Are you one of those people who sees a soft top in the lineup and makes a face like someone just shit up your nose? There are a lot of those people, almost always on a standard shortboard (even if the waves are knee high), wearing an all-black wetsuit, and generally taking surfing very seriously. “Look at that kook,” their shit-smelling grimace says. “Fucking kook on that fucking kook board!”
There are a few types of people who ride soft tops, though. The first are the learners who flop around like wounded fish, clawing at the water with limp wrists, their bodies a foot too far back on their boards. The second are the people who’ve been surfing for long enough to realize that surfing ain’t serious and riding a goofy board is surprisingly fun. Sure, the performance goes out the window, but performance doesn’t necessarily mean fun. A third type of person on a soft top is the Jamie O’Brien’s of the world. Insanely talented on anything that floats, this type makes a 10-foot pink foamie at macking Pipe look like a walk in the park. Jamie O’Brien, Beau Cram and Harry Bryant did just that on their Catch Surf boards in Hawaii and Australia.