Board advice for the bog standard surfer!

Stu Nettle
Swellnet Dispatch

Have you heard about the Peter Principle? It's the idea that, in the workplace, every worker gets promoted one rung above their level of competence.

In surfing, there's a similar sort of dynamic at play: every surfer thinks they're one level (or sometimes two or three) better than they actually are. We're all guilty of it, though there's no need to be ashamed as it belies a sense of ambition, of wanting to be a better surfer.

The fact is, the greater percentage of us are bog standard surfers. In our moments of self-awareness we know this, yet we want to improve. So what can be done?

The most obvious thing is to work on equipment, but that comes with its own pitfalls. How do you find out what you need? The internet is a minefield of misinformation, it can't be trusted, but fortunately surfing is blessed with oracles. There's a few in every surf town.

Covered in foam dust, with peculiar quirks, a good shaper can answer the questions you didn't even know to ask. They can reach deeper into the mystery of surfing, make sense of the magic and send you on your way.

A good relationship with a shaper will enrich your surfing life in ways you can't comprehend, but even a casual chat with a shaper is to be valued.

The following article is aimed at the intermediate surfer, the average surfer, the bog standard surfer - but one who wants to get better.

Click the links to connect with the shapers or hunt down your own hometown oracle. 

A bog standard surfer walks through your door wanting to order a custom board. How does your conversation begin?

Parrish Byrne: I'll tell them to bring in the board they're riding now, that way I've got a benchmark or a gauge where I can see what they've been riding and assess what they need. I'll also have a talk about weight and ability too.
Corey Graham: I ask them their height, weight, the length of time they've been surfing for, and I also ask them to bring their current board in. We don't actually talk about surfing at that point.
Chris Garrett: I can guess weight and height if they're in front of me, so I just want to know the dimensions of their current board, or even better if they bring it in.
Jye Byrnes:  The main thing is always to find out what they're currently riding. Then we'll talk about experience, and also what they want from a new board.
Stuart Paterson: If they're standing in front of me I've got an idea about weight and body size, so I ask them about what kind of surfing they want to do. Is it WSL or old school surfing, or maybe it's longboarding? What do they aspire to do?

Pato puts the finishing touches on a custom mid-length (Photo Rielly the Sander)

Surfing is hard to describe. How much do you take what a customer says literally and how much do you read between the lines?

Jye Byrnes: It is hard. I don't want to disregard what a customer says. My job is to make custom boards so if I'm not listening to the customer, I'm not doing my job. But at the same time they want to hear my expertise, so I just get a good two-way conversation happening.
Corey Graham: I don't expect the customer to really know anything. It's my job to ask the right questions.
Stuart Paterson: I take what any customer says at face value, though occasionally a red flag might be waved, but I'll take that on a person-to-person basis. Fact is, even when people are talking it up they're giving me an idea about what they want.
Chris Garrett: I can generally gauge if a person is a little bit over-enthusiastic of their ability. With kids, I find when they're having problems and they're at that inquiry stage then they're quite honest and open. It's good advice for older surfers too.
Parrish Byrne: If it's a local surfer, I probably know how they surf, but if not I can usually pick up on their ability. I'd ask any board buyer to be as truthful as possible. It's the quickest way to getting a good board.

Son of Phil, named after a Hawaiian great, Parrish Byrne is rich in pedigree and choc full o' knowledge

Bog standard surfers are generally pointed towards boards with higher volume and lower rocker. Are there any other considerations?

Chris Garrett: Volume isn't just volume - it's where you put it. Width is a really underrated thing, because you don't fall off the nose or the tail, you generally fall off the side so lateral width is very important. And the thickness under the back foot is quite important for an intermediate surfer too because they need that support through turns.
Stuart Paterson: There's always an option for going longer.
Jye Byrnes: Volume is a marketing term. A label. It distorts what surfers really need. I'd rather discuss length and width and where the curves are placed.
Parrish Byrne: Foam is your friend, 'cos if you're not catching waves you're not surfing, so I point them towards higher volume boards. The trick is where that volume gets placed.
Corey Graham: Yeah, there are. For instance, I think it's a matter of matching the board to the person's shape, even down to the size of their feet, because that gives them leverage over the board. So if they go too short, flat, and wide, they've got a really huge foot, it's still too responsive.

"Every block of stone has a statue inside it" Corey contemplates the next block of foam and what's inside it (Photo Mark de Koning)

Do materials matter?

Parrish Byrne: They do if it's a bigger guy. I feel like for bigger guys, that epoxy/EPS really helps them. A guy that's going to ride say 6'6" x 21" wide x 3" thick is going to get a board that's bit weighty and a bit heavy to surf. Therefore, you can always go a bit thinner and a bit smaller in dimensions with the EPS because you're going to get the flotation there.
Corey Graham: I think epoxy/EPS boards can be a little too light for intermediate surfers. They're user friendly, like getting them in and out of a car and down to the water, but once you're in the water they can be a little hard to manage. The inertia of a slightly heavier board can help smooth out their lines.
Chris Garrett: If the client wants it, then it matters. [But will materials such as epoxy/EPS help a less-skilled surfer?] Realistically, no, I don't think so.
Stuart Paterson: For performance, I don't think materials matter. But durability is important because people who are progressing fall more often and they're not experienced with the handling, so there's lots of different ways that the board could be damaged.
Jye Byrnes: On the performance side, epoxy/EPS can lack a bit of drive under an intermediate surfer's feet, because they're corky, they sit on top of the water and the rails won't dig. There's just less fuss with polyurethane, and it's a better performing board.

Jye hiding behind his handiwork - hates the camera, loves his customers

What is the best fin configuration for the bog standard surfer?

Stuart Paterson: Thruster. Thrusters allow you to turn from anywhere on the wave, and you can easily alter how your board goes by changing the fins.
Parrish Byrne: The Thruster is the best fin configuration. It gives drive and pivot which are the keys to improving.
Corey Graham: Single fin or Thruster. No need for the intricacies of twin fins or the turbo speed of quads.
Jye Byrnes: I make a lot of 2 + 1 boards, where people can surf more forward. They use the front foot to steer, and they tend to push a bit more on their front foot, so changing into a 2+1 setup gives you that easy sort of flow. That or Thruster set up.
Chris Garrett: Quad fins are good because you can just stand on them and they just go. No need to check turn them and do all that sort of stuff.

Making customs till the cows come home - Chris and the view from his shed (Photo Yuki)

Anything else the bog standard board buyer needs to know?

Chris Garrett: I ask lots of 'what and why' type questions, so customers need to get ready to answer!
Jye Byrnes: Be open to new ideas. You don't have to choose them, we'll go through the process together. At the least you'll learn something.
Corey Graham: I'd like to reiterate how important it is to see what they're currently riding. If they're having a hard time, then I need to see the board that's causing it.
Parrish Byrne: Being honest. I think that's the biggest part of getting a good board.
Stuart Paterson: Consider it like a business appraisal: Where do you see your surfing in one, two, or three years time?

Thanks to:

Stuart Paterson at PCC Surfboards
Parrish Byrne at Byrne Surfboards
Chris Garrett at Phantom Surfboards
Corey Graham Shapes
Jye Byrnes Surfboards

Comments

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:05pm

Good work. Classic the way crew overrate their ability.

And I say that as someone with JJF level skills .

Bnkref's picture
Bnkref's picture
Bnkref commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:08pm

Thanks Stu. I'm keen to hit up Corey Graham for a board before too long.

Budgiesmuggla's picture
Budgiesmuggla's picture
Budgiesmuggla commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:09pm

yeah... dont know about the others but had pretty average encounters with patto. Much better feedback, interactions and customer service from the local board shop.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:46pm

"A good relationship with a shaper will enrich your surfing life in ways you can't comprehend..."

When I wrote that line I had Pato firmly in mind. He's not effusive or bubbly, but he's genuine, and he's an exacting craftsman who's mastered a wide range of boards. More personally, he's shaped me more magic boards than one surfer should ever be entitled to in their lifetime.

I rode my first board from him nearly thirty years ago, and I moved away from Cronulla a long while ago, but wherever I went I always ordered boards from Pato because I hold him in very high regard.

I'm a bog standard surfer, he's a suburban shaper, but the relationship I have with Pato is the sort of thing I wish every surfer could experience. I guess it helps that I've known him so long.

Of course, not everyone's gonna get along but I hope you get the chance to develop a good friendship with whoever makes your boards.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:32pm

Funny when even shapers believe EPS sits above the water and is corky, how on earth does that work?

Surely if your board has too much floatation you just reduce volume?

If EPS really had that much more float that is was actually noticeable, it would be awesome, it would be a huge advantage you could actually ride boards with less volume, as volume is really just about paddling and catching waves, once up on a plane you generally don't need the floatation and volume unless waves are so gutless that you loose planning ability.

Skim boards are the perfect example of this.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:58pm

I think you're getting mixed up ID.

Displacement/volume can be the same for two different feeling boards.

IE just have hollow vessel, submerge it in the water and it will displace the same amount as if it had foam in it, cement in it etc, but... the force needed to keep it under water and the fight back against you would be different. If filled with cement no force, air lots of force.

This is where the corky feel comes from. Nick Miles X-core composite are the best I feel as it's a compromise and I don't notice anything corky about the EPS at all.

saltyheaven's picture
saltyheaven's picture
saltyheaven commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:19pm

This is something I've been arguing with people since the dawn of EPS cores.
Given the same total board volume and the same finished weight (ie more glass on the EPS board to offset the core being lighter) the 'corkyness' will be the same. The only possible difference that I can imagine is some variance in weight distribution throughout the structure.
Taking cement and air as examples is rather extreme as the finished weight of the board would be vastly different. How about 'glass' the air cored hypothetical board with lead sheet until it is the same weight as the cement board... which is more 'corky' then?

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:23pm

Bang on!

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:27pm

Bin fucken go!

For someone with a science background the whole "epoxy boards are more buoyant" thing is really grating.
1. Epoxy is a resin, not a foam.
2. Buoyancy is a function of weight and volume, i.e. density.
3. A 3kg 30L EPS/epoxy board is exactly as buoyant as a 3kg 30L PU/PE board.
4. Might very well feel totally different, though.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 7:07pm

100% Island Bay

And any difference felt is more likely about flex and rebound rates etc of both the blank and glass.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 7:50am

I've been making EPS/Epoxy boards for myself this year and I can report that they do feel different to ride. Not better or worse really, just different. I can't put my finger on it. I do a heavier glass job on the EPS boards so they end up the same weight as my PU boards. Same stringer. Not sure why there would be a difference. -It could be that I'm just crap at shaping though. Ha Ha!

Yendor's picture
Yendor's picture
Yendor commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 3:27pm

So with the EPS/ Epoxy boards you've got a lower density interior with a thicker layer of glass around the outside to get a board of the same weight as a PU/Polyester board. The nature of the way the EPS flexes and resonates will be different than the PU and the thicker shell will also have an impact, also the behaviour of the different resins will have an impact. I think when people talk about the corkiness of EPS/ Epoxy boards they are often referring to the chatter of the board, skiers will be familiar with this. I think EPS/epoxy boards have more chatter, that fast recycle flex feedback.

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 4:58pm

The actual weight difference is not actually that great between the two types of blanks. I’ve been using the densest EPS I can get my hands on. There’s only about 300 grams difference between the PU and the EPS once it’s shaped. My last board I used 6oz on got bottom instead of 4oz and the final weight was pretty similar to my PU boards.
At any rate, I reckon your theory on why the two materials feel different makes quite a bit of sense. It takes a little getting used to but like anytime you change something with your board it can be positive for your surfing if you’re prepared to keep an open mind.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:34pm

Rebound rates, flex and stiffness are influenced as much by stringers as anything else, not all EPS/Epoxy boards chatter or feel corky.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 7:02pm

@Craig

Im not exactly sure what you mean.

Two exact same boards that float at the same level when paddling are still going to float at the exact same level when ridding.

EPS doesnt magically float higher once up and ridding.

Personally i dont get the corky feeling thing, only corky feeling boards are boards that float too much be it EPS/Epoxy PU/PE etc

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 6:10pm

It's the vibe

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 4:27pm

That's goin' straight to the pool room!

Elliedog's picture
Elliedog's picture
Elliedog commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:46pm

Patto’s a legend. Making beautiful boards.

Luba

mickban's picture
mickban's picture
mickban commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 3:11pm

2nd that

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 4:56pm

yes I agree with indo. I was surprised about the epoxy surfboards being too floaty.
I was thinking of trying one. i really found the talk interesting, good one

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:34pm

I’m back on PU’s at the moment. Having said that, I reckon EPS boards are fantastic in waves head high and under.

I’m sure all will catch on at some point that PU/epoxy is the best overall.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 6:11pm

Agree. Have found same thing.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:38pm

Also, I thought this article would talk more about designs for the average guys, not just what the custom shaper will ask them.

chook's picture
chook's picture
chook commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:51pm

uuumm..isn't that the point of the article? talk to the shaper. there is no board for the average guy to point you to.

boxright's picture
boxright's picture
boxright commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:54pm

I'd rather hear about the custom shaping experience, which is fairly foreign to me, than read an advertorial of everyones latest models.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 8:54pm

I don’t want to see advertorial for board models. I want to see design elements - what do these shapers think is the best for the average surfer... rocker? Foil? Rails?

(Edit) - If you haven’t done the custom thing, it’s definitely worth giving it a go. I grew up with it being basically the only option

daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kahanamoku's picture
daisy duke kaha... commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 5:56pm

Four shapers suggest thrusters, one shaper suggests quads.

Guess which shaper is surrounded by pointbreaks?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 6:13pm

The one who also suggested a single fin?

abc-od's picture
abc-od's picture
abc-od commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 6:33pm

Point 1, talk to your shaper.

There is no point 2.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 8:47pm

Yeah I don’t agree with that. I’ve been getting customs for around 20 years and it’s so hit and miss. Sure, I’ve got some great boards but some are absolute duds. For example, I got a couple of customs last year at the same time. One is great, the other was well below average. To top it off, you can’t selI the board for anything near what you paid because it isn’t a “standard model” - there’s no demand.

Getting a stock board from an in-demand shaper is a much lower financial risk.

dustys's picture
dustys's picture
dustys commented Wednesday, 26 Jun 2019 at 5:25pm

Totally agree @Hazrus. There really are pros and cons to each approach. I shape and glass most of my own boards, but also buy a few models from the big brands. The benefit of the modern 'model' surfboard in most cases is iteration. A shaper / designer has developed something, then started testing and iterating until they are really happy with the model and know that it works in the conditions it is designed for. It's not necessarily suited well to you, but you can be pretty confident that it works in the right conditions for the target surfer.

Getting a custom is an enjoyable process, but much more hit and miss. You might get a magic board that works super well at your local, but you're also more likely (compared to buying an established model) to get a board that doesn't quite have it. I'm about 50/50, got some epic customs (including one from Corey) but also have a CI and a Mayhem that I love. IMHO, the real secret is getting repeat boards off the same shaper. When you can get a custom, surf it for 6 months then go back and dial it in with the same shaper is when you get the real value of the surfer / shaper relationship.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 7:11pm

eps core epoxy glassed boards feel and ride very differently which almost any intermediate or beyond surfer can feel.

whatever terms you use to describe that feeling and how accurate they are in terms of describing hydrostatic or hydrodynamic forces there is no escaping that fact.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 7:37pm

Correct, but buoyancy has nothing to do with it, if they weigh the same and have the same volume. And even if one is 500gr lighter, the weight of the board+surfer will make that difference negligible.

Different stiffness, different damping/vibration characteristics, different sound. Different feel.

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 7:46pm

It sure feels like buoyancy to me. Like FR, I dont care what it says in the textbook, the feeling, to me and others, is of lightness and corkiness.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 8:31pm

"I dont care what it says in the textbook" not gonna take the bait with that one lol. Seriously, though, Island Bay, maybe there is a difference in the moment of inertia between board constructions? Hence the difference in corkiness? This is something I have thought about a lot, and tinkering with could make huge differences in board performance. I think Tomo and Slater may have touched on it but not sure if they knew it was the moment of inertia specifically they were playing with. I think they referred to it as "board swing weight" or something to that effect.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 9:30pm

EPS feels less dampened to me. The PU absorbs chop far better in my experience... and it’s not just the stringerless EPS boards. The stringered EPS blanks have similar characteristics. I’ve had quite a few stringered EPS boards over the last 15 years (customs!!!!!) and love them in small stuff where chop is much less of an issue

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 10:12pm

IMHO you can't pigeon hole EPS/Epoxy into one thing EPS/Epoxy boards differ so much.

Almost all PU/PE boards are centre stringer with a similar glass job, slight variations in foam density, cloth, resins.

EPS/Epoxy boards can have no stringer, parabolic stringers, timber stringers, different materials used as stringers even rods to change flex etc

Then you have the different resins, different kind of glassing techniques, deck skins, composites, different inlays/skins like timber, Paulownia, Balsa, bamboo, then fibres like flax, hemp, even cork decks.

There is no stock standard the variables in construction and feel are huge.

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 10:29am

Hi Indo, I agree that they don’t all surf the same, however the ones I’ve tried have a similar corkiness which is mitigated to some degree by the variations in construction. I have tried:
Stringered EPS
Future flex
Carbon wrap
FireWire LFT

They all have their pros and cons. Carbon wrap was the worst for me. Too flexy

Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg's picture
Old Gregg commented Friday, 21 Jun 2019 at 10:01pm

I'm a bog standard surfer and after riding PU boards all my life funnily enough my latest board which is Epoxy is the best board I've ever had

morg's picture
morg's picture
morg commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 9:30am

The best thing about having that shaper relationship is that you know the next board will work. Some will be great, some not so much, but after a few boards and feedback you know it’s going to work. It’s kind of cool when all you need to worry about it what colour, tail, or no of fins you want because They’ll work out the rest. Definitely opens up the opportunity for experimenting too.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 9:58am

Good article. As most of us surf waves up to say 4 feet most of the time it would have been interesting to hear what those shapers thought about the sort of board the average joe ought to be on. My theory for what it’s worth is most of us are on boards with too much performance built in, more width, less nose rocker and good curve wouldn’t go astrayI’ve heard people say MRs boards are too 80s but his boards, using one shaper as an example, seem to get it right. I’m coming from the point that a good surf is one where you get a good number of waves rather than missing the better waves through lack of foam in the right places.

Another factor about a boards performance I think about a lot has nothing to do with the board at all. Surfer fitness, if your in good condition any board under your feet will surf better, how often do you hear guys complaining about a board and a sneaky look will see they are carrying a few kg? .... same goes for over weight guys riding hugely expensive carbon fibre bikes, mate if you’re thinking saving a few grams in weight on your bike will make it faster just think what dropping 10kgs will do?

Hazrus's picture
Hazrus's picture
Hazrus commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 10:25am

Now we’re talking design!

I agree about less nose rocker. In terms of tail rocker, that can go either way depending on how you surf IMHO. I personally like more tail rocker for waves over waist high.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 4:16pm

Doesn't happen much but something i agree with you on Guy.

Ive found body weight and fitness are huge to how a board goes and paddles.

I also think we even change as people and approach to waves etc and even boards we ride can change our surfing etc for example i love quads as fast and loose, but i honestly think my surfing has suffered from them, and i find it so hard to surf thrusters now, they feel stiff and slow, but i think i don't surf as top to bottom on quads.

Ive also had boards i thought were once magic and not ridden the for years and they are no longer what i thought they were..

I think the reason being is both physical and mental that I've changed, weight, fitness and maybe even mental approach etc

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 6:23pm

Completely agree. Wider nose, lower entry rocker with a bit of float through this area create a stable platform paddling in, wider tail area with rails thick enough to float the shoulders commonly encountered also helps this average joe. If the waves are hollow and excellent tail area comes in, and rails get more bladey.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:41pm

Yep, all about this.

P'tai's picture
P'tai's picture
P'tai commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 10:10am

A while ago I shaped myself a 5'8" quad fish. 20" wide and 2 5/8" thick. PU construction. Felt and went unreal.

Hadn't ridden it for quite a while, due to lifestyle changes I have lost 8 kg. Viola the board now felt "Corky" took a while to get used to it again, but when I fist jump in now it still feels corky!

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 10:38am

I liked the width discussion. I'm happy to admit I'm a crap surfer but slowly getting better. I seem to struggle lately on my 20"+ fish once it gets to 3 foot. Much more comfortable on my sub 20" 'performance' board as I'm slowly figuring out how to turn. Haven't got my head around rocker or bottom curves yet.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 11:36am

My theory on width is more width = more surface area = more drag = harder to paddle into waves. Retro width noses don't spear into waves as easily as pointier noses and really deep concaves and wider boards feel like they are sucking down as you paddle and only free up when things get steep, which is fine in good waves but suck ( pun intended ) in fatties

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 4:22pm

Interesting i don't find that at all, i find more the opposite wider boards with more foam forward under the chest i find much easier to paddle and catch waves that aren't too hollow etc

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 4:50pm

Yep wider boards with more foam do paddle well, but I find the width not the volume adds to the surface area and adds some drag when your trying to take off. Its at that fulcrum point of just tipping the board over the edge where I notice it. My narrower boards with wide point further back spear into waves easier and they duck dive better.
More foam under the chest is essential and to me doesn't mean it has to be just in wider nosed boards, a good shaper knows how to leave it in and even it out through the length of the board.
However that's just me, I've seen plenty of younger standup surfers taking off on what look like wide kneeboards, with no probs, and a lot of that would have to do with shear strength.

seen's picture
seen's picture
seen commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 10:35am

I want the volume in the middle, or even just backwards of centre, not forwards under the shoulders. Maybe that's partly my body shape. I'm starting to think about the board having to fulfill 3 functions - getting on the plane, planing/developing speed, and turning. The nose is about getting up onto the plane and into the wave, and so its all about balancing the competing needs of generating maximum lift while minimising swing weight and having a shape profile that avoids bogging. The middle of the board is about planing/speed generation/feeding water through, and the tail is about control of the speed and turning so you are looking at balancing grip/release with fins number and placement/plan size/tail shape/rocker. So at the moment I look for boards that have a slightly wider nose but carry concave forwards under the nose to create lift (which also thins the nose out) but then running down the board they get fatter putting more foam between the feet (under the belly and mid chest to below the nipples) with channels or concaves to pull the water quickly through, and then a tail depends on the waves/style of surfing. This gives a board with a flatter middle rocker and a more aggressive rail rocker. These boards paddle fine and get in well, despite being lower in "volume" esp if carrying reasonable length.
The more and more I look, surprise surprise, the more and more it gets closer to a modern thruster board, even though I really like riding smaller wider quads. If I choose a traditional shortboard with the above characteristics in a length/width that suits my surfing (not my ego and what I think my surfing should be) ie 2-4 inches longer, it often works out really well. I still love my short fat wide quad fish, and a good single, but they are a different thing with design limitations and I ride them for the feeling those limitations give you.

EDIT: I am average on a good day, but I am fascinated by design and really try to feel out a board and what it is doing in different situations. Like a lot of people, my opinion is probably bullshit, but I'm just trying to articulate what I feel and what feels good to me!! Going fast feels especially good.

gcuts's picture
gcuts's picture
gcuts commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 10:12am

@Ash ... go spend some time reading on swaylocks. And, while you're at it, check out the width on the boards the big wave paddle guys are using.

Ash's picture
Ash's picture
Ash commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 12:32pm

Had a quick look at swaylocks, and there's a lot to read and digest there, it'll take me months. As an after thought all I had to say was that I prefer sleek missiles over fat biscuits. Big wave boards are right out of my league ( thankfully ) my biggest being 6'10", so I'm coming at it from a short board and small to mid sized wave personal point of view. I love the huge variety of boards that abound today, it's constant cause for thought and carpark discussions.

kushala's picture
kushala's picture
kushala commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 12:22pm

I really appreciate this discussion on relative materials characteristics. I'm also a bog standard surfer, and am finding the EPS boards I've been riding have been great for me - and that is a function of shape and volume, as much as the base materials, I reckon. One thing that I find is missing from these conversations in general when we talk about materials, is relative toxicity and sustainability. Whilst I think that there is probably still no such thing as a truly environmentally friendly surfboard (maybe with the exception of handmade hollow wooden boards), it is certainly true that an EPS board using bio entropy resin and deck skins of either sustainably grown bamboo or paulownia, is orders of magnitude less toxic than the traditional PU/PE board. I would think that this fact alone would indicate that the days of PU/PE boards are ultimately numbered - whether that be sooner or later. I am sure that further development can ensure that more eco friendly boards can match or out perform the PU/PE materials, and certainly offer a much more durable board. Thoughts?

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 6:30pm

Largely agree. Constructing this type of much greener board took about 4x longer initially for us. Float and feeling in the water are completely different, and in some ways a revelation.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 1:42pm

Possibly.

seen that dream come and go many times.

full vac bagged bamboo boards were in business and went out of business 20 year ago.

Likewise hemp.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 2:15pm

Thanks Ash, I didn't know that about concaves as I always made my boards with lots of V with nose and tail lift.. I think length and volume comes into it when you get older or have a bad injury. I am speaking from experience. I have been using twin fins for over 10 years and find them it be excellent for slow waves , All the waves I surf are reef breaks. I have one board and it does everything. I wish the shapers would have talked about board shapes as boards all look the same to me. cheers

craigini's picture
craigini's picture
craigini commented Saturday, 22 Jun 2019 at 9:18pm

The internet has screwed everything.
Everyone talks so much shit they wouldn't in a face to face conversation.
Fuck off keyboard worriers, you are all full of shit.
And anytime anywhere I will tell you that to your face!

PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 8:27am

Styrofoam should be banned in surfboard production !!!!!!!!!!
EPS cells are open ...just like a sponge , XPS (extruded polystyrene foam ) is closed ,
Back in 1989 we started experimenting with EPS / Epoxy resin surfboard production and quickly noted its limitations . We then moved to XPS and the only advantage with this foam is it does not soak up water where the lamination is "open" (dings/cracks/pinholes) etc.
The best foam for surfboard production and the enviroment is still PU . Get a beautifully shaped PU blank from your favoured local shaper , have him/her wrap it in an epoxy of polyester glassjob and enjoy it .
Polystyrene foam use should be limited to SUP/WINDSURFER/PADDLEBOARDS only .
I could rant on about this for hours . For newcomers , surfboard production techniques are a minefield of deception and hype. Some people making boards don't even know what they are dealing with , The misconception that EPOXY resin being enviromentally better is another myth . Many a shipwright or boatbuilder knows the bad side of EPOXY dust , careers cut short etc.
Polystyrene , just don't do it .

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 9:42am

Initially i worried about the EPS sucking water thing after about 10+ EPS boards never had one issue because only open dings ive ever had have been tiny and happened out of the water so easily sealed before getting wet.

I honestly had more issues with PU/PE and water because it being so easy to get open dings or shatters, cracks at first you fix them, but as a board gets older you then you get lazy put a put a bit tape on them wth the idea of fixing latter or dont even bother if small cracks and then you get yellowing of foam etc.

IMHO the real advantage of EPS is its memory, it has excellent memory so keeps that lively feeling, go press a piece of EPS and it rebounds to shape, go press a Poly blank and we all know it stays more indented. (the extreme example of this is that poly foam that they use for flower displays etc)

Over time as boards flex Polyurethane cells gets crushed EPS doesn't hence why EPS boards still retain that lively feeling for years and PU/PE boards loose that lively feel.

Possibly resin is also a factor correct me if I'm wrong but i believe Epoxy once cured is cured, while polystyrene continues to cure and eventually go more brittle with age.

I think the environmentally friendly aspect of EPS is over sold, but it is still possible to make blanks with a decent percentage of EPS grids etc ENVIRO-FOAM blanks are made with 25% recycled product.

Is it possible to create a Polyurethane blank with recycled materials?

In regard to epoxy resins, i think you should do a bit of research into Bio-resins the area is fast developing this article is old 2011 but still a good read https://www.compositesworld.com/articles/green-resins-growng-up

1989 was 30 years ago a lot has changed since then.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 9:00pm

Indo UCSD made an entire PU blank out of algae sourced 'bio-oil', start to finish.

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:36pm

Cool thats step in the right direction.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:49pm

Very interesting and probably why my board, surfed nearly daily since August 17 is still going more than strong! Maintaining that memory.

Never had any other board do this.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 4:03pm

Yeah what Indo was saying about the EPS and it's memory is very interesting! I'm curious to try one. I have a habit of doing knee compressions on one rail side only, would love to avoid this as much as possible. To clarify Indo, by EPS do you mean 'extruded styrofoam' which I assume is same meant by Peter with 'XPS'?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 9:40am

Rooster just finished a custom order with Flax inlay
Be good to interview this legend Stu..Epoxy specialist - Rooster Brand

No Manbuns there....custom shapes.. tatts n ciggies harleys and beer..

PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan's picture
PCS PeterPan commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 10:04am

Indo , you are a rare individual . So many surfers don't look after their boards . By the sound of it , you look after them . Styro/epoxy vs poly is a personal thing . If you love your EPS , well no matter what I say won't change that opinion .
I'm just over the whole argument of EPS this EPS that , and then cutting open
certain manufacturers boards and seeing and touching the foam all discoloured , the board is dead etc etc.
Just sayin !

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 1:53pm

I dont really look after my boards.

That's the main reason i started riding EPS/Epoxy i wanted more durability if you get a good Epoxy composite construction you can easily get 2 to 3 times more durability than a standard PU/PE board.

But there is other EPS/Epoxy constructions that id say are no more durable than standard PU/PE board, personally i dont buy them, well i have but once ive realised they are not that durable ive sold them.

gcuts's picture
gcuts's picture
gcuts commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 10:02am

I'm surprised all the shapers interviewed only wanted to look at the current board the customer is riding. Surely a bit of history, and hell, since most of us have a few boards, they should all be discussed with feedback / interaction from the 'shaper' to get to know what works for the customer?

And, none of the mentioned they ask about the waves surfed, or locations surfed?

Hmmm.

Having a good relationship with a shaper will largely depend on the shaper ... if THEY want to spend the time with you, to discuss ideas, concepts, feedback... HONESTLY. This will then be tested when you get a board you do not like ... will they make you a new one at their cost? Or fob it off as YOUR issue?

Yes, this takes time. Yes, the shaper needs to invest this time. Hell, it's probably the biggest competitive advantage a 'custom' shaper has over the 'off the rack', retail showroom competition. If they don't invest the time to know their new, potentially long term customer, then they shouldn't complain about the 'off the rack' or 'pop out' made products and competition.

Me and many of my mates have trusted shapers over the years and been treated like shit. Boards don't work, or damage easily and the shaper fobs you off. Hit and miss boards too, some good and great, other dogs. But, shaper blames customer. Not surprising that most of them have gone out of business, and those who are still in business, have moved.

I got my first 'shaper' custom in 1975. Haven't had one since 2010 due to the BS and 'fob off' mentality of the 'custom' shaper. Wish I could find a good 'custom' shaper.

Budgiesmuggla's picture
Budgiesmuggla's picture
Budgiesmuggla commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 4:02pm

Your last four paragraphs are the experience myself and most folks I've spoken to have had with pato.

Oink's picture
Oink's picture
Oink commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 10:27am

Buoyancy is key for the bog standard to enable us to catch waves.

But what about the trade-off in duck diving? I've got a 42L and I really struggle getting out there in decent swell

I'd like to know if there is a better design i.e. length/width versus thickness that would enable me to paddle into waves easier without having to submerge this massive chunk of foam when paddling out

Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 11:25am

It is easy to put the responsibility on the shaper when they often have very little information to work with. You really need to put in some time yourself to think carefully about the boards you have, to look at what is available, talk to your mates etc. The most common mistake I see is people riding boards with the wrong dimensions, too short, too long, too much volume, too little volume. If you know what dimensions suit you for the waves you commonly ride, it should be pretty easy to get a good board from an experienced shaper. Yes, the curves matter but they are not much help if the basics are not right.

Oink's picture
Oink's picture
Oink commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 2:10pm

"If you know what dimensions suit you for the waves you commonly ride" if I knew what worked I wouldn't be reading this article

Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 6:06pm

Fair enough oink. It sounds like you need to have a good look around at what boards might suit you. I have a mate who surfs boards in that volume range and he seems to manage OK. He surfs fairly standard thrusters around 7ft with the extra volume distributed between the width and thickness. It goes without saying that wide rounded noses make diving harder. For the best results I think you should do what the article suggests. Take your board to a local shaper (or good surf shop) and discuss your needs with them.

Fliplid's picture
Fliplid's picture
Fliplid commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 2:45pm

Oink, have you asked a shaper that question

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 3:01pm

I know what boards work for me and I am still reading this article. I have the perfect board for me and I want to copy it. but living in W.A. who can do it?

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Sunday, 23 Jun 2019 at 6:44pm

Can highly recommend Wayne Webster in Ballina.

I rocked up with my shorty and step-up in tow to give him an idea what I was riding.
Told him what I did and didn't like about each of them.

Webby took measurements off both boards and also got out some of his templates as well and laid them over my boards to get further ideas.

He then got on to his computer and brought up a program and started to fiddle with details.
The whole process must have taken at least and hour and the end result is the best short board I've ever had.
As a bonus, at no stage did I feel patronised or as if anything was a hassle.

Thumbs up, and I'll be going in tomorrow to see him for another.

Reefeater's picture
Reefeater's picture
Reefeater commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 1:07pm

I'll second Webby. Plenty of patience and I've never felt like your being hurried up to get an order in the system. I've even had him contact me to see how a board went couple months after receiving it. I like a shaper who is comfortable to disagree with what I think, if he thinks it's not the right way to go.

yahabo's picture
yahabo's picture
yahabo commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 2:18pm

Question, does anyone in Australia offer boards with Varial foam construction. My understanding is that Varial is closed cell, so if you ding it, it doesnt' soak up water as much as EPS. Is any of that true? Advice appreciated.

brutus's picture
brutus's picture
brutus commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 1:07pm

I use varial in the USA , pretty smelly to shape , very expensive stringerless blank 4 x the price of a PU , and about 10 times more expensive than EPS...
The are stringerless , and can be glassed in Polyester or epoxy....they have an incredible infusion glassing process , bullet proof!

OHV500's picture
OHV500's picture
OHV500 commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 2:45pm

Ive been with the same designer/shaper for 40+ years - never had a dud. Have tried a few other guys, but always something lacking. Maybe I'm just too used to the way he shapes, and maybe he knows how I surf. An ongoing relationship is the things your after.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:01pm

Yahabo, speaking of Wayne Webster, I know he has shaped a few with Varial.
Not sure on the status of that, but it wouldn't hurt to send him an email or phone call.

Varial is not EPS.

Also had some really good customs from Wayne and the process of getting a board off him could not be easier.

OllieB's picture
OllieB's picture
OllieB commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 3:13pm

I'm no expert on boards or design for that matter.

Does anyone know if shapers take into account actual body density/shape?

I do not mean just 'what is the surfer's weight in kg'. I mean, is the surfer top, or bottom heavy. Do they have a long torso or short legs...

Surely these attribute would make a massive difference to how a board planes when paddling.

Just a thought, any feedback would be greatly appreciated.

O

brutus's picture
brutus's picture
brutus commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 1:10pm

Yep , there are the chunky monkeys...and the bean poles , 2 different designs for each...one has lower rocker and fins a touch more fwd , and the other has more rocker and fins back a tad...very good question!

AndyM's picture
AndyM's picture
AndyM commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 4:23pm

Some shapers have state of the art scales that calculate your BMI, bone density and whether you might be susceptible to outbreaks of herpes.

spenda's picture
spenda's picture
spenda commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 4:45pm

Surf coaching had far greater impact on my surfing enjoyment than finding the perfect stick. If a custom had that same impact I'd give a custom a crack. Catch 22, need to try to see.

the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn's picture
the-u-turn commented Monday, 24 Jun 2019 at 5:30pm

What an important, and hugely relevant, article. The overwhelming majority of us are, standard.

I'm a supporter of 'your local shaper' - give them the opportunity to earn your trust, your respect and your dollar. If they don't then look elsewhere.

When I moved to my local beach one shaper got a ton of the business, and nearly 20yrs on remains busy. He's there in the water, watching, observing, chatting and not pushing product. A good local shaper want's to develop a customer base and they can only do so if you, the customer, feel valued and a unique individual. They get to know you and ensure that the board beneath your feet gets you into the wave and, hopefully, keeps you on it.

The U Turn
...a little Aloha goes a long way.

Mutius's picture
Mutius's picture
Mutius commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 8:10am

Great article and there should be more of them! As a bog standard surfer who has gotten a couple of customs there's something special about sitting down with a shaper and figuring out what you need as opposed to what you want.

It'd be unreal if I could rip on a toothpick but it's never going to happen. To sit down and have someone show you where the foam should go - on a board that's going to maximise your wave count - is invaluable.

It is all about your relationship with whoever is going to make your board. If they see you as a number then move on. If you're honest with them and in turn they're genuinely stoked to further your surfing then you're onto a winner. Not every board is going to be magic but if you have someone you trust then the journey towards that magic board is well worth it.

I'm lucky enough to have gotten a couple of boards from Chris and the process makes the final product amazing. Sitting down and having a chat about where you're at and then where you want this board to take you is something every surfer should experience; a little bit of individuality back in surfing instead of being pulled behind whatever is marketable at the time.

At the end of the day boards aren't cheap - either off the rack or from a shaper - but I'm no longer going to invest in boards that I realistically won't be able to enjoy. On any given day I think there is only a small percentage of people on the right equipment for the conditions AND their ability level. I dont think it's a coincidence that it's usually this small percentage that are getting most of the waves.

Goodwolf's picture
Goodwolf's picture
Goodwolf commented Friday, 28 Jun 2019 at 4:23pm

Nicely stated, Mutius.

Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 8:38am

I am surprised at the emphasis on wave catching in the discussion. In my view there is always a trade off between wave catching and performance and the further a surfer goes towards wave catching, the easier the shaper's job. Yeh it's nice to have a high wave count but it's much nicer to come in happy with the way you surfed the waves you actually got.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 8:42am

True, but if you're still learning the ropes and learning to cut back, do top turns etc, the more waves you get and attempts at each manoeuvre the faster and better you'll improve. Instead of sitting there waiting all surf for 2 waves and then falling off..

Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness's picture
Laurie McGinness commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 8:52am

Shouldn't a bog standard surfer be further down the learning curve? Otherwise I suppose the question then is when to make the jump to more demanding equipment and that probably has a lot to do with age ...... and ambition.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 8:54am

Yes, got me there.

wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas's picture
wiseautogas commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 9:11am

that is where a quiver comes in handy, surfing in boardies, or a 4mm wetsuit with boots, as you age you have good days and not so good days,
volume is your friend then

john wise

bjfitzhenry's picture
bjfitzhenry's picture
bjfitzhenry commented Tuesday, 25 Jun 2019 at 12:19pm

If you are a bit keen on advancing your shaping knowledge, download www.akushaper.com/ (or any similar ones).. Some are free to use.
Measure up your existing board and enter it in.

Common Tata's picture
Common Tata's picture
Common Tata commented Friday, 28 Jun 2019 at 7:37am

I have 2 boards of exactly the same shape, 1 PU the other EPS, the EPS was a custom order and has 4x4x4 x4
Glassing, both boards weigh the same.
Reason I went this way was the PU which is a favourite was totally hammered after 6 months, in fact 2 of them alternating depending on conditions, so like so many others I wanted a more durable board.
So hear are my personal findings.
Floatation, paddling the EPS definitely is easy, yes more buoyant and easier to get into waves.
Yes the EPS sits higher in the water seems a little smoother and climbs foam sections with ease. Definitely not as much rail in the water throughout turns.
Also the EPS surfs best in glassy 1-4ft range.
The PU handles bumpier conditions better and handles 4'+ conditions it doesn't climb the foam as smooth as the EPS and is not as fast in small glassy conditions however it is way more responsive to critical rail changes throughout turns. I find both are magic boards in different ways. The only dilemma I face is which one I want to surf on any given day. Structurally the EPS cracks more so than dings and has no dimpled deck after a few months of surfing. The PU's deck has caved in back foot area and some after same period.
Conclusion, both are great boards but for a few extra bucks the EPS wins for durability and the PU handles bigger surf better. Horses for courses really.

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous commented Friday, 28 Jun 2019 at 10:14am

Board advice for bog standard surfer: make your own, surf it, refine it - talk to your shaper through the whole experience. My father's uncle used to beat MP in competition. That is until MP started producing better and better surfboards. Eventually MP was making influential and revolutionary designs. Why was he unbeatable? Because his equipment was far beyond what everybody else rides.

All the best surfers shape their own boards. The best boards are tailored to the individual -who knows you better then you?

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Saturday, 29 Jun 2019 at 8:04am

"All the best surfers shape their own boards" I think this might have been the case in the 70's and 80's, but not so much today.

barreldogs's picture
barreldogs's picture
barreldogs commented Sunday, 30 Jun 2019 at 7:44pm

Funny, I used to have a great relationship with my local shaper. Last time I got two boards off him at the same time, short board and step up. When I went in to pick them up I instantly fell in love with the short board, but as soon as I looked at the step up, I kinda went hmmmmm, not too sure about this one. His response was "yeah, I kinda thought the same". Never been back, and have been buying boards off the rack ever since. I'm talking about a shaper with more than 15 years of relationship with. Sigh.

barreldogs's picture
barreldogs's picture
barreldogs commented Sunday, 30 Jun 2019 at 7:45pm

Funny, I used to have a great relationship with my local shaper. Last time I got two boards off him at the same time, short board and step up. When I went in to pick them up I instantly fell in love with the short board, but as soon as I looked at the step up, I kinda went hmmmmm, not too sure about this one. His response was "yeah, I kinda thought the same". Never been back, and have been buying boards off the rack ever since. I'm talking about a shaper with more than 15 years of relationship with. Sigh.

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