Course Syllabus: Surfing: The Culture, and Complexity of the Sport

So you would like to know more about surfing, be more that just a "poser," become a surfer (or if you already surf, a better surfer), or know the ins and outs of the sport, then here is a unique opportunity to learn virtually everything about surfing from an industry legend.


Dr. Bruce Gabrielson


The Bruce "Snake" Gabrielson Surfing Museum and Surf Art Gallery, Chesapeake Beach, MD. Note: The course will be conducted with an on the beach learning to surf component at the end of the course.

Course Content

Students taking the class will gain an understanding the following:

1. History and culture of the sport.

2. Beach environment and physics of wave generation.

3. General aspects of the impact of sport fulfillment on adolescents and adults.

4. Sports etiquette and safety concerns.

5. Industry and business relationships and laws.

6. Art of surfboard building including equipment, design, materials, shaping, glassing, repairs.

7. Competitions (amateur and professional) including judging and general competitive techniques.

8. Learning to Surf.

Things you will learn during discussions:

1. Important figures in the sport and why?

2. How the culture of surfing has evolved from the “Golden Era” until present day. Did board design impact culture and if so what were the significant events that influenced each?

3. How has the social acceptance of the surfing community been influenced or changed since the 1950s until present day? What were the specific factors that caused this acceptance or rejection?

4. Physical conditioning and discipline related to surfing impact Physiosocial development. Whether or not learning success might impact Physiosocial development negatively or positively pre-high school, high school and adulthood.

5. The beach environment including dunes, sand migration, and erosion protection.

6. Major surf breaks around the world including why these breaks are popular or renowned. Student’s will be able to explain the physics and mechanisms involved with wave generation, energy transfer, break development and how might these be simulated artificially?

7. Localism, surf etiquette, sport safety, and the impact of “surf rage.”

8. Various surfboard designs and the conditions favorable for each aspect, including board building and material selection.

9. Business considerations necessary to run a surfboard manufacturing company, a retail outlet, and a surf school.

10. The numerous laws applicable to the US surf industry and discussions on which might be the most important from various perspectives: shop owners, surf school owners, school coaches, and professional managers.

11. Various organizations associated with the sport including their primary focus area and who they predominately influence.

12. Factors that might help or impact surfing's acceptance as an Olympic sport.

Student will need:

• Computer with Internet access and e-mail account
• Online Book: Complete Coaching Guide for Coaches
• Selected provided reading materials


This is a serious 6 week course that will help you become a knowledgeable surfer regaredless of your previous experience or participation in the sport. Each session will last approximately 1 1/2 hours in the evening with individual or very small group classes. The cost is the same as a traditional college course, $300.

For more information, contact Bruce at