But, "If surf-time and go outs are at a premium then experimenting with asymmetricals is likely a poor return on investment."
So many rabbit holes to get lost down with surfboard design and scarcely enough time in a human lifespan to get a taste of everything at the buffet, if you’ll pardon a mangled metaphor.
Alternative board designs are like crack cocaine to me, likely because they are a crutch for limited ability, stiff, slow, five-point bottom turns and all that jazz.
Alternative designs can make you feel better than you are, or at the least stop rubbing your nose in the insufficiency of a mediocre skill set on high-performance equipment.
Asymmetrical surfboards are viewed through this lens, incorrectly I think.
Although alternative, there’s nothing inherently low performance about them, unless your definition of high performance is strictly pegged to CT standard surfing.
Is it a thing?
Yes it is.
We credit Ryan Burch as the modern-day maestro, with Bryce Young his understudy. Dane Reynolds gets the dad bod all over alternative boards. A cornerstone of the movement is asymmetrical equipment.
Bob Simmons, author of the modern surfing life, begat futurist Carl Ekstrom*, who begat the asymmetrical surfboard at Windansea, La Jolla San Diego ,1965.
Experimentation in the southern hemisphere was carried on primarily by Allan Byrne from the Gold Coast via New Zealand and Phil Myers at Lennox/Ballina.
That’s the basic history of it.
It had it’s moment in the sun and now it’s coming back around.
The Disasym from Matt Parker at Album surfboards, Encinitas, follows the line of the Ryan Burch process: performance asymmetrical surfboards.
The one I rode is 5’10”, no volume number, which was blissful, a generous foil with a parallel-accented outline curve.
It comes with a custom Futures set: large twin-fin under the longer toe-side tail rail and half a quad set under the shorter heel-side rail.
The Theory as elucidated by Ekstrom at Windansea: longer rail line on the forehand where you can apply more pressure and a shorter heel side arc. I’m not sure that theory would stack up scientifically under the rigours of modern high-performance surfing but it works empirically for Burch and pals.
My first session in janky point surf did not go well, apart from establishing the board as a very good paddler, especially into waves with the sawn off nose. It felt stiff and sticky, then lacking drive, which accords with Dane Reynolds initial impressions when riding it in Mexican point surf for The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.
He was able to change something up in his approach, unspecified, to make it work. That occurred on my watch too. Not so much my approach but better waves bought the board alive.
A prolonged swell event from a tropical cyclone near Fiji brought a ton of surf, of varying quality. Ryan Burch uses the board in good waves in place of the high perf thruster. Both his and Bryce Young’s feature the narrow, ski-type parallel outline found on the Disasym.
With the single concave bottom it needs a certain hull speed to break free.
Once attained the board feels completely different.
The stiffness and stickiness transforms into a very fluid, slippery feeling. You get the downwind “catamaran” effect where the rails feel more sensitive and effective the faster you go.
That’s an effect common to certain concave designs.
How much effect the asymmetrical outline and fin cluster has is hard to say.
Watching Burch and Young it’s obvious they can draw different lines, especially frontside, at say, Indonesian reefbreaks for Burch and Angourie for Young. I rode mostly backside so theoretically the toe-side top turn should have been constrained.
It did not feel constrained.
I had planned to take the board to the Tullamarine tub but based on the advice of fellow asymmetrical rider Stu Nettle I left it at home. I doubt there would have been the wavespeed to get it going. Parker markets the board as a high-performance vehicle, which is true and fair, but I’d go a step further.
It shines as a step-up in the good wave space.
The asymmetrical surfboard does present a conundrum for the late-capitalist society surfer. The dichotomy between the leisure class and the time-poor sod has never been more sharply delineated. If surf-time and go outs are at a premium then experimenting with asymmetricals is likely a poor return on investment. You have to find something that works and stay close to it.
Obvs, young studs like Burch and Young who get paid to surf have an entirely different surf equation to solve.
I do have a wave-rich diet, due to eschewing the material pleasures of the consumer society in favour of Camus’ sumptuous poverty by the sea.
I can afford to blow off sessions in search of new sensations.
Don’t worry I work my little arse off, but there aren’t many days when I can’t get three to the beach.
Curiosity and time: if you’ve got both on tap and some good waves nearby.
Chilean pointbreaks come immediately to mind.
Maybe a Scottish or Icelandic reef, then asymmetrical surfboards could be for you.
Probably not a bad pathway for an ex-CT pro looking to reinvigorate a stalled career ie Matty Wilko.
Dane in the end pronounced judgement on the Disasym: “I got the hang of it and it’s pretty sick.”
For me, stiff, slow, lacking ability etc etc, I had a lot of brilliant, really fun moments on the Disasym.
My judgement: I shall pack it for G-land as the small-wave board.