Watch the video! See how many waves our test rider catches in one hour on crowded Gold Coast!
(Editor’s note: The surfboard tested, the 7s Double Down, was designed by the former tour surfer Richie Lovett who spruiks its ability to catch waves. Flat. Wide. Fast. A ton of volume. Our anonymous test rider was given a board that was five feet four inches long and twenty inches wide, and one hour. How many waves could he catch? Hit big play button and watch. Meanwhile, from our writer…)
I’m a terrible cynic, which offers the chief consolation of being usually right in my judgements.
The one object I do cleave to without prejudice is the surfboard.
I elevate the surfboard above nation state, blood and soil, free market, religion etc and I hold this to be a fundamentally rational stance. Over a millenia the way recombinant design elements have been blended into a functional whole to create a surfboard is a creative achievement up there with the evolution of DNA.
If shaper/designers/board-builders worldwide get an extra piece of the action from Dirk Ziff’s famous rising tide then I think a concession to his vision would be appropriate.
Today we discuss the 7S Double Down, the design brain-child of former CT surfer Richie Lovett. The pitch was to take the Double Down into the maw of summer crowds as an equaliser. My board, at 5’6” lacked the volume for that so I deputised my first born and only son and sent him into battle at the Pass.
He’s eight, flame haired. Like all Aussie Rangas he’s scrappy, emotional and likes to punch above his weight. All things considered, life has dealt him a pretty fair hand. He paddled the forward-weighted outline easily to the top of the Point and swung on a set wave, putting a hustle on a Latvian blonde giant who straight-legged the takeoff.
My boyo snapped at his heels until Dolph Lundgren slipped off the back, then claimed it. Oh, he knows etiquette, but what do you tell your kids when they paddle out to the Pass, maybe the most crowded and chaotic surf spot on Earth? I tell them to keep eyes in the back of their head, fend off a foamie and dive for a leashless log. He got heaps.
Australia lost its egalitarian flavour long ago. I blame soccer mums and their micro-sensitivity to status difference for that. Anxiety about status has become the default Australian psychological position.
The surfboard has not been exempt in contributing to the malaise. By that reading, a mid-range Asian board like the 7S sits well below higher status equipment like Volan hipster single-fins and custom shortboards, but still above more basic Asian-made boards.
It lacks the cultural cache of a Hypto Krypto or the Formula One connotation of a Cymatic. Functionally, they are well designed and manufactured. More high performance than a Hypto, but way more friendly than a Ghost. The Innegra Matrix build is light and would suit those advancing from foam equipment and into a shorter board.
If that were the case, volume it up. I suggest more volume than is recommended. One extra litre for you, one for Jesus. As purely utilitarian vehicles they do the job perfectly well for anyone else too. Although small for me, I was easily able to murder some closeout reos during a spate of head-high onshore surf.
I could see boards like these helping so many people. We hosted a German teenager as a method to bank a few shekels during the process. Shekels he easily ate week after week. He wanted to surf. I helped him buy a rotund mini-mal. Weeks later it wasn’t cool enough and he raided my quiver so he could put a shortboard under his arm. Progress halted.
A French au pair followed the German. Corinne was from Alsace, with a teutonic steeliness and a white-hot hatred of the Australian male. She considered us boorish and uncouth, which is true I suppose. The Australian tradesman. a species I venerate, she held to be the devil incarnate.
She tolerated me because I said my favourite author was Stendahl (a lie, it’s Doestoevsky). Everyday she regaled us with tales of her surfing proficiency. She lectured my wife on the rights and wrongs of surfing style.
Finally, I thought, I have to see this French ingenue in action with my own eyes. Enquiring where she surfed I hid under a pandanus palm and watched the session unfold. A baroque warm-up followed by a paddle out then…nothing. She could not catch a wave on her tiny shortboard. Not one. She paddled in.
Corinne had a passion for the New Zealand Pakeha male which was the equal of her hatred for the Australian man and decamped soon after for Aeteoroa, hoping to find love. In another time, I could have slipped a 7S under her arm. She would have been better for it.
Tim Baker once gave a surf writing workshop modelled on American mythologist Joseph Campbell’s The Hero’s Journey. He would have been thrilled by noted commentor, now writer ChannelBottom’s journey into middle-aged purgatory followed by a raging against the dying of the light. The detail in the story that stood out to me was the 6’10” under the arm during the comeback. Not some narrow-nosed, thin Indo-style gun from the 90’s by chance?
He also spoke about the atrophied back foot. To which I say: get some width into you. Some area up front. Forget about the back foot. That’s fucking gone. Like the hair.
If you’ve really let go of the surfboard as status symbol – no judgement if you have – then something like a 7S is as purely functional as anything else out there. It feels good.