Rebuttal(ish): Riding Shortboards All the Time Is Childish and Irresponsible - Stab Mag
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Photo: Greg Ewing

Rebuttal(ish): Riding Shortboards All the Time Is Childish and Irresponsible

But yeah, you probably don’t need a mid-length.

news // Mar 20, 2021
Words by LM
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Ed note: Earlier this week, Brendan Buckley wrote a piece titled “Opinion: You Should Never Buy a Mid-Length” in which he lambasted the fiberglass egg and pronounced a more-or-less monogamous appreciation for his 5’11 shortboard. Stab Premium member LM decided to rebut Brendan’s argument, kind of.

Brendan on the same 5’11 he’s been riding since Bush Sr. was in office.

Brendan Buckley’s piece this week was mostly correct. Mid-lengths are pointless (pun intended), and shortboards are the most valuable piece of any quiver in a utilitarian sense. But I’d like to make the case for a truly diversified fleet of surf craft.

First, a small digression:

A few years back, my fiancé and I extended and renovated our house. At the time, I didn’t have the guts to negotiate a dual-car surfboard garage, so we still have boards scattered around the place like a grown-up’s easter egg hunt. Three under the house that are too long for the shed, half a dozen in there between the mower and some pushbikes, some that have been stashed in an external storage cupboard, and a few that take their rightful place in the car.

My missus is super relaxed, but 15-or-so boards neatly arranged along a garage wall would seemingly highlight an over-supply for a guy who is never going to make a cent riding them.

Let me break down the quiver quickly:

  • 2x Fishes @ 30 and 40L
  • 6x Shortboards currently (2 epoxy, 4 PU including a full groveler, different tails, etc)
  • 2x Step-ups
  • 3x Proper Step-ups
  • 1x 9’2 Gun
  • Her boards (which are communal property should I need one): 7’6 mini-mal x1 and 5’10 fun board x1
  • Plus several broken sticks that shouldn’t still be on the property
Artist’s rendition: the author’s backyard.

Like Brendan, I am a huge shortboard guy. I’ve been written off for that a heap of times, and irrespective of my growing collection of equipment, you won’t see me going past sections on a mid-length anytime soon. That said, an enjoyable surfing life on my coast requires a wide range of crafts, and I’ve dutifully indulged. Board versatility has always been a focus.

The single-board solution or three-board quiver might work well on Australia’s east coast or in California, but there are a number of places where it won’t, and unfortunately we chose one of them. In support of Brendan’s well-written logic there are some questions you should tackle to try and keep things efficient:

  • What is the magic number of boards?
  • How many do you have, and are they all being used?
  • What don’t you have covered in your preferred range of conditions?
  • Where do your old ones go?
  • And from an environmental perspective, how do we best manage the impact into the future?

Where I live, you can literally ride a wave every day of the year — it will never be properly “flat.” But if you confine yourself to one zone, some days are going to be a massive challenge. Medium swells can be great, but in the same window, there is almost no chance you’ll enjoy a solid session on the beaches with a standard shortboard… and that standard shortboard will make the protected reefs seem even slower after the half-hour drive. Psych up to your favourite tune or clip, come with your best ‘QS vision, board, and intent, and watch in boredom as the old guy on the mal takes you down in your personal, wave-starved mock heat. The protected spots are very much like that.

Through trial and error, I’ve found a great mix of sticks. The preferred assortment in the car is a 40L fish for the knee-high dribblers I will try not to end up at (but welcome with open arms due to having correct equipment); regular epoxy shortboard to cover the standard double-up rip bowls we find; and a back-up in case I do something silly — which seems to go in purple patches… break one, break them all. Most days, if you open my tailgate, they’re the options. And without those options, my surfing life would be significantly worse. Which is to say, my life would be significantly worse.

TLDR: fuck a mid-length, adore your shortboards, but keep a fish in the car too. And negotiate for the goddamn garage.

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