I always get a kick when an older guy – say, over the age of 50 – uses the phrase, “Chasing trim.” to refer to the act of trying to score with women. When it is used in the context of surfing, “trim” has a completely different meaning, although it can produce an extremely enjoyable sensation comparable to that of its more sexual homonym. Trim basically refers to the act of riding across the face of a wave horizontally at the optimal angle and speed. For people just learning to surf, the concept of trim is pretty much useless, since most of their time is spent riding the whitewash of an already-broken wave straight to the beach. As surfers progress, however, understanding and practicing the principles of trim is essential to improving their wave riding experience and achieving the non-replicable sensation surfers call “glide”.
Trying to describe how glide feels to a non-surfer is something that every surfer struggles with. Think about how a bird looks as it glides effortlessly on air currents, or the appearance of a dolphin swimming smoothly through the ocean, perhaps just barely breaching the surface for air before diving with speed and grace. Rather than working against the elements, these creatures move in frictionless harmony with them, creating the illusion that they are actually one with the ocean and sky. When you are trimming across the face of a wave, propelled forward only by the strength of a swell that has traveled hundreds, or even thousands of miles – that is what glide feels like. Sort of.