Barrels: where time speeds up and slows down | Photo: Rip Curl

Time dilation and the irrelevance of the awareness of time are the core themes behind the surfers' tube riding experience.

"Time Barrel: How Do Surfers Experience Time in the Barrel" is probably one of the most exciting surf books ever written. Cynthia M. Peterson, who holds a PhD in Psychology, decided to study time perception in the ultimate surfing maneuver: getting barreled.

She raised many interesting questions. How does time seem to alter for a surfer engaged in the tube? How is awareness of time perceived by a barreled surfer ? Can a surfer perform tests, such as clicking a simple trigger in response to an audible signal, while in the pit?

Volunteers were invited via postings on surfing social networks to participate in the study to examine the "transcendental phenomenology of time transformation". Five questions were asked:

1. Did time seem to alter (either slow down or speed up)?
2. Did the way time passed seem to be different from normal?
3. Did it feel like time went by quickly or slowly?
4. Was your awareness of time lost or enhanced?
5. Is there anything else you can elaborate on to tell us more about how you experience time while surfing?

"Key phrases and statements of every line in the participants' responses to the qualitative questions were coded. The word 'enhance' was used by 16 of the [36] participants to describe their subjective experience of time in the barrel", explains Cynthia Peterson.

For example, seven surfers described the time in the barrel as both speeding up and slowing down. But the book's overall findings go further and will definitely impress anyone. A must-have surf publication.

Get "Time Barrel: How Do Surfers Experience Time in the Barrel".