Surfing is my religion if I have one – Kelly Slater
The ocean is a surfers paradise. It’s the sketchbook that they use to practice and perfect their art and the blank canvas upon which they paint their masterpieces.
Like all artists, the tales of prowess, pushing the envelope, and legendary endeavor in the pursuit of surfing perfection are embellished and exaggerated over time, as the myths surrounding these heroic and often defying feats are passed from one generation to the next.
There are fables of legendary hundred-foot breaks in once-in-generation storms that were ridden to glory and witnessed by the few brave souls who had the courage to paddle out to meet Poisedon’s fury head-on.
And there are tales of surfers catching so much air that two fully grown men standing on others’ shoulders couldn’t fill the gap between the rider, his board, and the crest of the wave.
But if you weren’t there, you’ll never know if they were true or not and whether those incredible undertakings and efforts were nothing more than fireside fantasies spun for the amusement of grommets and old-timers.
Even the tallest of tales are built on some foundation of truth though, and while the exalted adventures of the few are whispered about over the counters of surf shops from Maui to Porthcawl and Cornwall to Bondi, there are some stunts that every surfer can add to their bag of tricks if they’re willing to get out on the water and take their share of spills and knocks while they’re attempting to perfect them.
And right at the top of the list, sharing board space with the Big Kahuna himself is hanging ten.
Hanging Ten Bro, Hanging Ten
Hang ten, or to hang ten to give its proper terminology is one of those surfing terms that’s passed into the mainstream lexicon thanks to being used in a multitude of films, books, and comics, and while there isn’t a wave rider alive who’s exactly bothered about the phrase being used by hodads and civilians, it can get a little vexing when people don’t use it correctly because they don’t actually know what it means.
While we’ll delve a little deeper in a moment and explain where the expression came from and what it originally meant and still means, it has been co-opted and used in a number of different ways, all of which can be viewed as being correct, from a certain point of view.
Depending on the context and the subject of the conversation in which it’s being used, “hanging ten” can mean that someone is perfectly relaxed, having achieved a near zen-like state of peace or it can mean that someone is living in the moment and has, for a brief period of time at least, completely forgotten about the day to day rigmarole of modern existence that keeps us all chained together as slaves to the spirit of mediocrity that slowly, but surely consumes everyone.
But What Does Hang Ten Really Mean And Where Does The Term Come From?
Most surfers will tell you that the phrase sprang up, and entered casual conversation on the West Coast in the nearly nineteen sixties, but that just isn’t true.
While its origins are lost to the waves of time, as Duke Boyd and Doris Moore founded their popular brand of surfwear ‘Hang Ten’ in nineteen sixty in Seal Beach, California, it’s fairly safe to assume that the term was being used for some time before the shop opened its doors.
And as Boyd spent the majority of his youth surfing in Hawaii, it’s almost certain that the term, and the trick that it describes originated in Oahu.
‘Hanging Ten’ in surfing terms happens when a surfer rides the nose of his board and dangles all of his toes over the edge of it. When all ten toes are literally over the nose of the board and are hanging in space, the surfer in question is said to be ‘hanging ten’.
So hang ten literally means to dangle all ten of your toes over the nose of your board while you’re balancing, and riding on the front of it. If it sounds difficult, that’s because it is, but seeing as we’re in a generous mood we’re going to tell you how to do it.
How To Hang Ten On A Surfboard
First things first, unless you’re riding a longboard, forget all about it and move on to something else as you can’t hang ten on shortboards.
Well, that’s not true as someone out there probably can, but as we haven’t rubbed shoulders or shared a wave with them yet, we’re going to stick to our guns and repeat our earlier point. If you don’t ride a longboard, you can’t hang ten.
You’re going to need to catch a pretty big wave, so bide your time, hang back, and wait for your moment. It doesn’t need to be perfect, but it needs to be good.
When you catch it, build up a little speed, cut deep, and aim high, as the closer to the crest of the wave you are, the easier it’s going to be to hang ten.
When the wave starts to break, and the back of your board begins to dig in, inch your way forward on your board.
Don’t hesitate, and don’t hang around because you’ll need to be quick, but at the same time, you don’t want to overbalance and spill, so feel your board and the wave under your feet and creep forward with purpose and poise.
Aim for the inner rail, and if all goes well, you’ll be able to hang all ten toes over the nose of your board while the fins are still churning foam behind you.
Enjoy the moment, relax and watch the world and the water passing by around you, and when you feel your board begin to tip or lose momentum, ease back, push the fins down and ride the wave all the way to the shore.
Having done it once, you’ll want to do it again and again until you get it right, and you know that you’ve nailed hanging ten. So get back out there, catch the next wave and hang ten all over again.