The fall line

Could someone please explain the differences between “fall line” surfing and whatever else styles of wave riding there are? Thank you.

“The cow is of the bovine ilk, one end is moo the other milk.” Yes, surfing can be complicated,or not.

Ive heard say George Greenough is the worlds greatest fall line surfer. I still dont know what it means. A friend said Nat Young wrote a book long ago called the "Fall Line", no? Its a skiing term, but applied to surfing? Someone should please help explain?

The fall line I know about is in skiing…straight down the slope. I read an article in Surfer Magazine just as the short board revolution hit about the “Curl Line” which was defined as “the direction that kept you in the steepest portion of the wave”. There was talk about turning around the “curl line” but it was all magazine stuff. No one I knew ever talked “curl line”. Maybe you are talking about “down the line surfing”, which is a style whose goal is to make the wave rather than perform maneuvers. A down the line surfer tends to draw long turns and trims rather than vertical, lip bashes or airs…

The “fall line” are the lines (trajectories) across a wave where most surfers tend to fall off.

i believe the fall line and curl line as described by Lee are the’s where the juice is brutha!

I would think a “fall line” or rather “down the line” surfer would be someone like Terry Fitzgerald who works the wave for maxium speed instead of alot of vertical move and staying in the “pocket”. I know I’m old school but I love to watch someone just tear a wave apart with flowing powerful drawn out turns carrying alot of speed through the direction changes as opposed to the linked “slash” moves.

I was talking to Dale Solomonson about this recently because he made me a custom surf mat and I’ve just been having a blast with it. It’s funny because it’s both tiring and relaxing at this point. I’m not used to flippers so it tires me out pretty quick but I’ve come out of some recent mat sessions feeling stoke like a new baby, a real refreshing stoke, a lot like bodysurfing or something. It’s been a good breather and reminder of how simple and fun it can be to go surfing, even in sunny southern california. One of the best things we got for the State of S movie (Greenough Documnetary)was George talking about fall line surfing. I probably won’t get the terminology straight but basically standing up, kneeling and proning all have different levels of body torque that can be applied to move a craft and put it through it’s motions. Standing up you have a maximum application of body torque, where as on a mat you have a relatively small ammount of body torque that can be applied. So because you can’t pump and generate speed by tic-tacking, leaning, forcing water through fins,etc., it forces you to “read” the wave alot better. That’s all you’ve got in terms of maintaining speed after the kicks and a couple of wiggles. Good thing is, mat is damn fast. I’m sold on stand-up surfing and the feel of applying your maximum potential body torque to a board (stand-up surfing) however, I think the mat could be an invaluable trainer for anyone interested in reading the fall lines of a wave. George is by far the best fall line rider I’ve ever witnessed and rides faster on a rubber ducky than Fanning on polystryrene. Maybe? I don’t know, maybe somebody could get some radar guns and shoot them both at the super bank or some undisclosed mysto speed-point. Be curious if someone could do a speed test on the world’s fastest. Somebody could probably kill it on that format or incorporate tracking speed levels into one of the bigger circuits. Would be tantalizing stats as well. As far as I can tell, fall-line and curl-line are one and the same, Pro’s and media seem to call it “linkage” and it’s basically just your “read”, like watching a good intuitive skater work a bunch of inter-connected bowls and maintaining lot’s of speed by selecting efficient lines and not wasting speed. That’s why I think Curren always looks so damn good. Minimalism. To bite and spin PT’s Jazz metaphor, I think it’s the silence in Curren on a wave (inaction)that makes it art. With GG though, he pretty much is the wave. He’s not even there. What I was so stoked on, as far being a fresh new kook mat rider was that it sort of unlocked some levels in my head about surfing, particularly the real implications of fall-line surfing. The whole thing is kind of like chess in that the really good surfers see, read, and make sounder snap-decision adjustments about line changes that are occurring way further down the line than the rest of us are able to imagine and is maybe the biggest thing that sets apart different skill levels of surfers. Alot of surfers (myself included)get sidetracked into thinking about single manuevers rather than a larger understanding of how all those turns fit together through an entire wave. Sorry for the novel. I am relative newbie and apprentice shaper so I apologize in advance for anything I may have got incorrect or mis-represented. I think the mats and the stuff I saw in OZ leave open for me, as a wide-eyed kid, the possiblity of a board being made with alternative higher-tech materials such as the blue DOW foam, epoxy, carbon fiber, peel-ply, vaccuum-bag yadayada. The speed of the mat also leaves open, for me, the potential viability in hollow boards. Either design would probably need years of tests on buoyancy, weight, flex memory, etc… NOTHING VENTURED NOTHING GAINED It will probably take a lot of early failures and steps made too far into some directions, but hopefully sometime the pendulum will swing back within reason and we can then make a board that is current with todays material science and knowledge about flex and hydrodynamics. George seems to have come to alot of break-thoughs by looking outside of the marketplace to fish, professional race cars, NASA etc. I think that’s where new stuff will have to come from not from sticking to the status quo and letting the marketplace dictate performance standards and what is possible. Marc Tomson’s Flex-Tails and peel-ply extruders seem like a logical jumping off point in terms of applying GG’s variable rocker and lust for “the good gear” made out of the good stuff. Pros probably also don’t ride them because none of us can afford to make enough of them to dial them in properly. And the people who can afford it probably have the money because they haven’t been chasing a pipe dream like extruded foam for years. Hopefully there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. I want the good gear.

If you find out more about that book please post something. Sounds juicy.

Thanks BT! Your insights made me feel as though a sunny window was opened in a darkened room. Now Im curious. Is that "mat" thingie you mentioned really that quick, or is it more about George Greenough himself? Ill bet he could make almost anything (like the front door!) trim fast across a wave!

BT- where to get the State of S movie (Greenough Documnetary)? Online ordering- website, etc ?

Awesome BT! Where can I get your movie/documentary? Tankx in advance.

It was an award-winning film documentary, “Fall-Line”, by Robert (Nat) Young, Australia, 1979. “His new found love of skiing gave him a deep understanding of the similarities between surfing and skiing and in 79 he wrote and produced an award winning documentary called “Fall-Line”.” (

Doesn`t Greenough ride his kneeboards? I thought they were fastest.

So whats happening now with those boards by Marc Tomson? (sp?) There was an inquiry about him a while back- can you fill us in? Thanks. Re: Marc Thomson- whereabouts? Carlin Hoffman -- Friday, 13 June 2003, at 1:28 p.m. Does anyone know how to contact Marc Thomson? Last known in NSW Australia? His email address is not working. He was famous and used to work for George Greenough. Was one of the worlds best surf mat riders, too. He also used to shape the most perfect carbon graphite, epoxy and EPS boards. With the greatest flex and LIGHT! He said part of that effect that was because his boards had the carbons weave laminated 45 degrees to the centerline. Last I heard he was working on adapting Greenoughs “paddle fin” idea to three-finnies. Good thanks.

Obviously GG and other long-time matters tear it to pieces but the mats really are super fast. Even for kooks[smile]

Working out distribution as we speak. Looks like it will be pretty widely available, knock on wood. Trailer at, more to come… Hopefully in stores by end of year, doing research on timing and window for sales…1st time with this stuff… lol

Not much kneeboarding and I venture that the mats are much faster…