Winter swells will soon be marching up the coast.
You will need the right board for your current state of being to get the most out of this good time for surfing.You will have a steamer on probably 2/ 3 if you’re lucky, the waves will be travelling faster and hitting that long dormant reef or outer bank.
So what’s new and exciting in bigger boards to get you in the power pocket this year – well nothing. Boards for more powerful surf have remained relatively unchanged because by its nature bigger more powerful winter waves will only allow you to do so much on the wave face. The pro’s are surfing shorter boards in bigger surf but I don’t think this is a good idea for the average or older surfer wanting to enjoy the good waves of winter.
I think bigger can be better.
For one thing todays surf is more crowded, and on the East Coast at least for the most part winter swells are not perfect, it’s not like Indo. With a bigger board you will miss less waves, if you see the peek looming to the left or right of the normal take off spot you can track it down more successfully.
So surfing a bigger board, you are on more waves, that’s good but then on the wave face the length of the board and rail can be a hindrance to performance.
So how do you increase the ability of the big board to cut a tighter arc when needed?
Here are a few things to incorporate in a semi gun or gun board to keep it loose;
1/ Keep the tail fairly thin, this will keep the tail in the water holding in when you need it but also with the tail deep in the water the nose points higher thru the turn allowing you to keep the arcs shorter when needed and the forward rail out of the water to reduce catching the rail.
2/ On a longer board go with an old fashioned vee bottom, this will give you smooth rail to rail transition and also make it easier to instigate a turn, less pressure needed leaning on the rail especially at high speed.
Simon’s DSCV 7’6 19 7/8 2 7/8 Swallow 46.65 litres, this big board has the 2 elements mentioned above and also incorporates an 80’s style rail with flatter deck. I find this style rail works well in combination with the vee bottom and I’m able to camp out on the rail thru bottom turns effectively drawing out the arc or length of the turn to suit the section.
Then using element 1 and 2 to carve it short in the pocket, or out off the top.
My normal small wave volume on a Fusion 6’5 20 5/8 2 ¾ (2½ thick measured in the concave) RSQ is 36.50 litres, so the 7’6 has a lot more volume, bigger all over. I have had this board for 2 years, surfing it recently at South Avalon in 4 to 6 foot with a couple of waves scraping the 8 foot range of a strong clean south swell, the wave had an outside bank with a slight hole between the inside bank, good lefts and rights.
I hooked up with Mike Newling on the day, an old team rider and now photographer so I’m able to show a few images to enhance the blog, thanks Mike.
The waves broke on the outside bank only on the more solid set waves, meaning the occasional long wait for a wave to break out there. The 7’6 gave me easy access on the ones that did break and even allowed me to scratch into a couple that loomed but failed to break then moved to the inside section with me up and riding.The wave face was fairly flat but capping at the top and moving in fast, so these waves can be hard to pick up on the take-off, unless you are super fit and a high standard surfer.
With the wave faces sizable the 7’6 felt good thru the turns, admittedly a little long but still I found myself having a satisfying surf. If the bank was better formed probably the ideal size board for me would be 6’10 20 2¾ RP 37.8 litres or maybe a 7 footer, that is providing the swell was consistent and the crowd not too bad.
So don’t be afraid to go longer and give yourself a chance when the take-off spot is a little elusive or tricky.