Buying a new board is the thing a surfer lives for, and better yet, ordering a custom surfboard! We’re a curious group us surfers… we’re always looking for new ways to skin a cat. When we see the latest design, we feel lost until we’ve ridden one. Sometimes we’re patient enough to borrow a board from a friend, something similar to what we’re thinking we want, sometimes we’re not. Either way, the first session on a new design or a board of a different length, width or thickness, can be trying. I’ve seen surfer’s right off a board they thought was going to be the next great thing in their life after only one or two uncomfortable sessions?
Here’s my take on the relationship between you and your surfboard.
Regardless of your skill set or experience, when you ride a surfboard you’re making adjustments each time you ride it, you’re growing accustomed to that particular board and as this happens you build a confidence in it, it becomes your default setting, your norm… Once you reach this point with a particular board, anything else you attempt to ride is going to feel different, possibly even unsettling.
Yes, these are “feelings” I’m talking about, surfing is a feel activity. What I mean by this is, your senses take over while you’re surfing. You have to feel the board under your feet, you have to feel where the speed in the wave is, you have to feel the timing of a maneuver, placing the right turn in the right spot at the right time… and if you’re out of time you feel it. When things are clicking, these feelings are second to none, but when they’re not, it can be frustrating to say the least. So, we look for that familiar feeling in a new board, sometimes it’s there from the first ride, usually this happens when you ride the same design in the same dimensions shaped by the same shaper for a period of time, but sometimes, it doesn’t. So what if you’re the adventurous or experimental type of surfer?
These are a few things I do when I’m riding a new design or even just a new board in a familiar design for the first time. I always find them helpful.
1. I make sure my first surf on a new board is at an uncrowded spot, I know, that can be a hard thing to find these days, but bear with me… the idea is to minimize the distractions or obstacles, depending on how you view other surfers.
2. I don’t try to bust an air on the first wave, instead, I catch a few waves and just do turns, nothing fancy, just turning the board and feeling it under my feet.
3. I don’t put too many expectations on myself or the board until I’ve ridden it a few more times. If you’re riding something new this can take some work, but be patient, this is part of learning to feel what your board can and will do.
Never right off any board, even if it doesn’t feel the way you want it to… “They all work.” The trick is finding, or figuring out what feels good to you, and that’s where I come in! The most helpful ally you have in this process is your shaper. The relationship we build will make us both better, as I learn more about you, I begin to understand what you like to feel in your surfboard, and as you begin to understand me and my ideas about surfboards hopefully you become a better surfer!