points of departure. Attendees were asked to quantify things and speak of them objectively - using evidence, not feelings.

Curtis Hesselgrave of Future Fin Systems discussed the application of aircraft wing research to surfboard fins, and images were shown of fin turbulence testing done by Steve Pendarvis at the Scripps Hydraulic Laboratory.

Advertisement

Dr. Jose Borrero detailed attempts to plant artificial reefs in oceans around the world which result in new breaks, while Marshall Myrman of Wave Loch Inc. talked about that company’s experiments in creating waves not in oceans - but in large pools.

Dr. David Sandwell, professor of geophysics at Scripps - in the first installment of a new series of lectures named after one of the most honored men in oceanography, La Jolla resident Dr. Walter Munk - spoke to the point that what surfers feel might not be what is actually going on.

Sandwell threw doubt on the commonly held notion that waves come in sets, providing numbers and graphs to support his statement.

“I hope I don’t ruin surfing for you,” he said at one point. “You’ll be out there thinking about equations.”

Advertisement

But this was not the day to worry.

As Hening spoke for the group, “There’s nothing better than being able to talk about surfboards and Descartes and Kepler in the same sentence.”