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Beach Grit

Confession: I’m in love with a monster!

Chas Smith

by Chas Smith

Should you be on an asymmetrical board? Should we all be?

Swell arrived in southern California yesterday for the first time in 1037 days and crowds descended upon my local breaks like a rabid horde. Men drooling and jabbering while forgetting how to parallel park. Women decapitating each other with 9 foot longboards. It was madness. Out of control. But I had a job to do and neither cockamamie Jeep Patriot nor fiberglass guillotine could stop me.

I had to properly gauge the value of asymmetrical surfboards for all of humanity.

Around a month ago, maybe even more, David Lee Scales of SurfSplendor fame and I met in San Clemente at Album Surf for our regular chat. Album was one of the finer surf shops/shaping arenas that I have ever seen. Very well appointed and worth your stopping by.

In any case, Album does many asymmetrical boards and had never quite understood the concept thinking the boards were meant to go right or go left. Matt, Album’s owner/operator gently set me straight. You can listen here or let me quickly summarize. Asymmetrical boards are shaped around the idea that surfers don’t surf the same frontside as they do backside. Frontside has toes facing the wave. Backside has heels. I am a regular footed man so the right rail is longer and the right side also has one giant twin fin. The left rail is shorter and the left side has a mini quad set up.

Very interesting but would it work?

I surfed it very often in tiny waves, having much fun but not being able to gauge it properly. It felt both looser (going right) and stiffer (going left) and I thought I might really like it… maybe.

And then 1239 days later swell hit and I risked life and limb for an accurate assessment.

I paddled around loosened funboards, careening though the whitewash like dumb bombs. I sat in a pack of 346 hungry souls. And I somehow got a wave. And here is what I think. The way the asymmetrical board is built makes it virtually impossible to not have your back foot right in the sweetspot over the fins. I didn’t fully realize how much this matters until I was wrap-around carving like I’ve never wrap-around carved before. The board… responded. And responded beyond my ability. Going backside it felt like it locked in the pocket without even a stray pump. Just sliding down and straight in and fast.

It was almost too much fun and now I am confused. Are these feelings I’m having wrong? These emotions impure? No one but no one had an asymmetrical board but me and none of us were surfing pumping Snapper. We were surfing a high tide bogged long interval swell. Perfect for racing and bobbing and weaving. No?

Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m a dirty dirty bad boy.

In the meantime, I am getting another asymmetrical to try out because it feels like the key to me getting on the WQS as a 40-year-old man. The feel-good story of the decade!

More to come.