The WSL’s Longboard Tour Director gives a sublime demonstration of his two favoured board styles.
About a year before the current pandemic put a stop to competitive surfing across the globe, Devon Howard stepped into the role of Longboard Tour Director at the WSL. His mission was to revamp the whole show from tail to nose, including a badly dated judging criteria, and bring competitive long boarding up to speed with what was actually happening within the movement outside of the contest arena. They couldn’t have appointed a better person to do so. And thanks to Devon’s changes the longboard tour enjoyed one of its most successful years in history.
For those that know Devon outside his WSL position, his success came as no surprise. He is an extremely talented surfer with a deep knowledge of both surfing history and surfboard design, and when someone with that authenticity is at the helm you’re in good hands.
In this wonderful and well-executed clip by Drew Miller, Devon is captured during a handful of sessions, alternating between his two crafts of choice. Boards he says have taken him “a few decades of goofing off in the surf” to work out as his favourites.
“I’ve whittled down what I ride most into two distinct camps—both of which are an obvious extension of the waves, culture and characters where I’ve lived all these years,” says Devon.
“For the cruisey, under shoulder high days (which there are many), I find classic style single-fin longboards (9’9 to 10’) with a '66 Australian bent are hard to beat. When conditions finally push shoulder high on up to double overhead, my plan shapes dip down a few feet to a range of mostly egg-inspired outlines (6’10 - 7’2”), and the rails, bottom contours and fin set-ups take on a much more revved up form.
“I dig how these two design groupings allow an easy transition from one to the next (thank you low rocker and generous volume), but offer discernible shifts in speed, accessibility to different parts of the wave, and maximize the available space on the face.
“There is absolutely nothing new here in terms of a "horses for courses" approach (thank you Nat Young, Skip Frye, etc), but although well into my mid 40s, I’m still passionate about learning what works, what doesn’t, then plugging that back into the never ending design loop. The stoke for staying on the surf prowl explains why the boards and the ride itself just keeps getting better.”