Surfing is a surface water pastime in which the wave rider, referred to as a surfer, rides on the forward part, or face, of a moving wave, which usually carries the surfer towards the shore. Waves suitable for surfing are primarily found in the ocean, but can also be found in lakes or rivers in the form of a standing wave or tidal bore. However, surfers can also utilize artificial waves such as those from boat wakes and the waves created in artificial wave pools.
The termusually refers to the act of riding a wave using a board, regardless of the stance. There are several types of boards. The native peoples of the Pacific, for instance, surfed waves on Alaia, paipo, and other such craft, and did so on their belly and knees. The modern-day definition of surfing, however, most often refers to a surfer riding a wave standing on a surfboard; this is also referred to as stand-up surfing.
Another prominent form of surfing is body boarding, when a surfer rides the wave on a bodyboard, either lying on their belly, drop knee (one foot and one knee on the board), or sometimes even standing up on a bodyboard. Other types of surfing include knee boarding, surf matting (riding inflatable mats), and using foils. Body surf, where the wave is surfed without a board, using the surfer’s own body to catch and ride the wave, is very common and is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing. The closest form of body surfing using a board is a hardboard which normally has one strap over it to fit one hand in.
Three major subdivisions within stand-up surfing are stand-up paddling, longboarding and short boarding with several major differences including the board design and length, the riding style, and the kind of wave that is ridden.