Stab Magazine | Comfortably Awkward: A Wetsuit Experience

Live now: How Surfers Get Paid, Season Finale


Comfortably Awkward: A Wetsuit Experience

Can you pair a high performance suit with a low performance craft? Absolutely!

style // Jul 29, 2017
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

I’d driven so far the Spotify playlist had wandered into a place of its own. Five hours northbound to trade Sydney’s single-turn rides with sand bottom pointbreaks. My go-to swell forecast app had made a bold call, ‘epic’ for the entire weekend – enough motivation to push through the aches and pains of the long drive. Plus, the water would be warmer, even if only a degree up from home.

The utility Chilli shortboard was accompanied with a diamond tail quad and a Neal Purchase Duo – the strange design you sometimes catch Chippa throwing around (appearing above). It’s no performance board, though Mr Wilson can make it appear so. It was a reasonably rounded quiver, capable of entertaining in most conditions, for me anyway. I’m neither a purist soul archer nor performance warrior. I mean, I can get myself above the lip occasionally, but it doesn’t look fantastic. I prefer smooth surfing. Riding a thruster in lifeless surf defines torture to me (and those watching).

Kokomo hits the stereo, the van swings into the carpark. There’s nine foot planks, horrendous Chinese mini mals, jazzy looking twins and the individuals you can envisage attached to them. The point is chipping off soft walls, perhaps head height if you’re patient. It’s sunny and well populated. 

Admittedly, I prefer the scene over a stacked lineup of carbon mesh, aggressive rails and the latest tech from whatever shaper. However the alt crowd, while passive in nature, can have a judgemental shade. Eyes flick over the Duo as it’s unsheathed. A nod of approval from the guy with the resin tint, confusion from the fluoro supergrom’s father.

DSCF4185 copy

Sure, it’s a slow dance, but changing up the tempo can be refreshing. (Photo: Nick Pont)

I reach in for the dripping 3/2 full suit I’d worn hours before for a pit-stop rinse. It’s cold, heavy and unappealing. Post Jack O’Neill society’s first-world problem. In the back, still in plastic, was a short arm steamer. I’d been neglecting to wear it. Partly because it was still July, but more shallowly, because of its appearance.

The two mil is a vibrant shade of navy, all over. But it’s the racing stripes that first freaked me out. The same you’ll see dashed across the upper thighs of John Florence, Julian Wilson and the rest of Hurley’s performance family – a family I feel I didn’t belong to. My friends and I prefer to hit incognito mode in the water. Perhaps it’s the mediocrity of our abilities. Minimal suits like Axxe, Need Essentials are our usual preferences. Though, this thing felt so incredibly lightweight and the day so warm, it was time to give it a spin.

Hurley and Nike are the best at the tech game, I thought. There’s going to be a lot of paddling, so, even if I felt uneasy coupling a high performance wetsuit with low performance board, at least I’ll be comfortable. I was right.

The suit’s tag boasted of strategically placed seams. No threading under the arms, across the shoulder blades or on the inner leg. The flexibility factor was actually impressive, the ‘Exoflex’ material of the Advantage Plus was absurdly light.

A few hours later, my wingman was exhausted. I wasn’t. At one point I’d even beaten a longboarder in a paddle battle. Was it placebo? Or the transition back from a full suit? I’m not entirely sure, but I felt great wrapped inside. Perhaps it had all been in my head. If function trumped fashion, why should I feel awkward taking highlines in a suit designed for max performance? 

Weird thing is I kept catching myself stroking the stripes between waves. They have a gooey quality. I wonder if John would agree?



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

Already a member? Sign In

Want to join? Sign Up


Most Recent

Watch: ‘Haiku’

Scenes From a Remote Reality, by Vans & Karina Rozunko

Mar 25, 2023

Sun Room: The Overnight Success Of A Young Surf Band

What's it like touring the world and living off of McDonald's?

Mar 25, 2023

How Surfers Get Paid, Episode 6

An instructional manual for the modern professional surfer

Mar 23, 2023


Caity Simmers — Extreme Competitive Surf Vlogger

Cool is chemical.

Mar 23, 2023

Globe Pulls Out Of The Apparel Game

…and, Taj Burrow and Dion Agius are now looking for new main sponsors.

Mar 22, 2023

Owen Wright Announces Retirement From Competitive And Heavy-Water Surfing

But will surf final CT event at Bells.

Mar 22, 2023


Fancy An Ale, Some Good Music, And A Bunch Of Tubes?

Ballet's minimalist full-length will satiate your needs.

Mar 22, 2023

João Chianca Spent Seven Years On The QS Without A Sponsor

And look where he is now.

Mar 22, 2023

Take Stab’s 2023 Audience Survey, Win A 3-Board Quiver

Stab towels and Premium subscriptions also up or grabs.

Mar 21, 2023

Jessi Miley Dyer On The New Challenger Series Schedule And More

Did you know that you could miss the mid-year cut and still theoretically win the…

Mar 20, 2023


Don’t Miss The Last Wave Of The First 2023 SEOTY Entry

Jacob Willcox's ‘Into Dust’ just set the bar.

Mar 20, 2023

Warren Smith on New Welcome Rivers Range and Buying Jaguars on Facebook Marketplace  

Now available in the Antipodes...

Mar 20, 2023


Wavegarden Spills How The Sausage Is Made

BTS of their global air wave rollout ft. Yago Dora, Dion Agius, Reef Heazlewood and…

Mar 18, 2023

Minds, Machines, And The Magic Of Hands

How modern shapers split their time between designing files and hand-finishing boards.

Mar 18, 2023


Are Hectic Lefts The Final Finless Frontier?

William Aliotti is on the right-foot-forward fringes.

Mar 17, 2023

Watch: Luke + Eddie

A mostly unknown, on-duty lifeguard won the most prestigious big-wave event in history. How Luke…

Mar 17, 2023


A Pipe Master, Ryan Burch, And Some Pickle Forks On The Eastern Seaboard

This one ticks a lot of boxes

Mar 16, 2023

Brazil Has A Talent Problem

And three other things we learned from the Rip Curl Pro Portugal.

Mar 16, 2023