Friday, March 16, 2012

Surf terms defined: offshore vs onshore wind

These are two of the terms you will hear the most during the rest of your life as a surfer. They can mean the difference between an epic day and a horrible one. You can probably guess what they mean, but how do they affect surf conditions?
If you can remember one thing, it would be onshore = bad, offshore = good. Why is that?

Well, if the wind is blowing on-shore (that is from out in the ocean and towards the beach), you can think of it as pressing down on the back of the wave and causing it to crumble early. This can give the waves that nasty look of a washing machine at full tilt.



On the other hand, an off-shore wind (blowing from the beach side and out towards the ocean) will tend to 'hold up' waves as it blows up the front of them. This helps give waves that pretty, smooth, blue face that is ideal for riding (as opposed to the messy whitewater mentioned above.)

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  5. Why do surfers refer to on shore and of shore the other way around? in most meteorological references an on shore wind would refer to a wind originating from the shore. just like a westerly wind is coming from the west. is there a reason for this?

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