Science backs up the claim: The best waves are created by winds
STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:
Scientists who study waves have confirmed what surfers already know - the best waves are created by winds. Falk Feddersen is a professor at Scripps Institute of Oceanography at UC San Diego.
FALK FEDDERSEN: The wind doesn't just affect how much the wave tubes, but it also affects at what location the wave breaks and how much turbulence the wave generates.
LEILA FADEL, HOST:
Feddersen and his team of researchers wanted to know more about how that works, so they took a trip to the Kelly Slater Wave Company Surf Ranch. Yes, there really is a surf ranch on the central California coast.
FEDDERSEN: It's essentially - can be treated as a laboratory. We can control the waves but then the wind naturally varied.
INSKEEP: They found offshore winds make the best tube or barrel waves. You can picture them now - the top of the wave curving downward, maybe a surfer in there, looking tiny.
FEDDERSEN: Offshore wind is when the wind blows from land straight out to sea. Onshore wind is when wind blows from sea straight onto land.
FADEL: The researcher will help create wave models that can be used to predict and track coastal flooding and shore erosion.
INSKEEP: And if surfers should also get some clues from all this, they'll surely be stoked.
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC) Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.