We’ve all heard surfers talk about how important it is to have the right board for the right conditions. Every surfer dreams of building a robust and visually-diverse quiver. Whether it’s finding a new outline or adding more flex or shifting to the esoteric design principle d’jour, we’ve all tried to find a slightly different board that evolves with the conditions.
Unfortunately, for many of us, the quest to build the perfect quiver is a waste of time – and not necessarily a financial possibility. The voices telling us we need to have more choices are often the same voices that say they’d be ripping harder – if only they were riding their other board. I believe that if we really want to rip harder, we should ride the same board all the time. Or at least, as much as possible.
Board makers know that you only need one surfboard. They push specially-designed boards that claim to help you narrow down your quiver. But, depending on where you live, your shortboard is probably the only quiver you need. For the vast majority of surfers, in the vast majority of places, the waves don’t change that much. Knee-high to slightly overhead match the conditions pretty much every single day. Most shortboards are designed to rip in these conditions.
Is the shop associate trying to tell you how this groveler is the board you’ll need this summer? Maybe, he’s trying to sell you on a high-performance shortboard now that fall is approaching. Just pick one. Either board will work year-round, and riding the same board gives you a consistency that you’ll miss if you’re constantly switching boards.
When the surf is small, a groveler will only help so much. You may think that it paddles like a longboard, but it doesn’t. Even when the waves are small, you only need a little bit of a punch to ride whatever shortboard you already have. If you’re worried that the waves are getting a little too big for your groveler, take a moment and remember you’ll be fine. Unless you’re truly planning on riding double overhead waves, your board will still work when the swell arrives.
Every time you surf, the conditions are going to change. Unless you have access to Slater’s wave pool, every wave is going to be at least a little bit different. This variety is part of what makes it so hard to get better at surfing. Swapping your board every session only throws more variables into the mix. Not only do you have to figure out the waves you’re trying to ride, but you also have to figure out or remember how your board is going to ride in the conditions.
So, if you want to keep improving, I’d advise you to stick to one board as much as possible. You’ll get more comfortable riding your equipment and learn its subtleties. That’s empowering. Remember, your board can handle a wide array of wave conditions. It’s up to you to learn how to make the most of your board when the waves change.