I am not a big fan of surf wax, I never have been. It takes time to apply effectively, melts and as a result manages to find its way into places it shouldn't. It is also not particularly good for the environment!
Patience is something I most definitely lack as an individual, especially when I arrive at the surf and cannot get into the water quickly enough. I am blessed to live somewhere with an abundance of above average surf. Even now, after 30 years of surfing, I always pull up excited and impatient to ride waves. Getting undressed is hurried and done with the hastiness of a teenage boy about to get his first taste of a woman's hidden treasures. I really am in this much of a hurry, suit on, board out of its bag, make sure it's got fins, stash the car key, and I'm off.
Ten minutes and two comical take offs later, I am cursing my own impatience for the zillionth time. Wax!!!
Cue scraping of finger nails through what wax is on my board (usually a pre-melted puddle due to my inability to ever remember to take my boards out of the car). Or, a trip back to the car park, to do what I should have done in the first place.
You see, applying wax takes time and patience. All well and good when you have a nice new board, and carefully applying some basecoat followed by your brand of choice, is all part of the ritual. The rest of the time however, for me, it’s a chore.
The damned incessant melting is what REALLY gets me worked up. I live in Portugal, where it is pretty hot most of the time. I'm also pretty busy as a rule, and as a result, my boards have a habit of spending far too much of their time, inside a bag sat in my car. We all know how this ends!
The above scenarios are the reason I have always bought traction for my boards. I consider tail-pads a must. Every surfboard I own and probably every board I can remember owning has had one. Back foot traction as most of you will agree, is preferable to wax for a number of reasons.
It provides better grip.
Protects your board, reducing pressure dings etc (I am very heavy footed).
It doesn't melt.
You should only need to buy it once (I do consider it to be very overpriced for what it is).
The arch bar and tail kick definitely provide a better back foot experience than wax.
I have always been a bit confused as to why full deck traction went out of style. Back in the 80's, when you popped down to your local surf shop, you always had tons of full deck traction options. In fact it was easier and often just as cheap to buy full deck Gorrilla grip or Astrodeck as it was to buy just a tail pad. Back then I considered wax's days to be numbered. Then all of a sudden, puff, and it was no more. Tailpads remained and went from strength to strength, but front foot traction and all its inherent benefits disappeared.
Within the last 18 months or so, you may have noticed that there has been a re-emergence, pros are using it, surf shops are starting to stock a small selection.
The surf industry, in eager pursuit of extracting your last dime, this time around is selling it as a separate and innovative new product. With what I can only describe as innovative pricing.
This article wasn’t planned , unlike others it hadn't been slowly incubating in the back of my grey matter, before springing to life. It came about purely by chance. You see, last week was my birthday and in the days leading up to it, I had very ingeniously managed to convince "The Boss" that I needed another board, it is my birthday after all.
On the day, myself and a small band of my closest surfing brothers, went for a late morning surf at a local point break, followed by a lovely lunch at a restaurant less than a stone's throw from said point. Amongst the gifts and cards, one generous soul ( not to be named), presented me with a box of Van Der Waal surfboard traction pads. Anyone who reads Surf Bunker may have read Nic's recent review of this particular item. I certainly had and was intrigued by the product. This however was the first time I had actually seen it in the flesh.
What a fantastic product! Easy and kind of fun to apply, you can be quite creative with your layout. Crucially, the grip is great, as good as anything I have ever used. Whilst surfing, you really feel sure footed, whilst still able to move your feet if required. Paddling takes a little while to adjust too, but it's fine after half a session in the water. It's not going to protect your deck like traditional traction, but definitely looks a lot cooler, and it sure as hell beats wax!
SB: A note from the Editor. If you are looking to purchase a pack of Van Der Waal, you can do so here, get 10% off when you enter code SPECIALSURFBUNKER at the checkout.
You are welcome.