Surfboards have made a radical shift towards extra volume over the last few years… everyone is realising that foam is their friend, and wave catching is the most important part of surfing. For most of us that means wider/thicker, and sometimes a fraction shorter.
I found some time to escape to West Oz over the last couple of weeks with my girlfriend. Sun, surf, wineries (for her… did you know they don’t sell beer at most wineries?!), good food, etc etc. You can see where my priorities lay I guess from the list I just gave.
I took three boards with me of course… 2 shortboards and a groveller. For research and development purposes I took:
1. Trigger Bros 6’0 x 19″ x 2 1/4″ rounded square @ 26.1L – Team Rider model.
My standard shortboard – I can ride this thing in tiny waves right through to 6ft plus surf. By changing the fins up a size it comfortably rides 6ft waves. I have had numerous copies of this file done by Simon Forward over the last year or so. The same file has been ridden by our team regularly to wins and solid results in local and state competitions – a proven performer.
2. Rusty 6’0 x 18 5/8″ x 2 1/4″ rounded square @ 26.1L – Yes Thanks model.
Rusty’s new Josh Kerr model – a demo available at the Frankston store thanks to our rep Tom Nolan. When he gave us this one to try I shuddered at the thought of dropping back under 19″ for the first time in years – despite the fact the volume was identical to my everyday board.
3. Rusty 5’8 x 19 3/8″ x 2 3/8″ diamond tail @ 26.5L – Neil Diamond model.
A groveller I have ridden in the smallest waves I can find (before needing a SUP)… this thing gets going in tiny conditions and surfs well up to shoulder high. Also doubles as the perfect board for Kiah when the conditions line up for her to surf.
We scored some fun waves – a few solid days at 4-6ft plus Margs and Southside (surfed Main Break solo twice – can tell you I was DEFINITELY thinking about sharks), fun Gas Bay, 4-6ft Boodjidup, solid Conto’s, playful Red Gate and Bunker Bay – the last two locations which provided fun 1-2ft waves, perfect for Kiah. So what did I discover?
We may have gone too wide! I always thought it was interesting that the pros often don’t ride the widths we see in the premium shortboard brands – ie. stock board will be 19″ but those guys are riding up to 1/2″ narrower in the same model…
So when Tom dropped off the Yes Thanks, I immediately thought it would be too narrow for me – however, it grovels as well in 1-2ft surf as my Trigger Bros shortboard which is far wider. What is the benefit of the narrower outline then? Rail to rail transition! Irrespective of surf size, the Yes Thanks manoeuvred generally a lot faster – allowing for tighter turns and a faster response. Particularly in good waves the loss of 3/8″ in width felt a whole lot more secure also as the board stuck to the face in a couple of sketchy situations.
I thought this might have been just a bit of a coincidence, or the benefit of riding a newer model… but after talking to a few of the local guys, found it to be a massive trend in the west. We dropped by one of the local stores which sells predominantly JS and Channel Islands. The young guy in there said that over the last year he has noticed widths coming back in a touch too. Surfers in the water confirmed this, with plenty of CI T-Lows and Semi Pro’s being the boards of choice for the average guy.
Since returning to work I have had lots to think about board wise – with a Mentawai boat trip coming up in April I thought it would be a great opportunity to test the theory. Fordy and I will be doing up a couple of regular boards for the trip. I’m thinking a 5’11 x 18 7/8 x 2 1/4 round square and a 6’0 x 18 3/4 x 2 1/4 rounded pin. So long as we can get the volume over 26L on both I’m thinking the new approach might pay dividends – still having the same wave catching abilities, but increased response and performance.
What do you think – have we gone too wide? Irrespective of ability, could your surfing improve with a little narrower board – increased performance capabilities? I always thought planing area would be the most important thing for both wave catching and increased performance, but perhaps its a combination of refined area and higher volume that will give the best outcomes!? Come by the shop and let us know when you order your next board.
**And before you start the “they have better waves” argument, I have since surfed 3-4ft Gunna and 1-2ft Rye and found similar results with the Yes Thanks. Pre-trip I actually rode the Yes Thanks in the most horrendous conditions imaginable at Sometimes too… grovelled fine. For anyone who has surfed at Bunker Bay I can also tell you it went okay in 1ft dribble… not my board of choice, but far from a weak option as Kiah swanned about on the 5’8 diamond. How selfish of her.
*** Interestingly though, I rode my Trigger Bros board on the heaviest day of the trip – Boodjidup. A stronger glass job, and years of experience on the shape had me feeling a little more comfortable as I dodged 6ft, flat-bottom slabs. Multiple boards made the 1km trek back that day in 2 pieces!
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