Man goes against fish and mid-length grain, rides giant performance surfboards…
I have a fetish. It’s embarrassing, but find me one that’s not?
It ain’t fondling toes. Or sexy Kurdish step mums looking to discipline naughty sons.
I like big boards. Like, stupid big.
I hesitate to call them mid-lengths, because it’s more than that. When it comes to everyday beachies, I worship Volume and Length in equal measure.
Current loves are: 6’8″ Campbell Brothers A/O. Seven-four Sam Egan Indo gun. Seven-foot dreadnought twin. A favourite 7’10”, a big boy’s big wave board I picked up for $250, the ugliest thing you’ve ever seen, has just been ridden into the scrap heap.
I carry a little weight, yes. But my dims are ridic. My standard shorties have been relegated to boardriders, boat trips and the odd local reef ledge. Buying off the rack or from a shaper becomes a battle of wills.
“Bro, are you sure you wanna go that big? With your size and weight you should be riding this one three inches shorter than usual. That’s what Mick rides.”
“Nah thanks mate, I’ll take the 6’9″.”
Flicky, skatey shorties just don’t do it for me. There’s no smoother feeling than an early roll in, or the extra hold from a long rail carve. Plus this whole sport grows increasingly absurd, a big nothing. The seas of gym jocks in Hurley wetties earnestly crabbing their 5’10″ Spineteks turn my stomach.
Constant progression is the cancer of our species.
But I ain’t a mid-length hipster, either. I’m just an auto-contrarian.
The surfing world’s going one way, so I go the other.
Big, and ugly.
Thankfully, Gumtree caters to my proclivities. There are many, many boards in my chosen idiom. Ones abandoned by disheartened VALs or gals getting better or guys getting fatter.
I sit in the wings and snatch up their refuse like a spider on its web.
(I especially love the tell-tale signs of an imminent good deal. eg.oard measurements in centimetres or tail pads placed suspiciously high above the leash plug. Come closer, my dear, and show me what you’ve got…)
The boards don’t always come through.
But when they do… *kissy fingers*
It was a fish that started it. Late nineties, chop hop, 5’5″ x 19 ¼” era. Everyone was on ‘em. I couldn’t afford a Mayhem so, being the industriously lazy teen I was, I hacked the nose off an old board with a handsaw instead.
Anything to get me closer to Wardo (I know, I know).
Then fate steered me sideways. I got my hands on a Peter McCabe, shaped for a stout friend who had left it at a mate’s house where I’d stash my boards. He stopped surfing and I claimed terra nullius.
This wasn’t your usual Grubby Indo blade. Wide and thick through the chest but with tapered, low rails and a killer swallow. Purple with black rails. It felt way too big under my arm.
But when I got it in the water? Float, glide, sting in the summer stop. It took me places I hadn’t been before.
My first plumper. I’ve experimented widely ever since.
And so I find myself, in 2019, combing the surf world’s detritus to satisfy my perversion.
Sometimes I wonder if I take it too far. I do worry what people think. Where I surf a 6’2″ is considered a step-up. I know friends laugh behind my back as I walk down the beach with my plus sized loves.
The other day I saw a YouTube clip of a lady that eats sofas. Piece by piece. She carries round bits of foam in her pockets to chew on as she goes about her day.
And there’s another guy who’s in love with his car. Who makes love to his car. Strokes its door handles. Whispers sweet nothings into the modified exhaust pipe.
Maybe they’re just doing it because that’s what sparks joy for them.
Because they know shit’s fucked up too.
It’s their own little protest against a world going mad.
So that’s what I tell myself as I glide into the water on my PWC, sniggers still ringing in my ears.
I’m a performance artist, I scream, taking wave after wave after wave.
I’m a goddamned activist.
And this is my statement.
This is my raised fist.