Having never surfed a foamie before, I wondered if this might be the best board for teaching my son to surf. I wanted to be able to surf it too as sometimes, you just want to take one board to the beach. Well we got a blue one and it just happened to be one of the most 'eco' around.
‘Big Blue’ as my son has affectionately named the board is made from recycled foam, has a recycled aluminium stringer and is heat bonded with no adhesive. It’s a new ‘greener’ way of looking at the foamie market. He loves it.
We chose the 8’0 as it is supposed to tick two boxes. Firstly, my lad could use it in the smallest of conditions and it would fly, secondly when he has had enough, I could pop out for a little nose ride to keep my addict happy and in his cage. The emphasis on the board’s design was performance, responsiveness and stiffness while being good for a beginner. A board that you can ‘progress’ on. A ‘Vidal Sassoon’ of surfboards.
- Board Dims – 8’0 x 25.4 x 3 with a volume of 83.3 litres
- Aluminium Stringer for increased performance and rigidity.
- Nose and Tail sponge-like buffer so as not to cause injuries.
- Super soft rail padding all the way around the circumference of the board.
- Slick base for speed.
- Ultra soft deck paddling.
- Flexible Fins
Testing Day One (beginner kids)
Saturday was a day off school, mum was at work and the waves were small. Lad surf time and the first day we would take ‘Big Blue’ for a spin. I recognized a similar extra amped up look and buzz around my lad as I realised this as the cherished ‘new board syndrome’. You know, that buzz about surfing a new board for the first time, it never gets old. Funny to see it reflected in my offspring, what was I creating?
It was kind of a revelation of sorts to not have to worry about bumping and dinging the board when putting it in the van. My son told me to ‘be careful dad’ just mirroring what I tell him about boards. Your own words coming back at you, nothing like that.
Getting to the Beach - It became quite obvious that there was no way he was going to carry ‘Blue’. He wanted to, but having a width of over 25 inches and not being light, I could only just get my arm around it. I figured this, looking at it from a kids or smaller humans perspective, might be a potential issue. We waxed old blue up, which did not take long. A few strokes of the bar and we were good to go.
Paddling – This is something I thought could be a problem for an eight year old, only having a limited ‘wingspan’ but the board has such a great amount of flotation, flat rocker and the slick base even the daintiest paddle propelled him without problem. He grew in confidence straight away just being able to paddle easily under his own steam.
Catching the Wave – I have nothing to say but good things here, as expected, the flat rocker and speedy base propelled him onto the small but semi steep waves and rode all the way to the shore. We only rode small green waves, no white water.
Standing Up – This took a bit of getting used to, there was lots of teetering and falling off at first but after ten or so waves he got used to it. He is okay normally at this, so I asked him what was different. He said the board was ‘squishy’ and hard to standup on which I guess was the extra soft deck.
We left the beach mission accomplished and smiles on faces, that first surf done, he loved the new board.
Testing Day Two – (Adult)
It was a small 2ft day and one I normally would have taken my log which, just for reference sake, is 9’4 24.5” by 3 3/8, it’s a beast and able to catch any kind of lump. Not wishing to give myself the option to back out, the only board that I graced the van with was ‘Big Blue’.
Off shore, clean and the a little hollow beach break. A nice little swell running. The local surf school was out and they were on normal soft tops. I thought, this must be the perfect test ground. Not having to worry too much about hurting anyone on ‘Big Blue’, I got involved.
Paddling – I am about 90 kgs and used to paddling a high volume board, ‘Big Blue’ was no exception, effortless glide and it was (I guess not too surprisingly) amazingly comfortable to lie on. It was like lying on a new mattress, super soft and kind of nice.
Catching a wave – This was surprising, as I paddled, it seemed it glide right until the critical moment when I would stand, then it kind of stalled and I found I needed to give it a few extra stokes to get in. It felt a bit like it was pushing water right when it didn’t need it too. I tried it a few times and had the same result.
Surfing the wave – This was strange from a few different angles, firstly due to the low entry rocker and the massive vertical thick nose, I found I nosedived quite a few times. Adjusting my expectations and position, I eventually managed to stand. And fall off straight away. It was weird, the ‘squishy feeling’ that my son told me about was the soft deck making it hard to get the board to respond like a normal board. If I put weight over the fins and tried to turn the board my feet would sink into the deck and the board would not respond. A lot of falls later, I decided to be more gentle and ‘nurse’ the board around. This worked and got it trimming, ‘Big Blue’ was flying, the board felt rigid from nose to tail and once I toned down my expectations I got a few good waves.
Due to the fins being very soft, you really can not expect to be putting a lot of expectations on responsiveness.
Walking up the nose – This is a no no, as soon as you begin to shift your weight up the top half of the board it becomes unstable as the fins disengage (not really surprising).
Grab Rail – You may laugh but I thought a test is a test. The little peak began to get more hollow as the tide went out and I decided as I was having fun to try some late take-offs, Backside take-off, late drop straight into a grab rail. I felt the fins give a bit, the tail came around and to my surprise the rail caught with enough fin to give me the drive, then it flew, I adjusted higher and the board responded in kind. No way, I thought. I tried it a few other times and it worked again.
Suddenly I was having a lot of fun, laughing and hooting to myself, not a care about being smacked around the head, falling off, just back to not taking it seriously.
Conclusion - With mixed feelings about the board’s performance I left the beach wondering how I was going to get all this down in key taps.
A Further 4 weeks of testing
Summer is here, kids’ holidays and small, weak swells with occasional bump. Family beach trips have been an almost daily affair and ‘Big Blue’ has been on every one of those. I have had a change of thought and a change of thinking. As I have said, I have never surfed a foamie before and I have been surfing ‘Big Blue’ a lot. I have found more smiles on my face, falling a lot, tucking into closeouts and just not caring, there was a different perspective I was gaining, I was not taking surfing seriously. And I guess it shouldn’t be. It should be fun.
The only problem now is that my son occasionally wants a go on the board, maybe we will have to get another one.