Following neatly on from our recent post on science in surfing, the enthusiastic gathering of data came to the world tour this week, when Quiksilver decided to fit GPS tracking devices inside all the surfer’s rash guards.
There were a few interesting observations to be made –
1. The distances being covered by the surfers were pretty huge. Joel Parkinson covered nearly 4km in 25 minutes. As a training/coaching tool, it would be great to be able to get in the water on a day when the surf is less than average and give yourself a target distance to cover.
2. The top speed achieved by Slater and Fanning was mid turn. Although they were carving (with their weight therefore at the back of the board) they were speeding up rather than slowing down. As anyone who has done a judging lesson with us will know, that’s the hallmark of surfing with flow in the critical part of the wave ( i.e. the board accelerates because of where on the wave you did the turn, rather than because you moved your weight forwards after completing the turn.)
3. It was interesting that Jeremy, the analyst, praised Joel for covering such a great distance then praised Kelly for doing exactly the opposite. What’s wrong with this picture? To know whose tactic was better we really need to know what distance Kelly would have covered had he been in Joel’s heat. In fact we would really need to know the distance Kelly would have covered had he surfed exactly the same waves, against the same people, holding the same scores, with the same time remaining. In other words we need to control the variables if we want to draw meaningful conclusions. That’s where the wave garden might become a great tool. With the data we do have, perhaps it would be more meaningful to know how far Kelly paddled as a ratio to how far he surfed and compare that to Joel.
So we still have a very long but brilliantly fascinating, road in front of us and an equally long list of coaching gadgets to buy for the Surf Simply Resort.