Since the early days of the sport, surfers have had their own language. In many cases, they’ve invented or repurposed existing words to describe waves and surf conditions. To the layman, many of these terms make absolutely no sense when taken out of context, but to any surfer, the words listed below have simple and specific meanings.
Here’s a quick reference guide for any of you who are confused and/or curious as to what the hell the dude is talking about when he says, “I thought it was pumping, but after watching a few sets roll in, I downgraded it to piping and eventually settled for nuggable.”
Pic source: vanstriplecrownofsurfing.com
Definition: A term for describing giant waves, mostly reserved for describing extra-large and quite rare swell events.
Example: “It was easily 50-foot throughout the morning at Jaws; even the locals get scared when it’s macking like that.”
Definition: Slightly smaller than macking, but very consistent and with ample amounts of power in the waves and swell.
Example: “Mate, I went down to Snapper Rocks and just after the cyclone the surf was pumping for 10 hours straight!”
Definition: Very, very good surf—maybe not huge, but really good shape and quality.
Example: “I got four tubes in the first half hour of that last session. It was absolutely firing out there.”
Definition: Small but perfect waves.
Example: “It was only 2- to 3-foot out there, but man, it was nugging at the pier today.”
Definition: Fair to above-average waves that might not be perfect, but still are a lot of fun.
Example: “I’m not gonna say it was all-time, but it was super rippable all morning. You should have gone surfing.”
Definition: Very small waves best suited for longboarding.
Example: “It’s only knee high, but totally loggable out there.”
Definition: Good waves that offer up plenty of opportunity for tube riding.
Example: “I knew it was piping out there when I got totally shacked on my first few waves.”
Definition: Big, powerful waves that have abusive tendencies.
Example: “I got pounded by three set waves in a row! Why didn’t you tell me it was throttling out there?!”
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Source: grindtv.com / Chris Cote