Today, The social media surf world went into a frenzy, due to @boardporn posting an image saying “Soft tops rentals ruined surfing”. Comments ranged from subjects about Surf Schools, Pop Outs, C&C, Handcrafted Boards, Pro Endorsements, NYC Beaches being overly crowded in the summer months, and much, much more. 254 Comments, in 7 hours, and I’m pretty sure Ron of @boardporn did his best to answer them all.
When I was growing up Soft Tops were used to teach children how to surf. Normally, they would surf the foamy for a few months (maybe weeks) and then want a real surfboard. The Soft Tops served the purpose of introduction. Maybe you screwed around on flat days or just for a good laugh but it was never considered an actual surfboard.
Nowadays, I can’t drive to the beach without seeing cars full of Wavestorms. I’ll be honest, it drives me nuts and frustrates the shit out of me. When did it become acceptable to consider a Wavestorm or any other foamy a real surfboard? I don’t think the pro’s that ride foam boards like Catch Surf consider them real surfboards. They are just having fun. Have you ever really looked at Catch Surf? They aren’t selling surfboards, they are selling fun. I personally, love those guys as they are some of the funniest guys you will ever hang out with. I also don’t think they consider themselves shapers. They pop out fun. Jamie didn’t stop riding Tokoro’s because he’s sponsored by Catch Surf but he pops out tons of fun in-between swells.
So where did it all go wrong? When did people starting considering foam boards real surfboards? One thing we know is Wavestorms don’t support local surf shops. Thankfully some of the foam brands do sell to surf shops and impact surf shops in a positive way.
I’ve been seeing a ton of posts lately about the softop epidemic and mainly on the stereotype behind anyone riding a wavestorm. And while I understand and ultimately agree with the issue behind mass produced foam boards and the attitude that usually come with them, I can’t say that it’s fair to people like myself and anyone else who literally just can’t afford anything but a second hand foam board.
Granted, it doesn’t bother me a whole lot to see these posts. I only own one board and I’ve been surfing a wavestorm for a few years now. And my love for surfing goes way beyond my embarrassment of being “that wavestorm kook”. But what bothers me is that no one believes that anyone can surf a wavestorm well and still have respect for others around him. The vast majority of people on wavestorms, in my opinion, are either beginners or people just looking to max their wave count with no regards to those around. But there are the silent few of us that have no choice but to surf a wavestorm, and try to stay away from crowds or actively avoid being a wave hog/a snake.
I would kill for a nice glassed board that people didn’t sneer at in the parking lot or in the water, but that’s just not something I can afford at this time or any time soon. I used to live in Hawaii on Oahu and I surfed a wavestorm because I couldn’t afford a good board. I live in Southern California now and I surf a wavestorm because I can’t afford a good board and I’m a brand new father. And soon I will be moving to Northern California where I’ll still surf a wavestorm because I can’t afford a good board. And it’s not because I’m in love with the thing and the way it rides, it’s simply because I have to ride it. Some of us love surfing to our core, but we just can’t afford to surf like others. And that’s fine, I have no problem with it. I just wanted to let you know that we’re not all bad. Some of us just want to rip a fat foam board and go home and pay the bills on time.
I don’t really consider it a real surfboard and it doesn’t bring my immeasurable joy every time I step up on it, but it gets the job done. And until that day comes when I can finally afford a real damn board, it’s all I have and I’m going to surf it as such.
Thanks for your time!
Long time lurker and first time commenter,