Surf Science Refreshed for 3rd Edition

Earth's interconnected weather systems as observed from space

Earth's interconnected weather systems as observed from space

© 2014 - NASA

Dr Tony Butt is an oceanographer who hates crowds and lives to surf big waves. He is notorious for his collection of remote northern Spanish reefs, frequented only during high sea conditions, and for exclusively riding his big wave gun even when the surf is only 1ft. He also wrote Surf Science, the original in-depth guide to surf forecasting and has updated the 3rd edition for 2014. See it here.

We sell a lot of surf books here at MSW and we'd say this is one book every surfer should read. Having an understanding the ocean will help you score more waves, and this undoubtedly means more than just knowing how to read a forecast. There's enough depth and detail here to develop a greater understanding of how waves work and the wider synoptic dynamic, without needing a degree yourself.

Exactly what I needed. A clear explanation about the science behind the waves. Giuseppe Colleoni, MSW Customer

We asked Tony Butt why he had decided to update this book with a 3rd edition:

What new additions will we see under the cover?

A lot of the changes are improvements to existing stuff in the last version, with clearer diagrams and better descriptions of the phenomena. The chapter on tides has changed quite a bit, going deeper into the subject, but of course keeping it nice and easy to understand. There is a totally new chapter on rips, which I thought was something lacking in the last version. The forecasting chapters have been totally revised and updated, because forecasting has evolved rapidly over the last few years. I have removed the chapters on wave climate and coastal morphology because these were covered in my 2009 book The Surfer's Guide to Waves, Coasts and Climates.

Why did you decide to create the new edition?

The previous version of the book is 10-years-old. Over that period you obviously get a lot of feedback and ideas, apart from the fact that topics such as wave forecasting go out of date. Surfing and surfers have changed a lot in the last 10 years, so perhaps some of what was relevant then is not so relevant now.

What would you expect people to learn, and do you have to be weather pro to read it?

People will learn how to get more out of their surfing experience. If you know a bit about where the waves come from and why they behave in a particular way, your experience in the water will be a richer one. It might help people to understand phenomena that they have wondered about for years, but have never found a clear, simple explanation not involving a whole load of nasty maths. This book has virtually no equations or hard-to-understand graphics, so of course you don't have to be a weather-pro or any other pro to read it. You just need to be a normal person with a touch of curiosity and a liking for the ocean.

How has model-based surf forecasting change your outlook in setting out to create the new chapters?

Apart from a basic guide as to how to use the tools available, the new forecasting chapters explain the principles behind modern model-based forecasting, and how they relate to real characteristics of ocean waves. For example, understanding how a sea surface is comprised of a continuum of heights, periods and directions will help you understand subtle differences between one swell and another. Surf forecasting is advancing very quickly so I avoid getting into the specific techniques of each forecasting website.

See the new edition here

Defined low pressure systems off the coast of Iceland mean swell for somewhere.

Defined low pressure systems off the coast of Iceland mean swell for somewhere.

© 2014 - NASA