UNWRITTEN RULES OF When surfing first made an appearance at Wrightsville Beach
around 1909, it was a spectacle, an oddity even. However, surf-ing
eventually became ingrained in the Cape Fear region’s culture
and its form experienced little deviation until the late ’60s when
competitive surfing was born. As technology set off a revolution in
surfboard production methods, and the economy supported more
recreational time, surfing experienced exponential growth.
Newly emerging wave-riding sports now draw upon the tra-ditional
surfing aesthetic but use intrinsically different forms
of apparatus, and they’re transforming what is defined as
On any given day, one may see everything from
kitesurfers, windsurfers and standup paddle surfers,
to surf kayakers and foil surfers traversing the field
of view, all vying for their own space in Wrightsville’s
wide-open aquatic playground. Many surfers have decided to
embrace these alternative crafts to help them survive the hot, flat
and windy summer doldrums.
Whether it’s using the windy afternoons to soar with a kite,
using a SUP when the conditions are small, or taking a hydrofoil
to the outer shoals when there’s a big rolling swell, there’s a host of
an incredibly fun ways to ride the ocean and wind’s energy when
normal surfing conditions are less than ideal.
Foil surfing, one of the newer wave riding modes, elevates the
rider above the swell below with the aid of a blade-like hydrofoil,
allowing them to ride a wave that’s not even breaking.
Former World Tour competitor, professional surfer Ben
Bourgeois found alternative crafts as a way to enjoy more water time.
“I saw a video of surf foiling and had to try it. It’s humbling. Foiling is tricky here
because there’s not a lot of room and you need space. And, the waves here break hard, close
to shore. You want more of a smooth swell that goes for a long distance. But you can ride
them behind boats and you can kite with them. We even rode them in Banks Channel dur-ing
a hurricane, which there’s no way to do that with a normal board.”
Though not always the first tenet of surfing culture, etiquette becomes a vital compo-nent.
Existing somewhat nebulously, etiquette usually maintains some semblance of order
amid chaotically crowded lineups, and surfers tend to self-regulate.
Traditionally, a surfer takes position to be at the deepest part of a cresting peak to main-tain
a priority takeoff onto a wave.
Standup paddle surfing, kitesurfing and foil surfing provide a substantial advantage in
positioning to catch waves, extending the ride, and can even link rides from wave to wave.
WBM july 2019