Brush Strokes: The Classics

In classic art, the Ocean is frequently featured as a dark and dangerous entity, waiting to destroy ships and lives. Marine art progressed along with the evolution of ocean going vessels. Swell-producing tempests and shorebreak mayhem, smashing boats to pieces are common subjects of classic seascapes. In many examples, classic artists painted waves with illuminated skill and menacing detail. In this gallery, we’ll take at look at waves in historical fine art.

The coast and waves are a common theme of Japanese painters and printmakers throughout the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.

The most famous depiction of waves in art history is Hokusai’s “The Great Wave off Kanagawa.” “The Great Wave” is first in Hokusai’s series entitled “Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji,” produced in the ukiyo-e style of woodblock print making. The artist portrays an iconic and beautiful peak about to smash a fleet of fishing boats…or do they quickly turn their boats and ride the wave safely to shore? Maybe a few of the fishermen jump out and bodysurf the wave to safety…

"The Great Wave off Kanagawa"- Katsushika Hokusai 1829
“The Great Wave off Kanagawa”- Katsushika Hokusai 1829
The Sea off Satta- Utagawa Hiroshige 1859
“The Sea off Satta”- Utagawa Hiroshige 1859
Wreck of the King Philip- Gideon Jacques Denny 1878
“Wreck of the King Philip”- Gideon Jacques Denny 1878
"La Vague"- Gustave Courbet 1870
“La Vague”- Gustave Courbet 1870
"Seascape"- Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1879
“Seascape”- Pierre-Auguste Renoir 1879
"Pourville, Flood Tide"- Claude Monet 1882
“Pourville, Flood Tide”- Claude Monet 1882
The Seashore- Leon Dabo 1900
“The Seashore”- Leon Dabo 1900

Albert Bierstadt (1830-1902) is best known for his dramatic landscape paintings of the frontier Western United States. But as seen here, he beautifully captured breaking waves and the power of the sea.

The Wave- Albert Bierstadt 1880
“The Wave”- Albert Bierstadt 1880

Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky (1817-1900) was a Russian Romantic painter best known for his marine art.

"Ninth Wave"- Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky 1850
“Ninth Wave”- Ivan Konstantinovich Aivazovsky 1850

Winslow Homer (1836-1910) was an American landscape painter, known for his seascapes. 


Famous Seascape Paintings
Japanese Wave Paintings

Albert Bierstadt

One Less Stroke

The entry to a wave is the fundamental driver to wave riding experience. A smooth and precise ingress is a clear indicator of a good wave to come and a skilled rider. There are a number of ways to duff your take off. You could set your lead hand in the wrong direction taking your momentum straight down the face or off of the wave face entirely. Some bodysurfers don’t kick hard enough or don’t hold a straight enough torso. All errors which could shut down a long ride before it began, but the most prevalent miscalculation I see in bodysurfing entry is the “one extra stroke” fallacy.

The bodysurfer is in the spot ready to take the drop and thinks I need more speed. The bodysurfer may decide to take one or two more swim strokes, but I would posit this to be the worst course of action. The main reason this works against the bodysurfer is timing. In those precise moments as your body is collected skyward by the wave’s energy all of your momentum should be moving in the direction you want your body to go. Taking another swim stroke acts against that momentum. When swimming on a horizontal plane, your swimming arms exit the water while moving forward and enter the water to pull against the water’s resistance to move your body forward. You are also twisting your torso to maintain momentum. This action is not compatible with swimming down a wave face.

The twist of your torso on a flat surface doesn’t create resistance, but when on a tilted plane of water your torso will block the flow of water under your body and therefore slow down your progression. This is also the reason why you don’t see bodysurfers swimming with their arms while riding waves. The two are incompatible.

Instead of going for the extra swim stroke, I would suggest bodysurfers focus on maintaining or gaining momentum by “getting long” and kicking like hell. Getting long is a reference to extending the forward planing hand in the direction they wish to go. As covered in previous articles, getting the forward planing hand out on the water and extending the body into a straight and flat surface we are able to maximize our movement over/in water. The second focus requires little explanation. Kicking like hell could mean big powerful strokes or short quick burst strokes, but either way you are adding speed to your person. It is important to note that a kick is more efficient in this position because both the up and down strokes add velocity to the bodysurfer. Doing both simultaneously is key because if you’re just kicking like hell, but your body is not acting as an efficient rudder you’ll make little progress.

Ultimately, if you’re having fun, then you’re doing it right. But for those looking to be a more efficient wave-riding hominid I suggest trying these tips out. If you’re still finding the entry difficult you may need to practice swimming to the spot. Either way, it’s never a bad time in the Ocean.


It’s Always Been About the Toob

It was the summer of 2001, heading into my 2nd year of college, I rented a surfboard on a family vacation to the Jersey Shore. It was raining and the waves were ankle high. I definitely did not successfully ride a wave, but it didn’t matter. I was hooked. I wanted more.

Cory Lopez- Teahupoo 1999. I had this on my wall soon after riding my first wave. Photo: Tom Servais
Cory Lopez- Teahupoo 1999. I had this on my wall soon after riding my first wave. Photo: Tom Servais

Back in Ohio, I used the growing Internet to learn more about waveriding. Watching short clips and seeing hundreds of photos, one thing stood out immediately above all else. I didn’t care about tail-flick turns or the progression of aerial surfing. I was instantaneously fascinated by hollow waves. I stared at empty barrels and endlessly watched clips of Pipeline and Teahupoo. I would sit and think about the sensations that a surfer must experience inside.

As a beginner surfer, I quickly became aware of the difficulties in tube riding. After college, I moved to the Outer Banks of North Carolina and spent a couple years going over the falls on the hollow beachbreak waves without any success. But I was never deterred from my love of the barrel. I would sometimes stand on the sand and jump into shorebreak barrels without even knowing that bodysurfing was a thing.

My first toob photo- OBX 2005.
My first toob photo- OBX.

I then moved to San Diego and slowly became a better surfer but tube time continued to elude me. A good buddy would sometimes bring fins to the beach and occasionally bodysurf in between surf sessions. It looked like fun, so I bought fins and…WOW! A whole new world opened up and I mean literally opened up. Instead of surfing the soft, rolling reefs around Encinitas, I started swimming around local beachbreaks. My tube time started multiplying exponentially. It was all I really ever wanted from waveriding. Bodysurfing provides it and so much more.
-KSKyle Under Blue

Cylinder 20x16 canvas

Strange Designs: Swim Fin Artistry

Fin design is an art with over a hundred years of documented history. In this visual article we will take a look at some of the more out there ideas that never made it into mainstream consumption.


US783012-0-1Our first entry is also the earliest. This patent, filed by Adolf Biedermann and Jak Howald, is from 1903. It is essentially a sandal with a collapsible flap designed to aid swimmers in all the strokes of swimming.




US3407419-0The next unique design comes from Charles Drummond in 1967. He took the collapsible flaps to a whole new level. It seems very likely that the more complex these designs became, the less functional they would be in the Ocean.




US5161309-3The Predator Defense Swim fin is the most aptly named and aggressive fin design we found. David Graves created this device so that swimmers could protect themselves from sharks. This might not be the best call for bodysurfers as we tend to get tossed around and would end up slicing our own Achilles tendons.

US06341993-20020129-D00000Above you see the patent art from the first motorized swim fin we found. William Lalli Jr. designed these devices to blend modern propulsion devices with modern swim fin design. It is hard to imagine how much propulsion could be created, but it would be worth a fun time taking them for the test swim.


US1607857-0Do you hate taking off your shoes to go for a swim? Frank Zakul has you covered. In 1926 he created the swim fin for shoe wearers. Like many other swim fins to be developed in the following years, the fin is designed to be collapsed on the upstroke and spread out on the down. I imagine the prototype of Zakul’s making to be covered in dust in the attic of one of his decedents just waiting for re-discovery.

My Name Is Alice and My Mom Is My Wonderland

By Alice Latuf

I don’t remember a moment in my life I wasn’t surprised by my mom, Briguitte Linn Wiedemeyer.

Since I was a little girl, I have this image of her as someone who could do anything if she wanted to. But the thing is, she does what she loves – and, thank god, it has everything to do with water.imagensA޺midas2016-6399

Her first contact with water was when she was 2 years old: she fell at the sailing club her family frequented and almost drowned. I don’t really understand why, but in the moment, she fell in love. Her family moved to Portugal and she went to beach all the time, and even though the North Atlantic is always freezing, her mother only could take her way from the ocean when her lips were blue.

When they moved back, she was 5 and my grandfather gave her a snorkel and a pair of fins. The sea became her playground, but she lived in a city without beaches. Every year during summer, they went to their beach house on vacation and she played in the waves for hours and hours.

She was a swimmer from age 14 until 24 and then she started to sail until age 31, always competing and traveling because of it. She always tells me one of her favorite trip to Japan in 1984.imagensA޺midas2016-6460

Since then, bodysurfing is her passion. Her life is all around it. She works so she can go on trips to surf with other people, meet new styles and learn how to be better.

We live in Garopaba, where she raised me. It’s a small city, famous for the good waves in Santa Catarina, Brazil. She has a gym, and the place is just amazing – with two swimming pools, both heated, one 25m and the other of 8m and a dancing room. She teaches kids and adults to swim, and everything is just lovely.

There aren’t any other bodysurfers around here, so it’s kinda hard to explain what we do – people are always closed to “new” things. Even though bodysurf is as old as surf itself. It is also nice, because as a small town, sometimes there is just us out there, the beach and the waves just for us.imagensA޺midas2016-6496

At the south of Brazil, we have all kinds of weather. The seasons are very different from each other. Sometimes the water is cold like in California. In summer it is hot as Costa Rica. Still, it is an amazing place.

I’m always grateful for my mother choosing this city to live. The waves are great. We are about ten minutes from our favorite beach, Silveira. The beaches are between hills. If the wind comes from the south, we are going to surf on the south side of the beach, protected from the wind.

The north side of Silveira is excellent for bodysurfing. When it’s big, there are a lot of tubes but the wave is really fast. In the south, the wave opens more and is slower so you can think more.

Briguitte loves the south, thank god – the north is all mine!

I’m amazed by everything my mother has done – but bodysurfing is what makes her the happiest. The way this sport makes people feel is out of this world. Thank you for sharing this love!