After spending time up in Gnaraloo I had the epiphany that shortboarding isn’t really for me. It is something I’ve been aiming towards, but the reality is that starting to surf at 25 doesn’t really lend itself to vertical reos and insane cutbacks. You need to have been doing it since you were a little tacker. Plus we rarely have good quality shortboarding waves, so there’s just not the opportunity to develop my shortboarding skills. Perhaps if I was able to surf the board 2 or three times a week I might be in with a chance. These two things combined make the journey to decent shortboarding almost impossible. The icing on the cake is that I’m not actually that attracted to it. I like the glide. Smooth, planing rides that move in synchronicity with the wave. Not the hack and slash, bunny-hop you so often see on short boards.
A few things have helped this epiphany to emerge. For instance, I saw this:
She was taking off right on the peak and styling all the way. THAT is what I want to be doing. High lines and long, 70s style cutbacks.
In the past, the turtle roll vs duck-dive has been the other incentive for working towards shortboarding. But this chick just turtled under the biggest waves, no problem. Ok. Sometimes it just takes seeing it to believe you can do it. I was also watching the Roxy Longboard Pro in Biarritz. When the pros were stuck on the inside they did all the things I do. No secrets. That’s just how it is when you LB. You can't fight it.
So I was stoked to get on my longboard and get styling. It finally occurred to me that if I was going to be stuck on the inside at Tombstones diving under 6 set waves, it really didn’t matter whether the board attached to my leg was 7 foot or 9 foot. So given that there are a lot more styling options on the 9 footer, I should start taking that out more often.
I was super stoked seeing the cheater 5s, cutbacks and the floaters that the Roxy Pro girls were pulling on their longboards. So I’ve got some concrete things to work towards.
I haven’t dismissed shortboards altogether, but the shortboard shape. In fact, I discovered the mini simmons somewhere on Flickr or someone’s blog and started doing some research. I have fallen in love. The glide of a mal in a mini-retro package! As part of the research for how short I could go, I had a paddle and caught a wave on my Dad’s 6’2 kneeboard last weekend. That was a slightly weird experience. Weirder still was seeing dad kneeboarding on a 9’ mal.
We were talking about the idea of having a crack at making one, but then that led to the idea of just letting someone shape one that really works…
If you don't know what I'm talking about, here is some serious eye candy.
After talking to a number of shapers, they all suggested that the mini simmons can go short. Super short. They have a huge amount of volume and the shovel nose that makes them easy to paddle even at 5’6. Yes. 5’6. I put the order in on Monday. They are shaped to be fast, to plane and do really well in smaller, sectioning waves. I’m sure there will be a period of adjustment and it will remain to be seen whether I can duck dive it, but I’ll have my fingers crossed.
It now seems like such a sensible alternative to the shortboard, complete with glide and Hang 5 stokeability.
If you've managed to read this far, well, well done. And thanks. :]