We’ve all seen it before. Super tiny shortboard under rad surf dude’s arm heading out to the waves. Sweet tapered carbon fibre integrated rails. Quad fin set-up. Feather-lite composite. Oh that board is so slick and he is so cool…
Hold on! There’s no frick’n waves!
You finish waxing your longboard and head out. Small waves coming. You’re catching stuff. Smiling like crazy. Having an awesome time. You look over and see buddy sitting….and sitting….laying down….swimming around…humming…smacking the ocean around and commanding the goddess of nature to send some barreling waves…Well, smiles all around for you as you made a good equipment choice.
Legendary Mickey Muñoz put it so eloquently.
“There are no bad waves, only
a poor choice of equipment
and a lousy attitude.”
If you are like me and I think a few others, you surf for the purpose of smiling. You’re not thinking much about the whole coolness factor thing. So in order to maximise your funness, choosing the right equipment is soooo important.
I’m going to keep it simple and only talk about wave height for this one. But there are so many ways people talk about wave height. For me, well just how high is that face? How high is that part that you are actually going to be surfing? And, is it pitching or rolling?
Grab a SUP!
One-Foot and Up
Hello Longboard yes you can. You’re not going to be going anywhere with much else than that. Longboards have low rockers, larger surface area, and are packed full of float. This enables them to glide in those super small wave low energy situations. Go wide round nose, soft full rails, and a round or rounded square tail. You are going to need all that help on days like this.
Two-Foot and Up
Now we are getting a little bit more interesting. You could try taking out a Fish or some kind of Funboard/hybrid. Fishes still have low rockers to them and so are still able to glide and maintain speed in small waves. They also traditionally feature a Flat Bottom Contour enabling the board to plane better. Although they can be as short as a “shortboard”, they are still packed full of volume and have big wide round noses giving super massive float for their size. These are great for the small to medium wave days.
Funboards like a Mini Mal also make good choices. Look for something with volume and nice soft full rails that make it easy to paddle and catch. Remember in order to catch a wave, you need to be able to get your speed up to match it and all that volume in these boards will help in those low energy situations.
Four-Foot and Up
This is where you could start thinking about something shorter since there is more energy. Think shortboard especially if the waves are pitching more. The more pitching a wave is, the more important a rocker is going to be. Taking a longboard out on a pitching wave, you might find yourself pearling a heck of a lot. It is also important that rails are hardening up with board choice as you need that to slice into the face of the wave instead of rolling off of it with soft rails. Don’t taper rails too much as you still need board volume to float you enough in order to paddle into the wave. I know tapered thin is oh so cool and stuff. Unless you are pro, be practical and realistic. Ya need the volume on a shortboard that full rails provide.
10 Foot and Up
If you are surfing waves like this (I.e. Gun), I think you already know what you are doing. I bow down to your godliness.
Another thing you could think about is chop. If there is a lot of chop, you could consider a board with something like a belly bottom. A belly or vee bottom is also beneficial for control when waves are big. But, you really don’t need it on four foot days. It will just slow ya down (I.e. shorter rides) and make things more inefficient in these low energy situations.
Tons of Fins?
And you really don’t need a million fins unless you are surfing big waves. The more fins you drop in the water the more friction you create. Fins are meant for traction and control. In bigger wave days, faster speeds, you need more control and so more fins help a lot. So unless you are going pro and surfing huge wave days (not much of that around East Asia), you really don’t need more than a tri-fin set-up. Thrusters on your shortboard are good enough. Longboard day, try single fin! Bet you have not done that for a while!
Notice how I say “…and Up”. Well that’s because of course you can take a longboard out on a barreling 8′ wave! Why the heck not? Just get out there and have fun! But, surf safe and respectful of others. There’s always another wave and so wait your turn. And don’t be poppin your collar. After all, we reminisce about the days when we had a ton of fun. Who the heck remembers the ones when we looked cool? Who the heck cares! Just smile baby!