Some heavily researched facts (a quick Google search) have revealed that there are over thirty five million surfers in the world. Exactly how a surfer is defined I have no idea any more, but which ever way you slice that figure, it’s a bloody lot.
There are 32 athletes currently allowed in the premier echelon of the sport which is run and organised by the World Surf League. Some of these athletes (and yes they are now apparently athletes) have surfboard sponsors, some have ‘pro models’ which are surfboards that are tailor made for them by different shapers around the world. Gabriel Medina, Kelly Slater, John John Florence (to name a few) all have models devoted to them. These surfboards are tuned specifically through years of research and development with that world class athlete to get the specifics correct for them. Finely adjusted for the best of the best.
You might think that common sense would dictate that, we, humble surfers would realise that the pros are ‘the best’ at what they do and that the average surfer might need a surfboard that’s a little different. Apparently not.
During a recent visit to a main (and unnamed) brand big surf store, I was greeted with various different ‘pro models’ that had ridiculous prices emblazoned across them. As I sauntered unsuspiciously passed the display that had a massive cardboard cut-out of the pro whose ‘pro-board’ it was selling, I heard a sales assistant giving this poor guy his pitch.
As this is a family show, I will moderate by language by saying I was filled ‘with more than a tepid wild scathing hatred’ towards this ‘assistant’. So much so, in fact, that I decided to tap these keys.
Pro boards are for those who can surf like the pro in question which, as we are all different, means you are them, you think you are them, or you surf ‘like’ them. There are a million different shapes and board designs out there and I am willing to bet my mum’s dog that a pro model is not for you. Those pro boards are designed to help that athlete win competitions. Is that what you do? If not, don’t buy a pro board. Simple.
Back to the shop
So, I am back in the shop ‘ear wigging’ the conversation about the sale of the ‘pro board’. The potential customer, it appears, has little to no knowledge of what he needs to surf. He has a minimal and is looking to go shorter. To start surfing a shortboard. What do we think readers? Should he get the finely tuned athlete’s model designed to take the rider to WSL tour victory? Not to say he couldn’t do that, but I would say the likelihood is slimmer than a fish becoming the next motor-cross champion.
So it seems that the sales assistant disagrees with you and I on this and encouraged the unsuspecting client onwards to potential world tour fame. His words were,
“This way you are only going to have to buy one board and then you will be able to keep this one for ever. You are never going to ‘outgrow’ this board.”
The client was nodding and bobbing his head in apparent agreement. It looked as if he was going to go for it. I wanted to jump in and scream sense at the whole thing. It was like watching a car accident happen in slow motion. Like I said, this is a family show, so I won’t use the language I want to, instead I will jump to the part where the client’s girlfriend appeared and whisked him away much to the disappointment of the drooling sales assistant.
A sigh of relief and a shake of the head and I was out of there. The experience, however did lead me onto thinking how often might this happen and what and who are the pro boards aimed at? We all have friends that own pro boards and weirdly, I can’t think of a single one of them who surfs any where near pro standards.
Let’s not get this twisted, they have a use these pro boards (or maturely dubbed poo boards in the office), they are for people who rip. The very very few who actually rip. Not those who think they rip.
As we are about consumer advice here at Surf Bunker, here is an exercise you can do if you are thinking about buying a 'poo' board. You will need:
- Some footage of you surfing (ripping)
- Some footage of the pro (whose board you are looking to purchase) ripping.
- A friend who has no reason to give you false hope
Show the footage of the pro, then of yourself to your friend. If he says don’t buy it then you have your answer. If he says buy it, that means you have chosen a friend with a special sense of humour who might not be your friend after all.
This has been an official Surf Bunker rant, I thank you. (Drop mic, exit stage left)