Surf lingo revisted: 1976 to 2019

Dude, did you see that slab?

Mini Simmons: A short twin fin modeled after the surfboards of 1950s board builder, Bob Simmons, who drowned near Windansea Beach.
  • Mini Simmons: A short twin fin modeled after the surfboards of 1950s board builder, Bob Simmons, who drowned near Windansea Beach.

When Jim Mullin wrote about “San Diego Surf Lingo” for the Reader in 1976, most surfers in our area were riding seven-foot single fin surfboards, smaller twin fin, Fishes, or the newly revived longboards. Progressive moves at the time were off-the-lips and roundhouse cutbacks while bottom turns, tube rides, and noserides were still in vogue.

A new surfboard cost about $125 and Gordon & Smith and Hansen were the largest surf manufacturers in town. International Professional Surfers (IPS) had just been launched, and Australia’s Peter Townend was its first professional world champion. There was no women’s tour until 1977, when San Diego native Margo Oberg won the title.

Surfing has changed dramatically in the past 43 years. New words were required to describe the evolution of the surfboards and the moves performed on them.

While some of Mullin’s terms like "dawn patrol,” “feathering,” “stoked,” and “gnarly” are still regularly spoken, others like “BSB” and “body flyaway” have fallen from common usage.

The following are part of a surfer’s language in 2019:

Carve: A hard turn

Snap: Radical direction change

Thruster: Three-finned surfboard

Mini Simmons: A short twin fin popularized by San Diego standout, Richard Kevin, and modeled after the surfboards of 1950s legendary board builder, Bob Simmons, who drowned near Windansea Beach

Shacked: To ride inside a breaking wave. AKA tubed, barreled or locked in

Slab: An extremely thick and powerful wave

Bomb: Big wave

Doggy Door: The exit point from a tubing wave

Pigdog: Backside rail grab, usually in the tube

Air/Aerial: A move borrowed from skateboarding where surfer and surfboard are launched above the wave. Aerials were in their infancy in the mid-70s and only made possible by use of smaller, lighter surfboards

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Comments

Thanks for the update Chris Ahrens. I'm now more hip than I was minutes ago. You've always been many's connection, mine included, to the surf world. I look forward to more of your surf stories in the Reader.

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