“Style is a natural extension of who you are as a person," said the great Mark Richards. 

Now this is a man who at his height could sport a silver wetsuit and a matching Porsche, and still remain down to earth. Now style isn’t everything, but it sure does help. And often its the things that you shouldn’t do, rather than the things you should, that can make the difference. Here’s a just a few of style danger signs. Stay away from these clangers and you should just be about okay. 

Fins First 

Carrying your board fins first just looks unnatural. And like masturbating over a donkey, unnatural isn’t always good. A small percentage of the population will disagree with me, not so much about the donkeys, but about the fins. They will argue that walking down the beach fins first is both normal and acceptable. It is neither and a sign that their style is backward and that their personality slightly skewed towards the awkward and the inelegant. Keep the fins at the back and, while we are at it the, waxed side of the board facing away from the body and you should be okay. At least until you the enter the water. 

 

Unwaxed area between tail pad and front foot

“The Horror! The Horror.” Nope this isn’t a reference to Heart of Darkness’ distilled narrative of the complex exploration of the barbarian versus a civilized society and the relationship between colonialism and racism, but is a reference to the shiny, horrific bald patch that misguided souls have on their boards when they don’t wax the area between the tailpad and their front foot. It is an affront to surfing and an affront to good style. It may be preferable to scratch “Kook” into your forehead with a compass then drip permanent salted dye into the wound. As the narrator in Joseph Conrad’s novel says about the practice. “A taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse.” 

 

Leashes on land

Like scuba diving, bucket bongs and Gabriel Medina, some things only work with water. Leashes are one such utility. No one will ever question the use of leashes in the surf, problems arise however when some surfers decide to wear them on land. Unless you are expecting a sudden tsunami on the way to the paddle out, there’s no need to attach the leash until you hit the high tide mark. Walking down the beach, or back from a surf with a leash attached signals a lack of faculty and a lack of style. It will also often result in you going head over turkey, damaging yourself, your board and your ego in one foul swoop. 

 

GoPro mount on board 

Is there anything less stylish looking than a surfboard with a GoPro mount? I’m not sure why a little white plastic mount can turn an average looking surfboard into shit on a stick, all I know is that it does. Whether it’s stuck on the nose for the classic look back angle, or behind the backfoot has no bearing, it still just looks... wrong. The only time a Go Pro mount is acceptable is if it is affixed to a 11’3” quad made for 53-foot Jaws (like Kai Lenny below), or a 5’6” tow board designed for the right at Chopes. Otherwise that mount is simply bringing you, and everyone associated with you, down. 

 

30-year-old plus men dressed as a 15-year-old groms

As a rule, anyone over 30 should never look as if your mother had a say in the outfit you are wearing. If you are boasting a complete ensemble that is being worn by a grommet half your age, you have to question both your style and your future. That goes double if you are wearing an oversized baseball cap. That goes triple if you have tucked your ears into that outsized baseball cap. 

(Hamish Bowles, Editor Vogue USA)

Kicking when paddling

Kicking when paddling is just plain uncool. It creates splash and friction and (newsflash kickers!) it doesn’t make you paddle any faster, or catch waves any quicker. I had a good mate who used to kick so ferociously that the lineup would be splattered with his violent kickspray every time he went for a wave. It got to the point in a relatively crowded lineup in Nias when the embarrassment and irritation proved too much. I had to end our friendship. I miss him, but not the kicking.