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What are the different parts of a wave?

When it comes to surfing, it's essential to have an understanding of the different parts of the wave you may encounter on your surf trip. At ECW Surf Camp, our surf camp instructors have years of experience on the water and can help you navigate the waves. We strive to be your guide with every wave. If you know what to expect with each section of the wave, you'll have an easier time on the water and be able to make the most of your day on the water. Below is a breakdown of the various parts of the wave.

As the name suggests, the peak is the highest part of the wave. The peak is the first part of the wave that breaks. When you can identify this portion, it can help you see how the rest of the wave will play out, which helps you with your timing.

The lip is the uppermost portion of a wave break. The upper part of a wave that appears from above as the wave is breaking. The lip is where the wave's power and momentum are located.

Of the wave, the shoulder is the part of the wave, not broken yet. In this portion, surfers ride from the area that is breaking towards the unbroken section.

The curl is also known as the "pocket." It is the concave part of the shoulder that is generally very steep. In the curl, this part of the wave is similar to a skateboard ramp and where most surfers move the most.

In the impact zone, the wave crashes into the flat water. The impact zone is the most powerful and risky area if you are not an advanced surfer. If you are caught in this area, you are likely to wipe out.

The whitewater is the section of the wave that has already broken. When the wave breaks, it changes into a ridge of foam. Whitewater is the part of the wave where beginners learn the essentials of surfing.

The tube is the cylinder-like section of the wave when they break. This is where surfers can ride inside. It's also referred to as a barrel. Surfers aim to be able to ride inside the tube of the wave.


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