TIP #1 Don’t ride what the pros ride.
A lot of surfers make this mistake and it’s easy to see why. “These pros rip, so I’m gonna ride what they ride.” Do yourself a favor: if you’re riding a model that the best surfers use, add volume accordingly. What works for Kelly and SeaBass at Tavarua might not work as well for you at, say, Huntington Beach. Riding the same board that the pros ride—ultra-thin, narrow, and with a 4oz glass job—might look great on the beach, but it’s not going to do you any favors in the water.
TIP #2 Odds are, your board is too small.
The most common mistake I see people making is riding boards that are too small for them. From paddling slower to missing waves and struggling to gain speed and fluidity, finding a board that floats you is crucial. My goal is to go fast with very little effort. To transition between turns with one fluid motion. The key to this kind of surfing is tied to finding your personal magic volume and dimensions. Volume is something that a lot of shapers are talking about these days, and I don’t think a lot of people really understand completely what that entails. You’ll still need to work out the normal dimensions on your board, like height, width, and thickness, but having your volume number dialed in makes all of this a lot easier.
TIP #3 Try something different.
It’ll force you to rethink a few things about how you approach a wave and how you want your board to respond. If you’ve been riding a standard thruster from the same shaper for a while, don’t be afraid to mix it up with a Dumpster Diver or a fish, especially in the summer or when the waves are subpar.
TIP #4 Test your new board in the best conditions possible.
When you get a new board, I really recommend finding fair to good waves the first time you ride it. Most of this is based on the idea of first impressions. You want to give your new board an opportunity to shine. Don’t take it out for the first time when the conditions are really crappy. It may leave a bad taste in your mouth and bad tastes are hard to shake off. If you’re riding a board when the waves are good, you’re allowing the board to succeed or fail on an even playing field, and you’re less likely to shelve what could have been a magic board because you only rode it in gutless conditions.
FINALLY, that “magic board” is not a myth.
When you get one, hold on to it. A magic board will change your entire outlook on surfing. The confidence alone will elevate your game. It’ll make dull sessions fun and it’ll make fun sessions unforgettable. When you get a gem, take good care of it.