UNCW brings beach to the classroom through surfing related courses


WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington is known as a beach town and that is one of the many reasons students love UNCW.

There are a few courses that are offered at the university that you may not find anywhere else.

- Advertisement -

Students file into Deloach Hall every Wednesday at 1pm for class you’ll only find at UNCW.

“Just growing up surfing and being on the surf team, it’s interesting to take a class that pertains to something I’m so interested in,” Student Shane Burn said.

The Physics of Surfing is a new course taught by Dr. Dylan McNamara. He says no surfing skills are required but the room is full of avid wave riders.

“Surfers in general are kind of like arm chair physicist or meteorologists,” Dr. McNamara. “They are always thinking about the weather.”

McNamara came up with the course as he has spent much of his surfing.

“I’ve been thinking about the class for a long time, and I knew it would go over well on the campus because surfing is a part of this campus,” McNamara said. “I mean the beach is a part of the culture here at UNCW.

The class is designed for students to learn about where waves come from and the dynamics of surfboards.

Shane Burn is the captain of the UNCW Surf Team and says the class is teaching him why and how things happen while he’s in the water.

“You learn a lot about surf forecasting and surf board physics, and it’s really beneficial even if you’re not a good surfer,” Burn said. “It’s good stuff for just basic knowledge.”

Another surfing related course offered this spring is the History of Surfing taught by Peter Maguire, a surfer himself.

Maguire says the class starts by learning about the ancient Hawaiians and continue to the rise of Kelly Slater.

“We’ve watched of course “Endless Summer,” “Big Wednesday,” “Five Summer Story,” “Crystal Voyager,” on and on,” Maguire said.

Maguire adds that the class will travel to the beach and ride a wave before the end of the semester, at least try to.

“We visited a surfboard factory so they could actually see a surfboard being laminated and understand how they are actually made, and we are hoping to have a class surf,” Mcguire said.

From freshman to seniors, these students are getting an in-depth look into the sport and how it’s impacted the Cape Fear culture.

“People who are non-scientists, it’s really good to at least get an understanding of how science forms phenomenons that they seen in their everyday lives,” McNamara said. “This is a case where everyone here has probably been at the beach, they have seen waves, and now they will have some scientific insight of how waves come about.”

The History of Surfing class has been offered before, but the Physics of Surfing course is new this semester.

Both are at maximum capacity this spring with more than 70 students taking Physics of Surfing.