The LeSabre

The LeSabre

The LeSabre

Everything you didn’t know about surfing

Surfing is an amazing hobby if you live close to the ocean. Sunset surfer by Pixabay is licensed under CCO.

Being that I am from Minnesota, the sport of surfing is not a topic that comes up often. However, to many people around the world surfing is a super influential sport, and even a lifestyle for many. I have always really been intrigued by it and have surfed a few times myself.

It is a sport I just really wanted to raise awareness and educate people about because it seems so foreign to so many, but to others is quite literally what their life revolves around. 

This is me surfing a wave in Oahu. It was an adventure! (Eddie Durwachter)

One of my favorite places in the world is Hawaii. Many Native Hawaiians found solace in the ocean as a traditional sanctuary during a challenging time in their history. Surfing also had a spiritual connection for Hawaiian society at one point too. I actually learned to surf in Hawaii, and I still remember the high I got from catching my first wave.

I was lucky enough to be taught by two time world longboard champion Kai Sallas on the island of Oahu, in Waikiki. To be taught by such an educated surfer was an experience that will forever stick with me. After meeting Kai, I started to dive a bit deeper into the sport. Since then, I’ve been so intrigued with surfing and the different styles and competitions around the world. It is a dream of mine to continue to surf throughout my life at some of the most exotic locations around the world. 

Many people know of surfing, but not many people know how the competitive sport actually works.  Surf competitions all work more or less the same way, whether it is an international or national event. Basically, there are two heats that a surfer needs to pass to get on to the next round. A heat consists of 2-4 surfers at the same time in a predetermined competition zone. Surfers have between 20-30 (time is determined by level of competition) to catch the best wave possible. Every wave each surfer catches is rated on a ten point scale by a panel of judges. Only the two best waves out of every wave caught is counted, so they end up getting a score out of 20. So, if a surfer got a 20/20 in a comp, it would mean they had two perfect waves, which is extremely uncommon.

The wave scoring is done with five quality levels in mind: 0-1.9 (poor), 2-3.9 (fair), 4-5.9 (average), 6-7.9 (good), 8-10 (excellent).  The judges evaluate commitment and degree of difficulty, innovative and progressive maneuvers, combination and major maneuvers, variety of maneuvers, and speed, power, and flow. The main surf competitions are organized by the World Surf League (WSL). There are two main circuits: the World Qualifying Series (WQS) which is where the majority of the best pro surfers compete. Their goal is to make the most points possible to qualify for the elite circuit, the World Championship Tour (WCT). The WCT is the highest level circuit. Some of the best surfers compete in the WCT, like Kelly Slater, Julian Wilson, Filipe Toledo, and so many more.

I actually got a chance to interview the pro surfer I mentioned earlier in this article.

Kai Sallas was the 2023 WSL World Longboard Champion, and the ISA World Longboard Champion. He owns his own brand of longboards, and a pro surf school in Hawaii, where I actually learned to surf.

I asked Kai a few questions about what got him into surfing, and what he loves most about the sport. Kai said, “My dad got me into surfing, he was a surf instructor and a beach boy so he taught me how to surf from a young age. I grew up two blocks away from Waikiki Beach, so it was easy for me to just go down there and SURF all the time. I love the freedom of surfing. It’s an activity that you can do in the ocean, and I love the ocean. It doesn’t have a set of rules that you have to follow or teammates that you have to rely on. It’s just you and the waves, and you can go out there and do your own thing.” 

It caught me by surprise that Kai actually responded to my message. It was an honor to be able to have a small conversation with the world champ. It was really cool to just see that he was a guy just like me who had a passion for a sport and ran with it.

He said that he really appreciated my support and encouraged me to catch more waves throughout my life. It was just a crazy experience for me, and I was so glad that I could talk to him about surfing and what got him into the sport.


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About the Contributor
Eddie Durrwachter
Eddie Durrwachter, Journalist
Grade: Senior Hobbies: Golf Favorite Holiday: Halloween Favorite Superhero: Spider-man Favorite Season: Fall