They look good, they surf well, and they can take a hit—what more could you ask for? Photo by: Dom Labrecque
It’s easy to get caught up in the gerbil wheel of progression and materialism in the surf industry. All too often we want the ‘next best thing’, and in the surf world we most often see that desire translated into wanting the next board, the newest shape, or the ‘coolest’ looking shape.
The truth is that when you’re a beginner, it never hurts to start out on a soft-top—and as tempting as it may be to get switch over to a different board, I’m here to argue the opposite. The longer you own that big, bright indestructible hunk of styrofoam, the better. Don’t believe me? Let me explain why.
Reason number one: switching to a shortboard is hard, and it takes time to master the fine balancing act of popping up. A wobbly shortboard in perfect waves can easily lead to you being discouraged, and to be frank, it can be demoralizing. Take it from an expert who spent a few years on his shortboard looking like this:
When you switch to a shortboard too quickly, you can sacrifice mastering the fundamentals—a dangerous price to pay.
When I was surfing a shortboard prematurely you could see me totally pooching my wave as I drove my back knee into my delicately glassed shortboard in an effort to gain some semblance of balance on a board not quite right for me. If I was on a bigger board, guess what? I’d probably look a bit more like my buddy on the right, aka someone who has the right board for their skills.
On a bigger, softer board I would A) be standing up and having a good time instead of holding on for dear life and B) not damaging my $600 dollar investment. Seems like a smart choice.
On top of being good for your skillset, there’s a more practical reason to surf a bigger board (aka longboard), and more specifically a soft-top—you don’t have to worry about dinging it. It wasn’t until later in my surf career I realized this —after a few costly mistakes, of course.
If you surf a soft top surfboard, forget worrying about having to buy a board bag and save yourself some money. In the water, if you run into a rock, another board, or the beach, don’t fret—your board can take a hit. With a softtop surfboard you can surf shore breaks, rocky points, and crowded beach breaks with peace of mind.
But soft top surfboards aren’t just battering rams—they also offer a great entry into surfing from a performance side of things that other boards can’t offer. With increased buoyancy, soft-tops (especially those with an epoxy base) can be game changing when it comes to increased floatation making for easier paddling and wave catching.
Speaking of easier paddling, if you’re a beginner and find yourself tired out surfing an epoxy or poly board, a soft top can be the cure—more volume in soft top boards means more floatation, which means longer sessions and more progression.
Ambassador Mirae Campbell with her 8’ Ultimate EpoxySoft Ultimate longboard—a thing of beauty.
To put the icing on the cake, one thing you won’t worry about with a soft top surfboard is transporting your board. Most people don’t live on the beach, and getting to the beach if all too often where boards get dinged whether they are in the bed of a truck, the roof of your car, or on your home-made bike rack. With a soft top, forget about the pains of transport and get to the beach in peace.
It’s easy to think you ‘need’ to move on from a soft-top—but rather than thinking about where you need to be, consider where you’re at right now. If you’re having fun on your soft top, keep having fun on it. When you start to feel like you’re growing out of it or it’s holding you back, that’s when it’s time to switch. And who knows—you might even end up back on a soft top at some point.
To check out the new Degree 33 EpoxySoft hybrid surfboards click here