While a guilty pleasure for most seasoned surfers, Costco’s Wavestorm is the go-to craft for most beginners looking to purchase their first board. On any given day, on either coast of the United States, you’d be hard-pressed to find a lineup void of those characteristic blue and white stripes. They’re ubiquitous; like the mass-produced, corporate fast food chain of the surfboard industry. And they’ve just become what we’ve all guessed – but perhaps were afraid to admit – the most popular surfboard in America.
Per reports from a feature story on Bloomberg, Wavestorm sells five times more boards annually than other leading surfboard brands. That’s staggering, a complete industry take-over, considering the fact that Wavestorm only began in 2007 while other established board brands have been in business for decades. But when you consider a few factors of the business model, it all starts to make sense.
First, the boards only cost 99 buckaroonies. That’s a steal! Compared to other soft tops, like Catch Surf’s 8-footer Odysea, the Wavestorm is miles cheaper. Add in the fact that Costco will replace the board free of charge if it breaks, and you’ve got an unmatchable champion of the niche industry.
And then there’s the fun factor. In the carefree throes of summer, nothing quite compares to soft top surf sessions. The beaches are usually crowded. The waves aren’t always good. And the water is warm. Nobody is taking their surfing too seriously, so why not play around on a forgiving, far-more-fun shred sled? I, myself, own the 8-footer model and during the summer months, that becomes my primary whip. (Although I prefer to call them “Babestorms”). Even the pros occasionally take a break from their traditional thrusters and hop on a softy. Take J.O.B., for example – he’s often seen riding soft tops and even in gnarly conditions, like at Pipe.
Surf purists and established shapers have cast a negative light on Wavestorms, dismissing them as corporate, mass-produced novelties that pilfer cash flow and the sanctity of the sport. But it seems that there’s another way to view their ubiquitous industry dominance, according to Wavestorm’s founder Matt Zilinskas. When people criticize him – You screwed the industry and brought prices down! – he has a ready rebuttal: “I tell them, ‘How many of the hundreds of thousands of people who bought our board have moved on to higher-end product?’ Ask any surfer in the water about Wavestorm. They probably own one.”