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Body surfing, where the wave is surfed without a board, using the surfer's own body to catch and ride the wave, is very common and is considered by some to be the purest form of surfing.

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For example, there are Beach breaks, Reef breaks and Point breaks.The most important influence on wave shape is the topography of the seabed directly behind and immediately beneath the breaking wave.For hundreds of years, surfing was a central part of ancient Polynesian culture.Surfing may have first been observed by British explorers at Tahiti in 1767.There, David Kawānanakoa, Edward Keliʻiahonui and Jonah Kūhiō Kalanianaʻole surfed the mouth of the San Lorenzo River on custom-shaped redwood boards, according to surf historians Kim Stoner and Geoff Dunn.

George Freeth (8 November 1883 – 7 April 1919) is often credited as being the "Father of Modern Surfing".

Waves are Left handed and Right Handed depending upon the breaking formation of the wave.

Waves are generally recognized by the surfaces over which they break.

Another prominent form of surfing is body boarding, when a surfer rides a wave on a bodyboard, either lying on their belly, drop knee, or sometimes even standing up on a body board.

Other types of surfing include knee boarding, surf matting (riding inflatable mats), and using foils.

Recently with the use of V-drive boats, Wakesurfing, in which one surfs on the wake of a boat, has emerged.