The Components of Style in Surfing (And How to Develop Your Own)


What is style in the surf world? I’m not talking about the latest boardshorts here, I’m talking about style on a wave. Style to a surfer is akin to the style of a painter. It defines your craft, separates you from the pack, and ultimately, it’s your signature on the wave you’re riding. But what exactly is style composed of? And how do we average surfers develop our own style?


The first component of style is knowledge. Knowledge of the wave, what it’s going to do, what it can do, and what it has done. A great surfer will be so intimately in touch with the ocean that they can formulate each maneuver far in advance. To the naked eye, this may just look like sheer skill and athletic ability, but the surfer that looks most comfortable on a wave is backing up each maneuver with a wealth of knowledge about the ocean, surfing, and wave type.


Surfers aren’t born stylish. Even the greats were once beginners. But what do those with style do that the rest of us might not? They practice. They are in the water constantly, developing their craft and getting better. Sometimes they have to put surfing ahead of other aspects of life but love it or hate it, they get in the hours in the water.


When I think of surfers with style, I think of Rob Machado. Beyond the years on tour, the obvious talent, and the countless waves ridden, there’s something about Machado that puts him ahead of every other surfer when it comes to style. It’s his attitude. Laid-back, carefree, yet confident. He may be the best surfer in the water every time he paddles out, but that won’t stop him from riding wacky boards or going finless. Rob just want to have a good time and go surfing, and there’s something you have to respect about that.

Body Language

Have you ever seen someone catch a wave and, even if they rode it well, look as if they were holding on for dear life the entire time? Chances are you have. Body language is important on a wave. Having the pose to stand tall in a barrel, or the grace to cross step down a longboard are essential components of style.

The best part about surf style? Developing your own with each wave you surf. So, come on down to WRSC!


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