We all know the primary purpose of a surfboard. We’ve seen the biggest waves ever surfed, the craziest surfing wipeouts and even some sweet tricks, like Torkos Zoltan kick flipping on a surfboard.
If the high-powered sport of surfing isn’t exactly on your radar, however, have no fear. A surfboard can be the vehicle for many other adventures on the water.
Here are five different ways to use a surfboard.
Obviously, first things first: you can use a surfboard to surf. For years, surfing has played an emblematic role in American culture, representing a certain type of individual: cool, relaxed, casual, in touch with nature and always seeking the Perfect Wave.
Surfing is now a symbol as much as it is a real sport, but the sport itself is still pretty remarkable, requiring its practitioners to do battle with one of the most beautiful and dangerous aspects of the natural Earth: the ocean.
Conquering waves that are many times larger than you are poses all sorts of different dangers and maneuvering a surfboard successfully requires serious strength and skill. Surfers swear by their sport — and it will never stop fascinating the public.
Stand-up paddleboarding is less about conquering waves and more about using your physical strength to get from place to place on your surfboard, using a large oar to make your way.
The greatest challenge here is balance; though surfboards are broad and solid things, much of their stability requires the momentum that surfers get when they ride a wave back to shore.
That’s why you see surfers paddling out on their bellies before eventually standing up to ride the wave. Paddleboarding is mainly designed for the open ocean, particularly in areas between islands and other coastal pieces of land, and as the guys in the video above show, it can still involves tricks and surfer-like use of swells and waves.
Kneeling or Prone Paddleboarding
The traditional way to paddleboard involves lying prone or kneeling on the surfboard and paddling with your hands. This method creates an entirely different dynamic on the board; with the weight and gravity centered much lower, more aggressive turning and maneuvering is possible.
This doesn’t make it any less difficult — there’s still that whole issue of the waves to contend with — but it does make the activity a little less extreme and complex than stand-up paddleboarding.
The popular idea of surfing involves riding waves crashing toward shore, and by the strict definition of what surfing is, this is the primary method. But surfers can take advantage of currents in other ways and in other places besides the ocean.
The Australian lake featured above is opened every so often to prevent flooding in the nearby towns. When that happens, it creates a rushing current that allows for a sort of surfing while remaining in one place — what you could call “stationary surfing.”
The current is so intense that they’re actually able to stand up and cut back and forth in the froth while remaining upright, just like they might while riding a wave.
Most surfing is a fairly local activity: you go out away from the shore and then you come back into the shore. This doesn’t have to be the case, however. There’s paddleboarding, where you can take yourself farther out, or traveling.
If you travel downriver, you can take advantage of the flow and movement of the water to maneuver your board.
Here, these guys surf the Amazon, one of the biggest rivers in the world, and they’re able to do so because of the way the river opens and closes, creating powerful currents. Unlike regular surfing, these guys are actually going from one place to another.