It's funny how surfing is going so many different directions. As much as we look to the future of surfboard design, we're always going back to the past.
In a recent Surfer Magazine article, Slater, discussing some of the wider, piggy boards he is using on smaller waves, made mention of how everything always goes back to the fish design. But this recent phenomenon goes back further than the 70s.
How about 70 BC, or whenever ancient people first built craft to ride waves? Yes, now some surfers are reverting to simply riding a piece of wood. Nev Hyman is going to loose it.
The Alaia is a replica of the fist types of boards first ridden in Hawaii and they are all the rage right now. Yup, this is one step away from pulling a piece of plywood out of the dumpster of a construction site and paddling out. Australian, Tom Wegener, is credited for fueling this minimalist movement. You can read all about him here. And Dan Malloy has been a big proponent.
There are those who are taking it far too seriously, as there always are. People are buying these things for way too much money. It's a peice of wood, litterally.
But my friend, Ben McBrien, who in addition to being a pro surfer, is also a phenomenal woodworker, recently shaped one out of cedar. He makes more cracks about the silly trend than anyone, but he can actually ride it. This is the same guy who launched a massive alley-oop off the back of a jet ski just days earlier at Red Bull Night Riders.
It's about an inch thick, solid wood, no rocker, no fin. It's just a flat piece of wood and never did I think we would have so much fun in one-foot summer waves. Way beyong retro. You can barely paddle the board, as it sinks under you. It's best to try at a low-tide sand-bottom break, where you can run into position.
The first few times, you start paddling and kicking, feeling ridiculous. But then the wave kind of lifts the board (in the most basic sense of the word) and planes off, letting you hop to your feet. It's actually not as hard as you would think.
Of course, it takes a few tries to compensate for the lack of a fin, but when you're riding on a flat piece of wood, there's a smug feeling that comes from the simplicity of it all.
And then there are the groms who saw us walk down the street with the Alaia and said, "Dude, that is so *explative* hardcore!"
Yeah it is. Simple is so hip.