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Noseriding is the art of maneuvering the surfboard from the front end.
Noseriding is one of the most accomplished maneuvers in surfing. Some of the intricacies include, Hang ten toes, Hang five toes, Stretch-five, AKA Paul Strauch Cheater Five toes, Hang heels, Front Foot/heel hang, Back Foot/heel hang and are some of the high-point maneuvers in the repertoire of noseriding. Noseriding is a functional maneuver best performed on waves around head high or less in size, which are found most of the year. Noseriding is performed mainly on noserider style surfboards, which can be short or long in length.
"Noseriding wasn't identified as a maneuver unto itself until the early 1950s, after the surfboard fin had grown big enough to really anchor the tail." wrote Matt Warshaw in "The History of Surfing". According to most surfing historians, the fin was invented by Tom Blake around 1935, for the purpose of anchoring the tail and giving the surfboard direction from the tail to the tip. One of the first commercial surfboard manufacturers, Dale Vezy is credited as being the first to get to the nose to hang five and hang ten in the early 50s. Noseriding is widely considered the origin of "Extreme" surfing and had become such a popular trick by the late 50s that Surfer Magazine publisher John Severson devoted a regular feature, called "Toes on the Nose", starting with his debut issue of Surfer in 1960.
Mastering the noseride takes years to accomplish. Once achieved, the thrill of the moment gives the surfer the sensation that their feet are simply gliding on water and that they are defying gravity. Noseriding defined the surfers of the 50’s led by Rabbit Kakai, then Matt Kivlin and Joe Quigg. Then came the champion surfers of the 60s including Lance Carson, Phil Edwards, Dewey Weber, Mickey Munoz, Joey Cabell, Donald Takayama, Skip Frye, David Nuuhiwa, Gary Proper, Claude Codgen and Bob Purvey. Today's generation includes Joel Tudor, CJ Nelson and Chad Marshall, to name a few men. Women have proven to show such grace that their noseriding demonstrations have excited the sport once again. Current Toe-pointing women Association of Surfing Professional's World Tour champions include Kelia Moniz from Hawaii, Belinda Baggs from Australia, Chloe Calmon from Brazil and Kassia Meador from the USA.
Throughout the 50s and 60s, surfboard designers experimented with a variety of components to make the nose hold up longer and noserider surfboard designs became the hot sellers throughout the 60s. The combinations of template (outline shape), thickness, weight, rocker, rail shape, concaves, convexs, flats and fins vary with the individual surfer's style and size, and continue to be an experiment. To this day, noserider designs continue to be refined.
So far the knowledge bank has established certain principles: Concave under the nose creates an air pocket that helps the nose stay up longer; complimenting the concave nose is a kicked up tail that would catch water to keep the tail down. While an accomplished surfer can nose ride a narrow shortboard nose, a wide nose (about 18 inches to about 20 inches wide) is considered a better platform for stability and lift. Rail shape can significantly affect the maneuverability from the nose. Rail shapes vary from turned up rails, which are found in most of today's noseriders, to turned down rails. Turned-up rails allow the board to turn easier from the tip, while the turned-down rail forces the board to stay in a trim and limits the turning ability from the tip. Of course, placement of the turned up or turned down rail is important. Turned up rails work best around the nose, while turned down rails work best around the tail. How much turn-down or turn up is measured in percnetages, i.e., 70/30 means 70% down and 30% up. Lighter board weights enable the board to stay higher on the water, so it can travel faster and allow the board to respond quicker and a lighter board allows for a thinner board. Single fins are preferred, albeit, fin configurations have a wide open frontier, as are weights and thickness.
Noseriding is achieved mostly when the surfer positions themself and the board where the wave is formed into the most vertical wall, just before the wave breaks. "Point-Break" waves are ideal for noseriding because the wave travels from the point to the cove and gives the surfer a long ride where a "hook" is formed with the most vertical wall that travels down the line, like a zipper, from one end to the other. Immediately after the hook is the white water, where the wave implodes. It is best to avoid the white water but with a noserider surfboard, an accomplished surfer can ride through or maneuver around the imploding wave while remaining on the nose. One of the most difficult noseriding maneuvers is to get tubed while on the tip. It is not impossible to stay on the nose while out on the flat shoulder of the wave either. A noserider surfboard with a deep concave can carry a surfer on a wave that does not have a steep wall. Be prepared to back off the nose in this flat area of the wave because it has the least air traveling under the nose, so riding onto the flat of the wave while on the nose could cause the nose to suddenly dip into the water under the full weight of the surfer.
In 1965, Tom Morey (inventor of the "Morey-Boogie": body board) devised the first professional surf contest around timing nose rides. The "nose" area was defined as the front 25% of the board. While success at this sub-genre is grossly measured in proximity to the tip of the board and time spent there, the acknowledged artists move forward and backward fluidly on the board by cross-stepping or "walking" foot-over-foot and/or shuffling with poise and economy of movement, resolving changes in upward pressure with subtle adjustments to their center of gravity using knees, waist and hips (upper bodies ever quiet) and position on the board; never the arms waving.
Clearly, the challenge for most noseriders is to stay on the nose as long as possible. Maneuvering to stay in the hook can be accomplished by dragging the hand in the soup or face of the wave. Another is to stand upright, raise your arms together and cup your hands facing the wind to catch the wind, slowing the momentum down and back.
Know your surfboard measurements (length, widest point around the center, width 12 inches from the tail-end and width 12 inches from the nose-end, and thickness). Learn how the tail, center and nose work by feeling their response to you. It takes practice and conditioning to appreciate the feel and understand the timing.
Eventually you will noseride and then the world will be at your feet.