It's the device that either separates or connects you to the most profound of pleasures. Get to know it!
Go buy a surfboard. Yeah, of course!
It’s that great toy that provides such thrills for so little money. But how many of us have left the shop or the bay with a mixture of disappointment and a feeling of being ripped off?
You can’t blame the shaper. Unless you’ve been going to a total backyarder you’ll get what you asked for. So how do you get the surfboard you want. And need. Think a little and know that:
1. Volume is important but rocker is everything
Everyone’s hot for knowing their surfboard’s volume in litres. I’m a 28; you’re a 24. Life’s great. But knowing volume is no different to knowing your jean size but being unaware of rises and cuts and silhouettes and how tapered you want your legs. Me? I believe the key to getting a surfboard that’s going to skyrocket your confidence is in low rockers, particularly nose rockers. Curvy boards are like standing on rolling logs. You want stable. When you paddle you want fast. Sure, know how many litres are in your board, but start thinking about rocker.
2. Board design is a game of give and take
It’s physics. A curvy board won’t have drive. A flat board won’t fit a curve. I know, I know. You read the spiel about a model and they’ll say, easy to turn and with drive! It can’t happen. The theory is concave will deliver the speed while the curve in the rocker gives the turn. What you get is a twitchy speed from the concave but not drive which is an earthy V-8 kinda torque. All board design is about adding and subtracting until you find the happiest of mediums. The more extreme one aspect of design, the more it’ll lack in another. Which leads to…
3. What kind of surfing are you chasing?
It’s no accident that the smoothest and fastest surfers (think Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson) have shelved their air games. Both ride boards that are made for speed and drive and the most pleasing of real-estate gobbling cutbacks. Filipe Toledo, on the other hand, rides boards that… pop! Heavy tail curve! So apply it to your own game. If you want to paint trad lines, try variations of the Parko/Fanning boards; airs, try Filipe or Noa Deane.
4. Rails? Remember those?
Square or rolled, what’s it going to be? Rails used to be such a big deal and now we kinda take what we’re given. If a shaper is trying to squeeze your 28 litres into a 5’6″ you’re going to get a full rail; if it’s in a 6’1″, they’ll be rolled to the heavens. Maybe it’s time we stole some of our control back. You like basic, easy-to-ride boards? Go squared-up rails. You want volume but a thin rails and don’t mind a loss of stability. Roll ’em.
5. Team glassing
Just once in your life, order a board that is glassed the same as the pro’s. It won’t last, of course. But you’ll discover another of those semi-secrets: super-light boards are the easiest to throw around.
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