Why are some surfers called goofy and how to find out if you’re one?
It may sound very odd to outsiders that the surfers divide themselves into two tribes: regular & goofy. The term evokes that some of them are doing it right while the others are silly & ridiculous. But the story behind is actually quite funny and less mischievous.
The origin of the term Goofy
In the surfing prehistory (less than 100 years ago), most surfers believed that the only correct way of riding the waves is with the left foot forward. It’s hard to tell how it really was, but I can imagine that those who rode with their right foot may have been ridiculed or even persuaded to switch their stance permanently. Until it all changed in 1937.
Walt Disney’s cartoons were very popular at that time and one of their adventures lead Mickey & friends to a Hawaiian Holiday. While the others had their fun with ukuleles & hula dancing, the funky dog Goofy decided to take on surfing. And, probably because none of the authors ever tried it, they got it all wrong and poor Goofy was surfing with his right foot forward!
A legend was born!
As you can imagine, many surfers started to relate to Goofy, and soon they started a movement for equality. The catchy name stuck on and the term goofy is now well spread not only among surfers, but it was transferred to skateboarding & snowboarding too.
What does it mean to be goofy?
Just like being left-handed or right-handed, one of your legs is naturally stronger. In surfing, we need to put our stronger leg on the back, otherwise we’ll have a poor balance and less board control.
Regular surfers have the left foot forward and right on the back. Goofy surfers have their right leg forward and left back.
Now with modern science and the historical prejudices gone, we know that there is no correct way and both ways are equal. However, your stance on the board determines if you’re riding a front side wave or on your back side.
Regular surfers will face the wave when riding right and be on the back side when riding left. Goofy surfers ride front side on left waves and back side on the right.
This is all very confusing to beginners as they learn to stand up and ride straight first. But once you start turning your board, you can start to feel the big difference.
Most of the surfers confess that they find riding on their front side much easier than backside requires you to look over the shoulder and do some maneuvers blindsided.
As a result, regular surfers have a slight advantage on right-hand waves like Bells Beach, J-bay, Anchor Point, Soup Bowl, Arugam bay or Sunset beach.
Goofy surfers can find left-hand waves like Pipeline, Uluwatu, Cloudbreak, Raglan, Chicama or Teahupo a bit easier.
How to determine who’s goofy or regular?
Strangely, there is no connection between someone being left or right-handed and surfing. Neither there is a 100% reliable field test on determining your stance. But let’s try a couple of them:
Jumping test Gain some speed by running, then try to jump up. Most people jump off their stronger leg.
Slide test Pretend that you’re going to slide on ice. Most people slide with their strong leg back.
Push from behind Stand with your eyes closed, have someone to push you from behind. The leg you used to prevent the fall is your front foot.
Fall from stairs Stand with your feet together and lean forward until you fall. The leg you used to prevent the fall is your front foot.
Stairs climb The leg you put on the first stair is usually your front foot.
Shovel stance Imagine you have to do some hard work with a shovel. Your stance should be the same on a surfboard.
There are many other ways to find out if you are goofy. If you know an interesting one, please share it with us in the comments. But the more you try, the more confused you’re going to be. So my advice is to test it quickly – most people feel it intuitively. Standing on a surfboard on the beach and pretending to ride a big wave while switching stances also helps sometimes. And if you’re still indecisive, just try surfing without thinking about it. Your body should naturally put the correct foot forward.