What Does Wipe Out Mean In Surfing?

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Surfing is one of the most exhilarating water sports loved by people around the world. It is not just a fun activity but an ultimate escape from the mundane daily routine. Surfing can be quite challenging for beginners as it demands patience, focus, and balance. When it comes to the nomenclature of surfing, one of the most commonly heard terms is “wipe out”. So, what does wipe out mean in surfing?

Wipe out in surfing refers to a fall or a wipeout where a surfer loses balance and falls off the surfboard while attempting to ride a wave. Wipeouts can be quite dramatic and thrilling and often lead to a surfer getting pummeled in the water. Even experienced surfers are not immune to the occasional wipeout, and it remains one of the most entertaining and exciting moments in surfing.

In this article, we will explore what wipe out means in surfing, its various types, and some tips on how to avoid wipeouts.


What Does Wipe Out Mean in Surfing?

Wipe out in surfing means a fall or a crash while attempting to surf a wave. The term wipeout can also refer to the crashing of waves onto the shore and its resultant foam and spray. Wipeouts can be quite serious and dangerous, and surfers can get injured or drown if they are not careful.

Wipeouts are an inevitable part of surfing, especially when you’re starting. Even experienced surfers wipe out occasionally. As a result, it is important to approach each wipeout with humility and patience, as it is an opportunity to learn and improve.

As a beginner, you may fall and have a wipeout quite often, but as you become more experienced, you learn to stay on the board for longer periods, minimize the frequency of wipeouts, and experience the exhilarating feel of catching and surfing a wave.


Types of Wipe Outs in Surfing

Wipeouts come in different types, and their severity depends on the size and power of the wave, position of the surfer on the board, and the angle and height of the drop. Here are some of the common types of wipeouts in surfing:

1. Bails

A bail is a type of wipeout where a surfer intentionally jumps off the surfboard before the wave breaks. Surfers mostly bail out when the wave is too big or when they are not confident about riding the wave. This is the safest type of wipeout as it doesn’t involve the surfer getting dragged under the water or the board hitting them.

2. The Cartwheel

The Cartwheel is a common type of wipeout where the surfer falls backward or forward and the board rotates like a cartwheel. This happens when the surfer doesn’t get enough speed before the wave breaks or doesn’t lean well enough into the wave’s force.

3. The Wombat

The Wombat is a type of wipeout where the surfer falls off the board, and the board keeps surfing towards the shore without them. The surfer then has to swim back and retrieve the board, and it often happens when the board hits a bump and loses control.

4. The Over-The-Falls Wipeout

The Over-The-Falls wipeout is a dangerous wipeout where the surfer is towed over the edge of the wave and falls into the water, risking hitting the board or getting dragged under the water. This wipeout often happens when the surfer is in front of the wave and can’t get out of the way before it breaks.

5. The Yard Sale

The Yard Sale is an epic wipeout that happens when the surfer gets wiped out and the surfboard flies out of control in the water. This can happen when the leash attached to the surfer’s ankle snaps, and the board goes wild.


Tips to Avoid Wipeouts in Surfing

Wipeouts are an inevitable part of surfing, but there are ways to minimize their frequency. Here are some tips that novice and experienced surfers can use to avoid wipeouts:

1. Train and Work on Your Balance

One of the primary reasons for wipeouts is a lack of balance. That’s why it is essential to train your balance and work on your core strength. You can do this by practicing yoga, balancing exercises, and building strength in your core and legs. The more you improve your balance, the less likely you are to wipe out frequently.

2. Choose the Right Waves

It’s essential to choose the right waves that match your skill level and strength. Don’t rush into large waves that are beyond your current capabilities, as this increases the likelihood of wiping out. Instead, start with smaller waves and work your way up as you gain more experience and confidence.

3. Use a Leash

A leash is an essential piece of equipment that helps the surfer stay connected to the board and reduces the risk of getting separated from it. A leash keeps the board close, making it easier to retrieve and reducing the chances of it hitting other surfers.

4. Stay in the Right Position

Positioning yourself correctly on the board is crucial to avoid wipeouts. Make sure you paddle with enough speed and that your stance is wide and stable. If you’re too far on the front of the board, you risk getting tossed off during a wipeout.

5. Keep Your Eyes on the Waves

Keeping your eyes on the waves helps you anticipate the movements, speed, and strength of the wave, allowing you to adjust your positioning and balance accordingly. Always keep in mind that waves are unpredictable, and keeping your eyes on them can help you avoid wipeouts.



In conclusion, wipeout in surfing refers to a fall or a crash while attempting to surf a wave. It is an inevitable part of surfing, and even experienced surfers suffer occasional wipeouts. Aspiring surfers, however, can minimize wipeouts by working on their balance and strength, choosing the right waves, using a leash, staying in the right position, and keeping their eyes on the waves. Wipeouts can be quite dangerous, but with proper preparation and patience, you can keep wipeouts to a minimum and enjoy the exhilarating experience of surfing.

Josh Mitchell

Josh Mitchell

"I live and breath boardriding"

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