Beginner Surf Gear

What is Wave Period?

Wave period is an important factor to consider when surfing. It determines how long the wave will last, and how much time you have to ride it. In this article, we will discuss what wave period is, and some of the factors that affect it. We will also provide some tips on how to surf waves with a longer period.

Wave Period Definition

Wave period is the time it takes for two successive wave crests to reach a known point. Understanding this might help you better comprehend surf forecasts.

wave period definition

Why is the Wave Period Important?

The longer the wave period, the more time there is for the wave to build up energy and speed up. This implies that the wave will have a greater chance of dealing with local winds and currents. This can make it difficult to detect big-period waves with the naked eye, but they generally indicate improved waves are on their way.

If you’re just starting out, it’s best to wait for waves with a wave period of at least eight seconds. This will give you enough time to paddle into the wave and get on your board before it starts to break. If you’re an experienced surfer, you might be able to ride waves with periods as short 6 seconds, but anything shorter than this, and you’ll really be struggling.

What do the Different Wave Periods Mean?

When you examine a surfing forecast, you’ll see a number (in seconds) for the wave period. We’ve compiled a handy little table to assist you!

Wave PeriodWhat this means
1-5 secondsInferior surf conditions and weak waves. The water will look choppy, and you’ll struggle to pick off decent waves
6-8 secondsAverage surfing conditions with the possibility of offshore winds ameliorating the wave quality.
8-10 secondsGood surfing conditions. You’ll be able to have fun rides with this wave period.
10-12 secondsVery good surfing conditions. The waves generated will lead for a great surf session.
13+ secondsSublime conditions. These waves will be memorable, so grab your board and head for the beach!

The Science Behind Wave Cycles

Before you can simply and quickly decipher the surfing forecast, you must first understand more about wave periods. Groundswell waves are caused by distant winds offshore, whereas wind swell waves are produced by local winds near to the surf spot.

Groundswell waves are usually preferable for surfing since they have had more time to build up energy and so tend to break cleaner. Wind swell waves are considerably choppier and more difficult to surf.

What Does This Have to do With ‘Wave Periods’?

The term “wave period” refers to the duration of each wave. Simply put, the larger a wave’s period, the better it is. The bigger a wave’s period, the better it is. Local winds produce waves with shorter periods; as a result of this, they are frequently wind swell waves. Waves with greater wave periods are generated farther offshore and have a better chance of being groundswell waves.

Now that you understand wave periods, you can begin to understand the different types of wave cycles! The wave period is affected by both wind speed and fetch. Fetch is the distance over which the wind blows without interruption. The longer the fetch, the more time the waves have to grow, and the bigger they become.

Wave periods are essential in helping you determine whether the waves will be good for surfing or not. So next time you’re looking at a surf report remember to pay close attention to the wave period.

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