Call Waves

My question is this: The report will give the surf height in feet. Following that is a series of descriptions such as waist, shoulder, head and overhead. As I am almost 6 feet tall, I imagine a head high wave to be at about 6 feet, and waist high at about 3 feet, a double overhead at about 12 feet. Is my assumption correct?


Hey Beck-

Yeah, pretty close. We go on the assumption that a surfer will be crouching slightly as he/she surfs, so below is a general overview of our wave height/body size chart:

1'= ankle-shin high
2'= knee-thigh high
3'= waist-belly high
4'= chest-shoulder high
5'= head high
6'= 1 foot overhead
8'= 3' overhead
10'=5' overhead or Double Overhead faces
12'= Double Overhead+ faces

Please also see photos below for reference.

Sean Collins adds:

Surf definition: will always be breaking wave heights on the face.

Swell definition: will always be deepwater swell heights from crest to trough before the swell shoals into a breaking wave.

For most spots on an average ground swell with periods between 12-16 seconds, the surf face height will grow to be about 1.3 times the deepwater swell height - on the average. Other factors like very deep water offshore or underwater canyons and/or sea mounts can great affect the surf heights locally. Longer swell periods may result in greater surf heights, shorter periods in smaller surf heights.

Hope that helps-

Kevin Wallis
Surfline Forecaster

2 foot or Knee high:

3 foot or Waist high:

4 foot or Shoulder high:

5 foot or Head High:

6 foot or 1 foot overhead:

8 foot or 3 feet overhead:

10 foot or Double overhead:

12 foot or Double overhead+:

Comments: (27) chris csikszentmihalyi

Physicists measure amplitude of waves, which is height from calm (sea level). In a sine (a symmetrical, deep water) wave, the part above sea level (peak) is equal to the trough. I'm guessing this is where the 1/2 of face for the "real" wave height came from. Lot of Navy techs in Hawaii. Faces of breaks vary, but backs are more like swell, aka sines. NOAA, like Surfline, defines height as crest to trough. This is what is what surfers look down.

Mike W

All of it is pretty simple. The true wave height is measured from crest to trough which is measured from behind the wave. ( or if front out at sea) NOAA and other institutions will measure this way. Therefore, the Hawaiian way is scientifically more accurate by using approximately half the height of the wave face of a breaking wave.


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What's call wave? | Yahoo Answers

an internet answering machine. i first got it when it was free, now they charge. it shows a callers name and number and allows them to leave a message.

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