For most of us, it doesn't happen often.
It was time. After a few years of scrimping and saving, spending money on the kids, it was time to go out and order a new board. It was to be a custom order, to my specifications, my dimensions and my design.
I ordered something pretty simple. Clean lines, a little bit of extra foam under the chest, a little bit of colour on the edges, nicely tapered rails.
When the board was finished I was too busy to go and pick it up. Seriously, that busy. Eventually it was dropped off at my house, and I got to see and feel it for the first time.
In the time - honoured tradition of getting a new board, I went through the rigmarole of inspecting it, pretending I knew what I was doing. I looked down the rail, I turned the board over and examined the bottom, and I lifted it up and peered down the stringer. None of it meant much to me, but I had seen people do those movements before, so they therefor must have necessity.
The most important aspect of a board however, is not the vee or the rocker or the volume or the tail shape. No, it’s all about how the board feels when you pick it up and hold it under in your arm. A quick shrug or two under your armpit, and a swap over from right arm to left and back again, and you’re going to know. It’s going to either be ‘this feels really good,’ or ‘mmm, not sure….’
It’s like after enough surfing years and after a certain amount of new boards, or board assessments, all it takes is that feeling, that weight to length to thickness ratio that permeates when a surfer holds a board under his or her arm for the first time, to know if its going to go or not. That first initial feeling, that first vibe that the board permeates, dictates a good percentage of whether the board is going to go for you or not.
If the innate decision is made that the board feels good, then the first surf on it already has a good chance of being great. Paddle out with positivism and excitement, and you’re going to mentally veil a few little irregularities that it might have, a rail bog or a little drift. However, if that board didn’t feel good under the arm, then those same irregularities will be magnified exponentially, marring the board and possibly turning you right off it for good.
You can bring out the tape measure, you can check the board file and check the volume calculator and examine the rocker until you are absolutely certain that the board is exactly what you wanted and therefor should really go for you, but if it doesn't have that special feel under the arm the first time you pick it up and hold it, then you might as well not even ride it, because you’ll be ultimately wasting your time.
My new board felt so good. A little bit wider in the nose than had anticipated, and a little bit flatter under the chest than I had expected, but if anything these two factors made it feel even better.
The hard work was done. The board was going to fly. It was time to go surf.