How To Measure a Wave for Surfing: A Quick & Easy Guide for Knowing Your Size



The question of wave size…

You just got out of the water from one of your best session ever (We all get one of those) or you’re going back home from a week at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp and you want to tell everyone about the waves you surfed… what are you going to tell them? One of the key points you are probably going to want to talk about is how big the waves were but that brings up the question: how do you measure the size of a wave?




If you’re new to surfing, and even if you’ve been around for a while, accurately measuring the heights of waves can be difficult.You cannot just say “the waves were big” that world is meaningless depending to whom you are talking. If you tell your eight year old little boy it will mean something completely different to him then telling Kelly Slater or Robert August!




In my experience, telling someone about the size of the waves has been a point of debate among surfers for a long time! When I get out of my surf session and tell my friends, they normally answer “you should have been there yesterday” for some reason yesterday was always better than today, when I know that I had an awesome surf session with “big” waves in my opinion.

Many people say you measure the back of the wave, but there are others who say the only right way would be to measure from the tip of the curl of the wave to the bottom, it pretty much depends on the culture.




So here is to the best method to tell the size of the wave, just use the human body as a reference. “Waist high,” “chest high,” or “head high”, “overhead” and so forth is a lot easier to understand & communicate than using feet, meters, or any other form of measurement. Even though these references also have different meanings to your eight year old son and Kelly Slater or Robert August, most people will accept that there is an average adult surfer that these references are talking about.

Now get out there and surf some “big” waves!

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