• Step inside the mind of the man behind Joistik Surfboards, Nick Blair. Shaper’s DNA is Nick opening up about his design philosophy, and how he approaches the art & science of creating a surfboard.

    Part 6 is keeping the stoke alive – options for the older  and injured surfer: A conversation with Nick Blair. Enjoy.

    Recently looking over my custom orders from the past few years, one particular trend stands out and seems to still be growing steadily: up-sized or volumised boards for surfers in the 40+ and 55+ age groups. These are experienced surfers (from intermediate to high levels of ability and competency), looking to stay in the water for longer by enhancing their paddle power and wave catching ability. The reasons for seeking an upsized board are numerous and include decreases in speed, agility and/or fitness and an increase in weight that may naturally occur with age. Also quite commonly adapting to, or recovering from an injury or major operation (e.g. hip replacement or shoulder reconstruction) requires a change in equipment. 

     

    In fact we have noticed periods where the bulk of our custom orders fit into this category. It’s become a bit of a passion project for me, as it’s rewarding to see so many surfers gain an increase in enjoyment and ability to stay relevant in the water, and keep their stoke alive, without getting frustrated and demotivated. With many of my friends hitting their 40’s and 50’s plus experiencing injuries (combined with associated restricted movement) I have been adapting their usual performance equipment for their new realities.

     

    Typically there are several approaches that can be taken. One is to build volume into shortboard or utility/small wave style boards whilst maintaining dimensions that are considered “high-performance”. Another is to utilise existing models to customise a mid-length craft, or substantially increase the width and thickness of typical length small wave models (when the surfer is finding they are not surfing conditions over 3-4 feet). Typically (but not always) option one is for the first group of surfers mentioned, looking to increase wave catching ability and paddle power. There is a need to get on the wave early and still compete with the pack. Whilst option two is often for your injured or recovering surfers. Either way the aim of providing a customised solution is to get the surfer in the water more often, catching more waves and having more fun. By doing this fitness can often be restored along with increased wave count, health and excitement.

    The main point to get across is we want to make customers aware that there are plenty of options outside of the standard stock dimensions. The models can be customised to ensure you are able to get exactly what you need for your specific circumstances. The models are finely tuned to bring out the best in individual surfers. See the lineup of of boards above as an example of custom boards ordered by older, local surfers on the Northern Beaches (HeavyHitter, CabSav2 and V2SV). Individual solutions based on the unique needs and requirements of each surfer. 

     

    So to give examples, here are 3 commonly ordered solutions:

     

    1. For a performance approach, common models we use and customise for older surfers are the HeavyHitter, V2SV and lately the V2Max (a twist on the V2SV for more of a performance rather than small wave approach). See the above video of Mar riding an epoxy Karboload V2Max last month in the Simeulue Islands, Indonesia. Mar rides a V2Max at 5’8 1/2 x 20 1/4 x 2 9/16 (31.63L). We have been able to build volume into the board whilst still maintaining the essential performance attributes of the design. His surfing is continually improving with age and not being constrained by the increase in thickness and width (achieving volume without lengthening his board). In a similar vein see below video of Paisen then a 56 year old surfer (now 58 and still ripping), who’s surfing gets better year upon year. Paisen rides an Epoxy Karboload V2SV at 5’8 x 20 x 2 7/16 (30.79L). With both surfers I have noticed an increase in performance and technique with their new equipment. Their choice of epoxy Karboload over traditional PU is due to their preference for buoyancy, increased paddle power and rapid flex feedback. 

     

    2. An upsized CabSav2 or V2SV is often used to give a surfer recovering from injury or operation more stability, paddle power and assist in getting into the wave earlier in order to pop-up into their stance earlier. Many surfers after hip replacements or knee reconstructions need a significant amount of extra time to get to their feet. They need to get into the wave earlier to ensure they have time to pop up and require extra stability once they are up. This is achieved with extra volume coupled with an appropriate rocker, which results in buoyancy and paddle efficiency allowing the surfer to get into the wave earlier. Extra width and a fuller plan shape can aid in rail to rail stability not only on take off but also on surfing the wave. A customised CabSav2 allows the recovering surfer the ability to get out on the smallest of days and catch a few waves building up strength and confidence again. The board allows for maximum fun in short bursts. Perfect in waves up to a few feet, it can be surfed a couple of times per week enabling the surfer to slowly regain peak fitness within their tolerance. With recovery often resulting in a feeling of two steps forward and one step back, it is good to have a board you can trust and rely on. 

     

    3. A “freestyle” complete custom approach. For example, blending a CabSav inspired rocker on a mid-length single fin with complementary teardrop outline – see the photo below. This 7’4 x 22 x 3 (54.98L) has been surfed by a 60 year old surfer in small Sydney beach breaks up to solid 6ft plus island reef breaks. This option works really well for an older surfer with a higher level of  experience and ability, looking to increase their wave count but still surf on rail, despite an increase in age and decrease in paddling strength. 

    To conclude there are many solutions for surfers who feel they could benefit from these types of boards, and I pride myself in being able to come up with individual solutions for each customer. At Joistik Surfboards we specialise in building boards to maintain stoke and enjoyment out in the water, and increase wave count. Custom is king! So if your not ready to hop onto a longboard just yet, make sure you get in touch to discuss your custom requirements and ensure that you are not constrained as to your options – after all there is another world outside of model stock dimensions!

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