Latest boards, suits, shorts and shorties
With winter swells and dropping water temperature due to arrive in Central California by mid-autumn, I found myself in need of a new wetsuit for the season. A recent purchase of what I assumed to be a top-of-the line wetsuit transformed into a saga of undulating emotions and, more importantly, warmth.
Of course I wasn’t blindsided by this need, I knew all summer a new suit was in the cards, but procrastination persevered until October when I purchased a brand-spanking-new XCEL Drylock 4’3.
I’d been partial to O’Neill suits in the past, but after hearing XCEL’s praises sung by many friends in the water and out, I decided to sack up and drop the $460 plus tax to see what I was missing in the form of Drylock technology. I was not disappointed. Initially.
When surfing emerged on the California coast in the 1950s it was the Malibu beachfront that emerged as the epicenter of activity. The famed right-hand pointbreak became synonymous with the sport itself – so much so that the type of boards ridden there took on its name.
Malibu longboards are similar to classic longboards in general shape, but are slightly tweaked to promote the flashy riding style characteristic of those mid-century watermen just up the coast from Los Angeles.
Learning how these boards differ from classic longboards will help you when buying a big surfboard – perhaps a malibu is right one for you?
Like surfboards themselves, surfboard tail designs come in several variations, and each affect performance in the water. Because the tail of a board is extended back into the face of the wave with the weight of the rider, it is the focal point of many surfing manoeuvres and an essential feature of all surfboard designs.
Whether it be big wave riding, tube riding, aggressive turns, or simply coasting, shapers manipulate the tail of a surfboard to meet the various goals of surfers.
Knowledge of these designs is imperative when buying a board.
Although you’ll find many styles, surfboard tails are derived from three basic designs.
And understanding which category surfboard tails fall under will help you choose the right board to purchase and ride.
Naturally, you’ll need a wetsuit to ensure your winter surfing sessions last longer than five minutes. But when buying wetsuits you can’t just throw on any neoprene sweater and paddle out. And you’re likely to need a suit to match spring and autumn conditions too.
Water is denser than air, less forgiving, and voraciously steals your body heat. When it’s cool outside, surfing will increase circulation and make you feel warm. And although blood will be pumping as you paddle around looking for waves, the sensation of body warmth is soon lost in cool water.
The golden rule of buying wetsuits is simple: the thicker the suit, the warmer and less flexible it will be. Of course we’d all like to be comfortably warm when surfing, but because surfers require a great range of motion – especially in the shoulders and arms – we have to find a happy medium between the warmth and flexibility of our wetsuits.
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