Surfing has been around for hundreds of years and traces its history to Polynesia around the 12th century. While the mechanics of the sport have pretty much stayed the same, technology has not left surfing behind. From safety to predicting the best time to head out into the water, technology has changed the way that we surf.
Surf culture is something that shaped many people, and the technology to capture its history has been a big part of it. The development of better cameras and videos has led to the documentation of some of the greatest successes in the sport. It has also allowed a proliferation of pet surfing videos throughout the internet.
As we have moved into the 21st century, the technological advancements we see around us have been spreading into various sports industries, and surfing has not been exempt. The use of wearable technology has allowed us to learn more about the local environment, predicting the best time and place to head out into the water. It is also being used to help surfers train better.
As wearable technology goes, there has already been a strong impact. From tracking health and wellbeing, it has expanded to address the safety concerns of surfers. To make surfing safer, the company Modom has invented a new shark-repelling leg leash that can help keep surfers safer while in the water. Other companies are developing technology that attaches to the bottom of your surfboard, emitting a magnetic radio wave that will deter the magnetically hunting predators.
These technologies may not deter a great white if he decides you look too much like a seal, but it can deter the somewhat smaller dangers that tend to lurk around the shore. Multiple areas of academia and development have changed surfing in both subtle and not so subtle ways. Research has found, for example, that sharks avoid eating striped animals, which has influenced surfboard designs.
By applying this research to design, companies have begun to include stripes on the underside of their surfboards, further increasing the safety of surfers. As research on animals, environments continues, and as the internet of things expands, the mutual effect is extreme. This has taken surfing out of the coastline and made it accessible to anyone, regardless of if they live near the ocean.
In any sport, one of the major focuses of technology is improving the athlete’s ability to train. Whether it is bio-statistics, body mechanics, or monitoring blood flow and using highspeed cameras to track minute body movements, athletes across the world have access to more in-depth, tailored training routines. And once again, surfing is no exception.
The use of wave pools for training and accessibility of the sport has made surfing accessible even to those who don’t live near a shore. This also means that surfers with access to one of these pools can train regardless of weather or time of day. This is especially important as something that was once viewed as a laid-back hobby has turned into an intense, physically demanding sport.
With this evolution into a competitive sport, medical science is racing forward. From evaluating the level of water intake for surfers during competitions performed under extreme conditions to measuring cognitive response and physiological evaluations, specialized training tools are making it possible for surfers to take hold of as many factors of their performance as possible. In addition to training, these technologies are also making the sport more inclusive.
With the growth in popularity, surfing has also responded with its technology to seek out those who would previously have been left behind. Adaptive surfing involves specialized prosthetics and apparatus for surfers with disabilities to be able to get into the water. Whether helping a lifelong lover of surfing recover after a life-altering experience or introducing someone to surfing for the first time, adaptive surfing has seen a surge in popularity, driving technology forward for those with disabilities.
This is an area that doesn’t just affect the hardcore surfers but also the hobbyists and wave lovers who go out to the beach for the weekend. People get more than just their children into the sport. Pet surfing, and animal surfing in general, has not only become popular but has expanded past just the family dog. Now we see goats, sheep, and even pigs taking to the waves with their owners to experience the water. A variety of changes are being seen throughout sports, from the use of technology to keep competitors safe from natural predators to bridging the pay gap between male and female athletes. Insurance policies are even available for your pets, to help make sure that everyone is cared for. As technology develops alongside surfing, we can expect to see higher-performing athletes and greater inclusion.