Surfing the Force
When you’re surfing, ever notice there’s this kind of area, usually around your forward foot that seems to be pushing back? Well, it is, and in the theory of simple planing surfaces, it roughly correlates with the peak of the pressure distribution that develops from the flow impacting the underside of your board.
Ever notice that it moves? More to the point, ever notice what you instinctually do when it does? It actually does move around, and when it does, my bet is you do what most do, try and find it again, or recapture it, without given it much thought. Usually a shift in body stance (shift in weight without a change in position), possibly a bit of shuffling (shift in weight through a change in position), or a small adjustment in the angle of the board (shift in bottom presentation) does the trick, though occasionally recapturing the ‘force’ requires a lot more.
It moves around because its position is a function of weight distribution, bottom presentation and the characteristics of the impacting flow on the bottom of the board. In general, the greater the flow, the farther back in moves, but not always. It also need not occur along the centerline. The reason it does appear where is usually appears, has a lot to do with the surfer making the right adjustments to place and keep it there, hence the title of this post “Surfing the Force”.
In longboards the area is generally more diffuse, but its still palpable. And this is what still makes longboards neat, if it moves you’re not restricted to changing your stance or shuffling your feet a little, you can start walking. (Sort of sneak up on it with wee little steps.)
I guess the point I wish to make is that it’s there, and you surf it, but that most aren’t aware that that’s what they’re actually surfing. But don’t take my word for it, close your eyes the next time your catch a wave, you’ll find you can still surf just by tracking the ‘force’. (You may want to try this on less than crowded days.)
Once again I may have exaggerated to make the point, obviously vision is a big plus when surfing.
It was hard to avoid the Star Wars puns.