Torren Martyn surfing mid-length surfboard in New Zealand

Torren Martyn knows something the author doesn’t. Photo: Screenshot

The Inertia

Thinking about joining Devon Howard, Mikey February, Machado and the rest of the lads on the smooth-ridin’ mid-sizin’ bandwagon? Think again, Brociopath. Every time you run your hands down a sexy seven-footer, a 5’5” thruster loses its wings. Even worse, your surfing descends into gutless mediocrity. Soon you’ll be whispering into the damp ear of your rescue dog Taco about, “da glide.”

Over the past 5-6 years, surf companies like Pyzel and …Lost have been rolling out medium-pace shapes with astute model names like “Mid-Life Crisis” and “Smooth Operator.” We’ve all seen Devon Howard spraying shoulder-dwellers on the CI Mid, and in truth, many of us have started thinking that it’s time to trade the flashy BMW M8 for a dependable Honda Pilot.

You couldn’t surf like Howard with a Falcon Heavy between your legs, but that’s not the point. Surfing is not about creativity and experimentation. It’s about frustration and suffering. Paddle power is for ping pong and pickle ball, both of which you are marginally better at than surfing. For the doubters, here’s why you should not ride a Mind Expander during the Evolution of your mental breakdown.

Because Mid-Lengths Make it Easy

The whole point of surfing is to ride a salty potato chip designed for a super-athlete and, better yet, to float a tweaked stalefish over the high seas. Sure, it’s tough to even snag a wave lately, but you once backdoored a section right down the street from Backdoor with surprising grace and ease. OK, it was in a New Jersey wave pool set on “Adult Contemporary,” but do facts matter? You still hang your wetsuit on the side mirror of your sprinter van and leave it there all week just to show everyone you rip, so you’ve got that going for you.

Because Surfing is Mutiny, Not Mid-Length Crisis

Surfing is about testing oneself against the elements when the elements are a packed Saturday morning SoCal session with a sake and Sapporo hangover. Surfing is about living like an outlaw and making the most of the babysitter’s time. Mid-lengths are for kooks, hipster dufuses and foam-loving freaks who think the soul of surfing is dolphins, funboards and rainbow-flavored kombucha.

Because Carving Is for Turkeys

Drop in and wiggle that tiny toothpick back and forth as fast as you can! Long, effortless turns are not for you, and the last time you took the “high line” you were stoned on a bus in Baja. Remember? You ended up with a face full of sour cream and a “Surf Hot Tea” tattoo that took you a week to decode…and another week to remember that you designed it, Hot Rod.

Because It’s a Passing Fad With No History

Mid-lengths simply exploded from the sky in a burst of geriatric fire and Metamucil rain. Guys like Joel Tudor didn’t ride 70s-era variations of the design in the 90s, and G & S’s 1974 “Modern Machine” is not the true Godfather of the modern-day middie. 

Nope, mid-lengths were actually designed in 2018 when He-Laird chopped one of his SUPs in half with a battle-ax and deemed the resulting shape a “mid-length for the masses of the universe.” Surfing isn’t cyclical, it’s a goddamn surf wax volcano of unpredictability and overpriced coconut creamer.

Ditch the Wavestorm, go for the real mid-length surfboard

The high line?

Because We’re Both Idiots

I used to make fun of mid-lengths. My goal was to perpetually downsize to a smaller, more radical board. Looking back, this inane quest hurt my surfing. I found myself in quite a few spots over the years – Perth, Australia; the North Shore, Florianopolis, Brazil – struggling to ride a tiny board in unfamiliar conditions, when I would have been happier on a board with some heft.

Recently I hurt my back – because, old – and when I popped up, my form ranged somewhere between Upward Dog and Shavasana. On the East Coast for the summer, I pulled a dusty 7’6″ from the garage and stuck with it through a blessed onslaught of hurricane swell. Riding a bigger board has been completely transformative in terms of paddling, trimming, carving, foot movement, speed and inspiration.

Damn, you guessed it. I’m buying a mid-length as soon as my next paycheck arrives (ahem, Inertia).

But really, guys…no one else should. Mid-lengths are for people who never shut their iPhone light off. People who listened to vinyl before it was hip. People who think TikTok is the sound a clock makes. People who still ride potato chips, listen to Bobby Dylan and believe him when he says they’ll be…Forever Young.


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