The world is quickly being flooded with shit (see IKEA x WSL collab). The mass-production board industry doesn't need my support.
The less I buy new boards the less I want to buy new boards.
Does that make sense?
I think it does.
It’s a simple equation.
My desire for showroom shapes diminishes the more I purchase and ride used boards.
I’ve bought one new board off the rack in the last five years.
My last custom was a little while before that.
Probably close to twenty second-handers cycled through in that time.
Sure, it’s a vice.
I consider it a moral as much as an economic imperative. The world is quickly being flooded with shit (see IKEA x WSL collab). The mass-production board industry doesn’t need my support.
There’s still one or two dream boards I have in mind that I’ll get shaped. Somewhere down the line. But for now I swim amongst the refuse and jetsam of a rapidly expanding swamp.
Used boards. I’ve written of my love before. Every board’s got a sweet spot, if you’ve got the time to look. It also helps hide my own deficiencies. Poor performances can always be blamed on the board. Project mediocrity and you’re less likely to disappoint.
Boy, there’s some real gems out there.
One came to me on Facebook marketplace a few months back. I was doing my usual doom scroll of boards in the area. The ad had an unassuming title.
“Second hand learner’s board.”
This was no VAL boat or high performance mini-mal though. A sleek-ish outline. Wider through the middle, to be fair. But a bonafide big boi toob shooter. It was the spray that caught my eyes. Thick orange and yellow vertical stripes ran the length of the board.
Very Californian. Very Endless Summer.
Zoom in confirmed. A Robert August handshape.
Known for longboards, this was the R.A. attempt at a shortboard profile for the larger / older / less skilled surfer.
Three ticks for me.
7’6″ x something x something.
The guy has $120 on it. Australian dollars. Thing like that would have to sell for $550, $600. Easy.
I sent him a message seeking availability. Quick response.
“Sorry friend, another buyer has already said he is going to take it.”
I sat and thought. Looked at the board again. Imagined it on a sharp winter’s day, brisk offshore blowing up the face of a Tasman monster, me fading into it early like some mysto veteran corelord.
Wrote another message.
“Has he collected it yet?”
“I’ll give you $150, and can pick it up right now.”
“If you get here with the money, it’s yours.”
I quickly made an excuse to leave work. The car’s sick and I gotta take the baby to the mechanic. Hotline it to the guy’s house on the other side of town. An English fellow, moving home. Had been given the board by a friend to learn on but had never really used it.
“The other guy was pretty pissed when I told him he was missing out. He offered me $200,” he said as he brought the board out from his garage.
“You didn’t want to hold it for him?”
I took it under the arm. Damn it felt good.
“No, I’d already committed to you.”
I was about to pick him up on the contradiction, but decided not to.
“I guess this guy Robert August is a well known shaper huh?” said the Pommy. “I’ve probably had a dozen messages come through after yours. ‘
Reckon I could have got more for it?
I handed over the money. No time for a history lesson. Out of there before old mate decides to up the price or the irate gazzumpee turns up with a knuckle duster.
I’m used to snaking in the water. But this online board snaking brought a whole new level of joy. Snooze you lose ‘n that.
I shoved it in the car and headed back to work. It wasn’t until that afternoon that I was able to inspect it closely. In beautiful condition. A few hairline rail cracks. Some minor damage on the tail. Rotten tail pad placement, which I decided to leave. Set of plastic G5s.
Dimensions like a scaled-up shortboard. Not quite a Queensland Original but in the same ballpark.
This will be a forever board, I told myself. Only to be taken from the rack when the Tasman stirs. Or maybe I’ll restore it and re-sell. I could easily make 5x what I paid.
I’ll be the belle of the winter swells on this thing.
But here is the reality: I am unreliable. Weak willed. Even in the promises I make to myself.
I end up riding the board in predominantly small to medium sized beach breaks, because I can get more waves than other people and because the colours look cool.
Forget whatever idealist cockamamie I spin. These are the factors I favour over performance, lineup congeniality etc. I just want to get as many waves as possible. Everything else is secondary. I’m a surfing solipsist. My experience is the only one that matters, and therefore exists.
A right cunt.
Anyway, the board.
The board. In small waves the thing is a dog. Doesn’t like being thrown around. But still wants to be ridden like a shortboard. Effortless glide between turns there is not.
Still, I slog away. I do eventually end up getting it out in some waves of consequence. It does paddle well. We do make some memories.
Like our final surf.
The scene: A Tasman low bombing from a relatively close distance, throwing up all sorts of shapes at the local. four-to-six-foot breaking over a very shallow bank with regular, bigger clean up sets. All under a clean NW wind.
The conditions I’d originally promised to it.
I sneak out early. Only one or two out.
It’s another simple equation. Early entry, hard bottom turn. Sit up and enjoy the view. Or, it should be. There’s a little vision, but nothing to write home about.
Finally I see the one. Not a set, but a viscous looking bowl coming at me. The other two pass it up.
I spin late, draw off the bottom. Go to set up but the thing looks ready to explode. I pin drop bail instead of pulling in.
I come up from a brief but violent interlude. Find the board snapped right above the fins. Two and three-quarter inches of foam sliced clean. Delam up the whole bottom.
I would have been better pulling in.
The board would have been better off with somebody more deserving. Maybe it wouldn’t have ended up in a better place.
Still, that’s what they’re made for. One-fifty well spent.
I go home, and log back onto marketplace.