Is There Such A Thing As The Wrong Board? - Stab Mag

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Ben Gravy and a strange selection for a sand-bottomed slab. Photo: @dyln_tzen

Is There Such A Thing As The Wrong Board?

Existential questions answered in this week’s edition of the Stab Fwd.

news // Mar 7, 2021
Words by Brendan Buckley
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Earlier this week, I rode the wrong board at the wrong wave at the wrong time of day.

It was bigger than forecast — something that could have been accounted for had I taken 30 seconds to check the cams. I had not, and for no particular reason. So I ended up with too small a board at a deep-ish water wave, paddling out just as the wind clocked sideshore. 

The immediate result was a set on the head. I duckdove the first wave and bear-hugged my board because, of course, I had only brought an old, stretched-out leash. It was quite the ride underwater, feeling the buoyancy of a 6’8” combat the spiraling columns of a cold, angry Atlantic. I questioned my decision-making, laughing at myself for getting things so wrong — how have I not learned by now? 

The rest of the set was mellow. I eventually made it to the channel and paddled out for the second time, feet still eager to say hello to the wax. That’s when the great surf began. 

The wind spooked the crowd, freeing up waves and creating space in the lineup. You could sit where you damn well pleased. I damn well pleased to sit a little inside, where I could enjoy the late drops and hard-to-control speed that come with too small on a board on too big a wave. 

In other words, the poor decisions I made positively impacted my session. 

This is a theme in surfing, one most often explored via board choice. Riding what would widely be considered an unideal board for the conditions, as I experienced, can grant you access to new sensations and change the way you think. 

It goes beyond boards, though. 

Taking off in the wrong spot. Misplacing a maneuver. Surfing a crowded wave at an off-tide. Dealing with backwash in general. All of these problems occasionally set you up for great things. It’s a consequence of the hyper-spontaneous nature of surfing — you have no choice but to adapt, and often no time to think about how to do so. 

In most situations, there are right and wrong answers. Surfing teaches you that the wrong ones can be more fun.

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Watch: Beach Head’s New Audience-Titled Film, ‘Wax On, Wacks Off’

Barrels? Yes. Airs? Yes. Turns? Yes. College football? Also yes. Last year, Ian Crane went from a surfer you should watch to a surfer you need to watch. And now, he’s even making surf movies. The highlight of this fifteen minute doozie, for me, was the Caroline Marks x OutKast pairing the world never knew it needed. She is absurdly good at riding waves.  

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Speaking of Andy… 

Last week, I asked you who you want to surf like. I appreciated every response, but I’d like to highlight Dylan’s for its simplistic honesty. 

I want to surf like Dane Reynolds if he had a 5 month dry spell of no surf and couldn’t do airs anymore… that would bring me satisfaction.

Truth. 

One last thing: 

Our world would function more seamlessly if we had constructed a society in which, no matter where you are, you could pay some kid $5 to scrape the wax off your board.

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