Late Drop

Surf more of the waves you love.


Some notes on wave size

January 15th 2019

Late Drop's main aim is to help you to surf more of the waves that you love. The main part of this basically means "waves of the size that you want to surf". Maybe you're not interested in knee high waves, or maybe you feel uncomfortable in anything above, say, shoulder high. There are no rules here, and everyone knows what they enjoy, and what they feel comfortable amongst (not to mention where they feel that they're not endangering themselves or others).

So, to help more people to surf in more of the waves that they love, I built Late Drop. When you sign up we just ask for your preferred/local beach (so that we can tailor your forecast to your local spot) and your preferred wave size. What could be simpler?

Except, amongst all of the things that we humans find to disagree with each other about, one of the favourites amongst surfers is that subject of measuring surf/wave sizes. For a start, we can't even agree on a unit of measurement - sometimes we measure in feet, sometimes in metres, sometimes in body parts (knee high, shoulder high etc.). I personify this perfectly as I can switch betewen all three in less than an hour - I find I tend to work in metres for swell sizes, feet for "session" wave heights, and that wonderful unit of "body parts" for individual waves in a session!

Assuming we can agree on a unit of measurement (at least for a few minutes), then next we have to agree on what we're actually measuring. Some measure the wave from behind. Some from in front. Some are referring to the swell size. Some are talking about the breaking wave size. You get the picture - and as a surfer, I know you know what I'm talking about.

So, back to Late Drop. I created the original version about 10 years ago, and it was my own private little tool. As a result, it was all nice and simple. It only had to cover a few beaches (the ones I personally surfed), and the units and terms used were those that I understood. But, when I made the decision to develop the tool for public consumption, I was immediately hit with a little quandary - how do I match people up with their waves sizes, if I don't know how they measure wave sizes?!

After much thought, discussion, market research, and beer, I realised I just had to make a decision, explain it, and get forecasting. So that's what I've done.

Decision

Forecasts will use the imperial unit of FEET.

And the wave size we're talking about is the FACE OF THE [FRONT OF] THE WAVE, from TROUGH to PEAK.

To help when you sign up, I've include the "body part" measurement next to the size in feet (e.g. 3ft = Waist High).

Examples

Examples usually help us to understand each other better, so let's try that here. Let's assume that the following surfers are all around 6ft tall..

Example 1

Wave Height Example Photo 1
  1. The top (peak) of the wave is roughly level with the surfer's knee - so let's call that about 2ft
  2. The surfer's board/feet are not at the bottom (trough) of the wave (i.e. the "normal" sea level, or, "the flats") - it looks like there's about another 1ft of wave below the surfer
That's 2ft + 1ft = 3ft

Late Drop would call this wave 3ft

Example 2

Wave Height Example Photo 2
  1. In this example, it looks like the surfer has the knees and hips bent, but the top (peak) of the wave is roughly level with their waist-chest - so that would be about 2-3ft
  2. The surfer's board/feet are not quite at the bottom (trough) of the wave (i.e. the "normal" sea level) - let's say there's about another 1ft of wave below the surfer
That's 2-3ft + 1ft = 3-4ft

Late Drop would call this wave 3-4ft

Example 3

Wave Height Example Photo 3
  1. This surfer doesn't have the body compressed too much, but does have quite a lean on - so let's say that's about 4-5ft
  2. The surfer's board/feet are pretty much at the bottom (trough) of the wave - so something like 0-1ft to add on there
  3. The top (peak) of the wave is above the surfer's head - so let's say there's another 1ft of wave above the surfer
That's 4-5ft + 0-1ft + 1ft = 5-7ft

Late Drop would call this wave 5-7ft

Example 4

Wave Height Example Photo 4
  1. In this last example, once again, the surfer is not very compressed (remember, standing straight would be 6ft) - so let's say that's about 5ft
  2. The surfer's board/feet are not quite at the bottom (trough) of the wave (i.e. the "normal" sea level) - there's about another 1ft of wave below the surfer
  3. The top (peak) of the wave is slightly above the surfer's head - there's something like another 1ft of wave above the surfer
That's 5ft + 1ft + 1ft = 7ft

Late Drop would call this wave 7ft



What do you think?

I'm all ears. Once you've signed up and used Late Drop for a short while, drop me a line and let me know what you think, and tell me what you want. I cannot promise to accomodate all requests, but I do promise to give serious thought to whatever you tell me.

And of course, you can change your preferred wave height at any time and we'll start looking for the new height for you!


You can sign up right now - it takes less than a minute and you can start receiving your personalised surf forecasts tomorrow!