Someone comes in talking about the great ride they caught this morning, just as another person is complaining about a bunch of closeouts and mush burgers, but what does it all mean?
Lefts and Rights
A wave is usually either a Left or A Right depending on which direction the wave breaks from the point of view of a surfer paddling and riding the wave. Some waves can peak in the middle, then break both ways creating a left and a right.
If a surfer is paddling to catch the wave and it is breaking from right to left (the surfer will have to turn left to get into the wave) then this wave is a left. Viewing from the beach the wave will be seen breaking to the right – but the surfers point of view is the one that calls it. Rights works just the opposite.
A peak is a wave that breaks forming a ride-able wave left or right and sometimes both left and right, two surfers can surf it at the same time in different directions.
Sometimes waves won’t really have a peak. They will just form up and then dump over, forming useless or dangerous waves for surfing. They are called Closeouts.
Re-forms / Reformations
Sometimes the swell just isn’t big enough to form waves of the ocean floor. You might be looking into the distance and see a wave forming, then you get ready and start paddling, but it doesn’t really form a peak, then dies back down again without letting you catch a ride. This is called reforming. On many beach breaks there may be an inside break (closer to shore) and an outside break (farther out). Sometimes the waves can be ridden from the outside all the way in, but usually they will form on the outside, then reform and then form up again on the inside. This can be frustrating but sometimes it’s really nice because you can surf big sets on the outside and get off when the wave reforms and paddle out again without having to paddle through the inside section again.