Photo: Ryan Miller/Red Bull Content Pool

RETRO & LONGBOARD Guide 2019

YOU CAN RIDE WHAT THE HELL YOU LIKE THESE DAYS. ANY DECADE’S DESIGN IDEAS WILL HAVE BEEN MODERNISED AND PIMPED UP BY SOMEBODY. FUN IS THE AIM AND THESE BOARDS WILL DELIVER IT IN SPADES.

Mark Phipps
Mark Phipps
Mark Phipps

Knowledge Is Power 

Reviews  

Online board reviews are great if you know the person writing them is a surfer and has extensive hands-on knowledge. If you can’t prove this, then they are marketing spiel and next to useless. The best board review on a board is one that you can trust. Find someone you know who has one and ask them, ask a reputable surf shop assistant or a shaper.

Volume 

Volume measurements are a guide. Not the be all and end all. You may ‘like 26-litre boards.’ But do you like the foam, rocker and volume distribution, the rails and bottom contours all of which determine the board’s ability to paddle out and into waves, ride on the face, plane and turn? EPS blanks with epoxy will also feel different than PU boards with polyester resin of the same volume. The same applies to a board that has a flat rocker and a concave compared to say a rolled vee bottom board with loads of rocker. Many other factors need to be considered which are equally important. Volume is just one variable to consider when buying a board.

Models 

Once upon a time, we had two styles of boards: shortboards for everything from one to eight foot and guns for eight foot plus. Now there are boards for every condition from one foot onshore up to waves like mountains. You need to know precisely what waves you want the board for. You can get boards that excel in gutless waves and every conceivable condition above that. 
Talk through all the options with your shaper or experienced surf shop salesman. Tell them what boards you like and why you like them. Tell them what boards you don’t like, and why not. Tell them the waves you want it for and be honest about your ability. The most significant gains come through honestly assessing these factors, and then finding someone who can apply years of knowledge to get you on the right board. Not only does it minimise the risk of the increasingly eye-watering investment but it ups the chance of you scoring the best board of your life.

Buying online
Buying onlineThe choice of boards online now is infinite. Without professional guidance, chances are you will end up with a board that doesn’t suit you. Always, whenever possible, visit your store or shaper. Stick it under your arm and feel it! Feel the balance, check out how the volume is distributed, and also the most important part – how the rails are. Talk to the experts.Ask them about the board you are thinking about purchasing, ask about the rails, the volume, how it compares to what you are currently riding, etc. Eliminate as many variables as possible.

Don’t be the secondhand salesperson.

There are more “nearly new boards” on secondhand board sites than ever these days. The reasons? Customers bought boards that didn’t suit them. Reputable surf shop owners and shapers have years of knowledge and experience of thousands of boards and their owners. Use them. It works. They like nothing better than a stoked surfer coming back into the shop and telling them that their new board is a weapon.

See this as a long term relationship.

It’s more important than ever that you build a good working relationship with your experienced surf shop owner/salesman or shaper. They build up encyclopaedias of customer knowledge. They will be able to direct you to models that will suit you and let you know which ones you probably won’t like with the net result of saving you a fortune. You know your surfing style is unique. Shapers and experienced board salespeople can help get the board tailor-made for you. Use them or lose them.