Height of the waves: Everything you need to know when measuring waves

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Height of the waves: Everything you need to know when measuring waves

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Knowing how to measure the height of the waves is a skill that every surfer must know, since in this way he can make quick decisions when riding a wave.

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In turn, it allows you to know what to expect in a surfing session among other aspects. In this post we share some of the most used and efficient ways to estimate the height of the waves.

How to measure a wave?

It is a very common question among surfers around the world for years. How to measure them correctly? What is the most exact way? What is the correct size for my level of surfing?.

It is a topic that is often discussed in the Surf school, common doubts among surfers who are just starting out and often leads them to make beginner mistakes. SurfLine launched in 1985 the surf manual 976-SURF.

Height of the waves
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Through this publication, it was sought to standardize the measurements and conditions of the waves worldwide.

967- SURF

According to the text, the size of the waves would be measured by the height seen from its face.

Also due to differences in metric systems around the world (Feet, inches, cm, etc). There were many problems in being able to accurately measure the waves.

Surfline decided to measure the waves also with bodies. Thus, for example, we could say that a 4-foot wave is a wave that comes “over the shoulder”.

Pages with satellite information

The second alternative is to use the websites that have satellite monitoring services.

The data collected via satellite offers a more general picture: temperature, height, depths, etc. One of the websites is Windy, where you can find all the necessary information about the state of the sea, weather conditions, wind, among others.

Bascom method

Developed by Willard Newell Bascom, Oceanographer and Engineer. It is a relatively simple way to do the calculation, based on physics and mathematics. All using the scientific method.

In practice it is complex for surfers to make the calculation exactly and precisely. In the first place, because the wave would have to be measured from its crest to the mean sea level seen from the shore.

Applying this method, the size of the wave is greater than what we can calculate when we surf it.

Hawaiian style

Hawaiian surfers have their own method of measuring waves: They measure it from the rear. Which results in problems, since there is no real way to measure them from behind.

Actually, it would be a matter of making an approximate calculation using our own height at the bottom point with respect to the lip.

It could be said that it would be dividing the height of the wave by two to obtain the result. In addition, there are other ways to measure waves, such as the one we surfers normally use on beaches: Measure them in relation to our own height.

Height of the waves

The so-called “waves for the head”, “waves for the chest”, does it sound to you? In any case, the only thing certain is that the waves are waves in constant movement, they change in height as they approach the coast.

The depth and bathymetry of the seabed affect them. Therefore, an exact measurement is very complex, we would talk about approximate measurements that we could make when viewing a photograph or video.

These are some methods that can help you to estimate the height of the waves, which one do you use?.

If you are looking to get started in the world of surfing, or want to improve your knowledge, a good initiation surfcamp can help you to be a better surfer.

Surfcamp in Nicaragua
Surfcamp at Las Dunas Surf Resort in Aposentillo, Nicaragua.