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

Words by Brendan Buckley

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.

These Are Your Favorite Surf Movies Of All Time

We asked a big question. Fifty of our Premium members gave us thoughtful answers. This story takes you through fifteen of those answers, and features a handful of insights gathered from the collective. You’ll likely be surprised by which brand won the most selections for their films.

Breaking: Kelly Slater Will NOT Be Flying On the WSL’s Private Jet To Australia

Well, well, well. It sounds like a seat just opened up in Premium Economy. For real though, this is massive news — and it makes you think about how the rest of the season will pan out. With all the travel challenges and new format, 2021 might just be the year of the wildcard. Someone get Sean Holmes on the line.

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.  

The Undeniable Magnetism Of Craig Anderson

Don’t be a Craig denier. Instead, enjoy this collection of images and words from Ando’s friend and supremely talented photographer, John Respondek. The two have a way of simply making surfing look wonderful.

Andy Irons and The Radicals, Chapter 2 of 4

I used to feel certain that I had seen all the Andy Irons footage there is to see. For two weeks straight, this series has been proving me wrong. A trove of unearthed clips paired with the stories that shaped modern surfing? Yes, please. 

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.


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.


Comments are a Stab Premium feature. Gotta join to talk shop.

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Do The Olympics Change Your Life And Make You Rich?

An interview with 2016 BMX Gold Medalist Connor Fields.

Jun 23, 2021

John Florence And Kolohe Andino Are Surfing Again

Slater maps out qualification strategy for 2024 Olympic Games

Jun 23, 2021

Dylan Graves Explores How We Can be Better Allies To LGBTQ+ Surfers

“The only way to grow and learn is to talk about it.”

Jun 22, 2021

The Most Boring Contest Brought Forth The Most Interesting Equipment

What were surfers riding at the Ranch?

Jun 22, 2021

Surfboard Prices Will Soon Make You Tremble While Pulling Out Your Credit Card And Buying One Anyway

Yeah, it’ll outpace inflation. Here’s what we know.

Jun 22, 2021

Do Surf Brands Still Dream Big?

With more people surfing than ever, let’s contemplate the path to the stratosphere.

Jun 21, 2021

Mikey Feb Guides His Twin Pin Through Spotless Indonesian Glass

A vigorous yet poetic display of aquatic dance.

Jun 21, 2021

Filipe Toledo And Johanne Defay Win 2021 Jeep Surf Ranch Pro

The arduous construction of a moment.

Jun 20, 2021

How To Steal A Surfboard

The Misc: It’s an art.

Jun 20, 2021

What I l Learned From 23.5 Hours In Lemoore

Notes from in and around a sweaty ranch made for surfing.

Jun 20, 2021

Does The Stab In The Dark Winner Work For The Everyman?

Joyride: Testing Sharpeye's Inferno72 in a range of waves

Jun 19, 2021

Remarks On Some Big-Ish Surfing In 115 Degree Desert Heat

Day 1 at the Surf Ranch Pro.

Jun 19, 2021

Coco Ho And The Lost Art Of Footwork

A first-hand glimpse into the benefits of some extra wiggle room.

Jun 19, 2021

The New WSL Finals Format Is The Perfect Addition To The Most Chaotic Season In Modern Pro Surfing

Yes, it’s unfair—and we should all be very happy about that.

Jun 19, 2021

Stab Podcast: “There Is A Shit Load Of Hero Worship In The Surfing Community”

Jed Smith analyzes the bizarre social matrix inside of a surf town.

Jun 18, 2021

Stab’s Psychic Pick To Win The Surf Ranch Is…

Here’s what our metaphysical consultant had to say.

Jun 18, 2021

Episode 2: The Electric Acid Surfboard Test Starring Mason and Coco Ho

Brace yourselves, a swell is on the horizon.

Jun 18, 2021

Stab Podcast: Is Kelly’s Pool a Legitimate CT Venue?

Or is it a chlorinated charade?

Jun 18, 2021