Surfing vs. Plaining

Moore Play

Member
64
20
Hawaii
How do you separate surfing vs. plaining? Over here the ocean swell runs at approximately ~ 14 knots.  In blue water  you hear that number often. To me, if your boat speed/swell speed is similar, you are "surfing". When you start launching into the backs of waves in front of you, you are "getting on the step". My Moore definitely lights it up downwind, to the speed of the swell, even under reduced plain sail, but in flat water bursts up to wind speed are great and fun, but short lived... Where do you guys make the distinction??

 

Jethrow

Super Anarchist
For me, an ultra simplistic separation is that planing (not plaining ;) ) is solely achieved through hydrodynamic actions acting to lift the hull.

If there is any gravity component, ie a small wave, chop, bump or such, then it's surfing.

Surfing can often initiate planing but that to me is still surfing.

 
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Gissie

Super Anarchist
6,376
1,660
An 86ft power boat can plane with the big diesels cranked up.

The same boat can surf when just in gear and the waves are smashing into the aft doors. It stops surfing when the bow is deep enough in the back of the wave in front...

 

LionessRacing

Super Anarchist
4,284
556
Myrtle Beach,
You can plane is flat water...

You need waves to surf...

If you are going faster than the waves you are planing,

if you are moving about at the wave's speed, and staying on the same wave for a while you are surfing.

 
If you get a push from a wave to start you are surfing.  It then becomes a matter of how long you can maintain the surf before she drops back into the water.

My personal record was in about 30 knots of NE heading for Hobart in 89 or 90 on a 42 foot cruiser racer.  3 waves.  Got thrown by a big 1st one continued surfing up the back of the second and over the top which gave us enough momentum to climb over the third one and ride it to the bottom.  Surprisingly this was all done at 21 -22 knots so never got particularly fast,  just got lucky with the swell pattern.   We managed 2 waves 3 or 4 times that evening,  so it was an unusual swell.

 

Meat Wad

Super Anarchist
If you get a push from a wave to start you are surfing.  It then becomes a matter of how long you can maintain the surf before she drops back into the water.

My personal record was in about 30 knots of NE heading for Hobart in 89 or 90 on a 42 foot cruiser racer.  3 waves.  Got thrown by a big 1st one continued surfing up the back of the second and over the top which gave us enough momentum to climb over the third one and ride it to the bottom.  Surprisingly this was all done at 21 -22 knots so never got particularly fast,  just got lucky with the swell pattern.   We managed 2 waves 3 or 4 times that evening,  so it was an unusual swell.
So you are also saying that when a surfer catches a wave his little board is not planing? Yes he uses the waves to get the initial push, but it sure looks like the board is planing.

I have been on boats where a swell instigates planing and then the boat proceeds to go faster than the waves until wind apparent wind pressure drops below the threshold needed to maintain the plane.
Yep, it almost feels like you are on Ice or on snow skis. The verge of control has been hit and it can be scary fast.

 

El Borracho

Sam’s friend
6,234
2,326
Pacific Rim
Seems impossible for a hull in displacement mode — hull speed limited — to stay with a wave. The boat’s immersed waterline would need to be the same as the distance between wave crests. So surfing on a wave face requires planing mode.

Some confusion may arise because heavy boats on a plane still displace a great amount of water. A powerful cabin cruiser for example. 

 

Parma

Super Anarchist
2,904
367
here
If you are going faster than you would if the wave / swell were not there then you are surfing.

 

fastyacht

Super Anarchist
12,831
2,537
Seems impossible for a hull in displacement mode — hull speed limited — to stay with a wave. The boat’s immersed waterline would need to be the same as the distance between wave crests. So surfing on a wave face requires planing mode.

Some confusion may arise because heavy boats on a plane still displace a great amount of water. A powerful cabin cruiser for example. 
Not quite true. First of all no such thing as hull speed. Second. All it takes is power. A big wave the slope of the wave suffices to provide the power.

A 3o foot sailboat can and will sirf the wake of a 45 footers. Even old tymie boats

 

inneedofadvice

Super Anarchist
1,452
190
Sarnia
With my Olson 29, 30 knots wind and 10-15' waves, boat speed peaking above 16 knots we were exceeding the speed of the wave and driving into the back of the next wave(if you've ever been on an O29 in these conditions, we are talking burying the bow in the next wave). Was I surfing or planing?

 
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