THE BIGGEST WAVE ON THE SET – SURF SCIENCE
«The waves we surf always travel in groups of seven and the seventh wave is the biggest of all». Truth or myth? We gut this phrase for you with a bit of surf science.
Surely you have heard that statement from your soul surfer friend or from the old sea lion that you found that time when you got out of the water almost at night. You have probably already noticed, and that phrase is one of the many urban myths of surfing. The waves do not come in groups of 7 and the biggest is not the last.
The truth is that you cannot predict the frequency of waves, since these They originate from the capricious action of the wind on the surface of the sea. And the wind, we already know, is produced by the difference in temperature on the earth's surface that generates air currents from the warmest places to the coldest places as a way of maintaining balance in our atmosphere. Once again we find that nature tends to neutral states and thanks to that, waves and surf exist (among many other things). If you want to know in more detail how the waves originate and be able to understand a surf forecast, click here.
Returning to the theme of the waves, although it is true that their origin is disordered and chaotic, once formed they tend to settle in traveling groups. Disorganized waves that travel thousands of kilometers across the ocean organize themselves into more or less predictable "packages" and the further that swell has traveled, the more predictable they are and the more likely the waves are to be long and laminated. What we call a “perfect day of surfing”.
Why then do people say they come in sets of seven? – Science of surfing
The Englishman Tony Butt, guru of the study of wave physics and surf science, has described that the waves that can be seen on a good day at the beach usually come in groups of 12 to 16 waves.
In these series, as often happens in group physics, the largest wave tends to be in the center of the group, crucial information for when you are sitting in the line up and you see a set of waves approaching on the horizon. The first wave in the group is very small, the next is larger, and so on until the largest is reached in the middle of the series. So if there are 14 waves on average in a series, the seventh wave is the biggest. They then grow smaller and smaller, finally returning to calm.
There would be the possible basis for the popular saying that the waves come in series of 7, by not taking into account the waves that are decreasing and only looking at those that are growing.
As a set of waves approaches on the horizon, a kind of dance begins in the line up between those who want to catch the biggest wave possible, those who want to get away from the wave and basically everyone else who doesn't know what to do. You already know, patience in the line-up, you already know a little surf science and that the biggest wave in the set will not be the first one but will be located normally in the center of the group and that the groups come in waves of 12 to 16 waves, in case you want to avoid it or take her.
With love, #AlwaysFree
Surf Science: Tony Butt.
Journal of physical oceanography.