Surfing is one of the hardest sports to learn in the world, so just how do surfers stay on their board?. Because of the balance that is needed to stay on the board while it is bouncing around from the violent turbulence of the waves around you. There are a number of different reasons that surfers use to stay on their boards, some being basic and straightforward while others might intrigue you.

Surfers stay on their boards due to the basic law of gravity. While the surfboard is floating on top of water the surfer is applying pressure to stay connected to the board. Surfers also use wax which gives them some extra grip and ensures a surfer’s feet will not slip when standing up on a wave.

How Do Surfers Not Lose Their Board?

You might be asking yourself how do surfers not lose their boards? Surfers use a piece of equipment called a leash. A leash is a cord that connects the surfer to their surfboard to stop them from losing their board when it leaves their feet during a wipeout. A leash is one of the most important pieces of equipment as it keeps the lineup safe and minimises the chances of drowning. A leash will help a surfer to not lose their board but won’t help a surfer stay on their board.

Does A Surf Stance Affect How Surfers Stay On Their Boards?

Surfing is similar to most board sports. Your feet need to be centered to maintain equal balance when doing maneuvers. Surfers need to make sure that their stance is perfectly run over the centre of the stringer in order to stay on their boards. If a surfers stance is slightly off this will result in a wipeout to the side that was unbalanced. So where exactly do experts tend to stand at the board? Most experienced surfers use the stringer as a guide to be perfectly centered along the length of the surfboard. Almost every different board has a sweet spot that surfers need to experiment with to feel completely comfortable.

If you are new to surfing you will have to find out if you are goofy or regular footed. Just like most board sports the rider will either ride right foot forward also known as goofy footed, or left foot forward known as regular footed. If you don’t know which stance you use, it’s usually your strongest foot at the back (kicking foot). However this is a rule of thumb and in some cases it can be different. Generally your footing will be the same across the different board sports so jump on a skateboard and identify in what stance you feel most comfortable.

How Does Wax Ensure A Surfer’s Feet Stay On The Board?

You might have wondered what do surfers rub on their board? The answer is a very sticky block of surf wax. Surfboards are generally made up of fiberglass which is very slippery especially when wet. Wax is there to make the surface of the board more tacky and rough which allows a surfer’s feet to stay on the board via traction. Overtime wax can start to wear out, surfers then have the option to re-wax the board, use a wax comb to roughen up the remaining wax, or to apply a traction pad which is a surf accessory that replaces wax. Many surfers prefer the feeling of wax but it usually comes down to personal preference. 

How To Wax A Surfboard?

Surfboard wax is one of the most important factors for surfers looking at progressing and doing advanced maneuvers. Everything from cutbacks, vertical turns, barrels and aerials require sufficient wax. Before waxing a board it’s important to note that you have the right type of wax for your conditions. Wax is temperature dependent so you will need to make sure you have cold water wax or warm water surf wax depending on where you will be surfing. 

When starting the waxing process most surfers will use a base coat (slightly harder) type of wax that will grip the board and last a little longer. Once the base coat is on your board you can start using a top coat which has a bit more of a sticky texture. This is where you can get creative, many surfers use different techniques when applying the top coat. Some prefer circles and others use horizontal lines. The top coat will wear off fairly quickly so keep in mind that you will have to re-wax your surfboard every few surfs.

How Often Should I Re-Wax A Surfboard?

Generally surfers re-wax a surfboard every 2 to 3 sessions. This allows for the top layer of wax to stay sticky and rough enough for your feet to find grip when standing up during the session. Some surfers prefer waxing their board before every session just to be completely confident that their wax will give them the traction that they need, while other surfers can go weeks even months without adding a new layer of wax. Most of the time surfers in booties will need to re-wax more often because the booties do offer some added traction.

Is It Bad To Leave Wax On Your Surfboard?

There is no reason you can’t leave wax on your surfboard. The main reason surfers take their wax off their boards are for reasons like aesthetics, change of water temperatures or repairs. Most surfers generally re-wax their boards every month but this also depends on the amount of surfing you do. If there is no real reason to take wax off your board then it is not a necessity, however if you want your board to look good then it’s best to make sure you give it a clean when you have some extra time on your hands.

How Can Surfers Jump Without Losing Their Board?


So we have covered how gravity, wax, balance and stance allows surfers to stay on their board. Now how do surfers do aerial maneuvers without losing their board? The answer is momentum. Surfers generate ramp up on a specific area on the wave which forces momentum to lend a helping hand in keeping the board connected to the surfers feet. 


Just like other sports, surfing has a list of grab tricks mainly associated with aerial maneuvers. The main reason a surfer will grab the board is so that they can jump without losing their board. You often see professional surfers use grabs when the conditions become a bit harder for aerials as this ensures the surfers feet stay on the board.

 Thanks For Taking The Time To Read Our Article

Feel free to contact us if you would like any more information regarding “How do surfers stay on their board” or How to wax a surfboard. We are a local surf school in Cape Town ready to help you progress in surfing.