You Need A Small Board in Your Quiver
You must have a small board in your quiver, even if—and especially when—it pushes you outside your comfort zone.
Keeping a smaller board in your active quiver requires you to use a more proactive approach to wave riding and a different approach to reading waves—all of which benefits your surfing across all of your equipment.
We have been putting more emphasis recently on the way you build your working quiver, specifically how to construct a perfect Three Board Quiver to suit your personal surfing needs.
Every great arsenal of surfboards needs:
- a reliable Daily Driver
- a familiar Primary Alternate
- a "when the situation calls for it, it's essential to have" Third String
Anything beyond those four likely has something to do with sentimentality, or a very specific feel under-foot.
One of those three slots listed above should be a small board or fish.
The inherent glide of a longer board (noseriders, longboards, and mid-lengths) is delightful. It's part of what makes them so fun to ride—you simply direct your board to the pocket, and allow the energy of the wave to be translated into forward acceleration by all the foam under your feet. Whether you choose to stay low in the pocket, or take a high line, the longer boards will generally harness enough energy to pull you through.
You can even set your weight on your inside rail, and plane through whitewash—often catching up to a section that has closed out—when riding a longboard.
Those generous margins aren't quite there when you ride a fish or small board. You have to be a bit more mindful of where you take off and where you draw your line—often having to take a more proactive approach to pumping and generating speed.
I wrote an article last week about reducing your surfboard's drag in the water by taking a higher line. Too often, I see surfers get stuck at the bottom of the wave where they can draw little energy from the wave's power for speed-generating. Sections run by them, and they're forced to kick out and try again. If they had only taken a higher, more efficient line from the take-off, they could have made that section and been riding to the beach.
Transitioning down from longer equipment to smaller equipment is an exercise in delayed gratification, but it's a process that is well-worth the investment of time and humbling moments.
Putting time in on smaller boards will yield great results in your ability to read what a wave is doing, and respond to it—a skill that translates across any wave-riding equipment you might find yourself on.
Two areas to focus on when riding smaller equipment:
Your Chest: when paddling a smaller board, focus on getting your chest up and chin high. We put a good amount of emphasis on getting foam under your chest to assist your paddling. Raise your chest and chin high when you stroke into a wave. The earlier the wave is doing the pushing for you, the larger your window of opportunity is for getting to your feet—and the sooner your arms can stop doing all the work.
Your Back Foot: A crucial skill for developing your surfing is knowing when to shift your weight between being centered on the board and to your back foot. Too often, I see surfers—longboarders especially—jutting their front hip out toward the nose, as though they were on a longboard skateboard. Except for some very rare moments, your weight should never be out over your front hip. Far more often, you should have your weight over your back foot, giving you the most control over the direction of your surfboard.
If you are looking to add a fish or small board to your quiver, I wrote this to assist in your search: Almond's Guide to Fishes & Small Boards.
If you are uncertain about adding a small board to your surf routine take a good, long look at the 5'4 R-Series Secret Menu. It is an incredibly cost-friendly way to dip your toes into the realm of riding smaller equipment. And at 36.4 L, it's enough to float a surfer 200+ lbs. (don't take our word for it, read the customer testimonials)
Where to Begin:
The 5'4 Secret Menu packs a generous amount of foam under your chest for building confidence paddling a smaller board (stick with it, it may take a couple sessions to get the hang of). That board carries the same amount of volume as a 5'10 Sandia Fish would—just packed into a smaller outline.
We refer to the Secret Menu as "a longboarder's favorite shortboard" for a reason, the wide tail is great for shifting your mindset toward generating speed on a smaller board.
Take a major leap forward with your surfing and add a small board to your active quiver.