Need a new board for the southern hemi winter? Here’s some advice I gleaned from a few foam-mowing, shaping machine-savvy pals of mine of late.

Trust your shaper

If you don’t have faith in your shaper, then don’t order a board from him. You must be comfortable in the fact that he (or she) is either going to make you a) a very fine board or b) the best board you have ever ridden. If there are doubts in your mind as to either of those two, that there might be a third option, of an ok board or something, then best you move on down the line and don't waste your time.

Try a pintail or rounded pin tail.

They are tried and tested, they force you to draw cleaner lines, and they can be ridden in bigger stuff, as well as when the beachie is kinda crumbly and not quite there. Just don’t go too heavy on the glass, as a pintail is nice and squirty in smaller stuff if it is a bit lighter. Having said that, if it’s booming, a pintail is the best board to have if you’re under-gunned as well.

Kelly waxing up his rounded pin for a joust at Pipeline. Photo: WSL Cestari

Be open minded

There is enough stuff out there right now in the surfboard design realm, for you to find something that you least expected working for you. Right now there are a number of people, who I least expected, absolutely loving it on the Rob Machado Go Fish Firewire model. People who I didn't expect to see on twinnies are riding and digging them, cruising at solid J-Bay and having fun. Those guys are all pretty minted, not all can afford to take a chance on a Firewire twinnie. However most shapers are producing a twinny or retro models with modern features. Don't be afraid to try something that is way out of your comfort range. You never know.


Try glass – on fins again

There’s a thing. How few boards these days have glass-ons? I have one board in the garage that has glass-ons, and it’s a collector’s item, literally. If you’re just surfing the spot down the road and you’re not really a fin aficionado and swapping them out and trying new stuff after every session, then try a set of glass-ons and see if you can feel the difference (clue: it’s mainly the speed).

Beef up

This has been said so many times it’s crazy, but Matt Biolos has been much-discussing the 40-liter conundrum, of finding enough performance elements in a small board at 40 liters. Answer, it can be done. You can get 40 liters into a pretty small board and still sink a rail if you have to. Have a look at the …Lost El Patron, which is his favourite board. 

Back off

If you have a good thing going, let your shaper run with it. He has probably seen you surfing and knows what you need more than you do, even if you think you know more. He’ll be able to work around the fact that you don't surf like Jordy, and probably surf more like his dad Graeme (still rips), and make your board accordingly. If you button down the dims too specifically, he (or she) is not going to have enough room to move to build your dream shooter, so leave some space for experimentation.

Get some colour

It’s ok these days to get a bit of colour in your board. We have all moved on from the black wetsuit/white surfboard minimalism that was so cool a while ago, and there’s now nothing wrong with a splash of colour here and there. No need to draw a Technicolor dreamcoat on the underside of your board, but a little bit of colour is refreshing and different, and can be cool.

Colourful fish by Cronulla shaper, Stuart Paterson.

Don't go too short.

If you need to get a certain amount of volume in your board, it’s ok to add an extra inch or two on. Even if you don't need to add extra volume, an inch extra is pretty cool. If you’re not sure, do a Google video search on Kelly and Andy, or Brendan Margison surfing in their prime, and check out what a bit of length can do for your riding. Longer = smoother turns and cleaner lines, and everyone wants to be smooth and clean.