__________ Is the New Black

Tracking the latest trends in surfing

Punker Pat gets weird with his hull in firing Mexican barrels. Photo: Burkard

When us normal folk spend our hard-earned cash on airfare and baggage fees, we like to be sure that those heavily taxed coffin bags we drag along are filled with “sure things,” i.e., sticks that have proven themselves in the type of surf that we will be chasing. So why are pro surfers choosing to bring along one weird craft, and riding them on the best day of the trip? Are they rubbing it in our faces that they get good waves all the time and don’t mind “wasting” an epic session with some flea-market pile? Have they grown tired of this whole “performance” thing? Whatever the reasons, Punker Pat is riding hulls in perfect Mexico, Dane Reynolds is getting shacked on a 15-year-old fish, and the entire Rusty team is boosting on single-fins in Bali, which means riding weird boards on the best day of the trip is the new black.

Craig Anderson is not known for his ability to shred on an alaia—but he can. Nor is he known for his ability to glide through heaving Indonesian barrels on a single-fin—but he did. “I was in the Mentawais and we went out at Greenbush in the morning and I decided to ride this single-fin that my shaper made me that I hadn’t really surfed that much,” says Craig. “There were a couple of solid ones and I got one really epic wave on it. I was psyched because it was kind of sketchy on the drop and I pulled up into it and got pretty barreled, and the thing just went faster and I weaved through it and somehow popped out the end.”

We were talking about what makes a wave memorable, and besides the ride at Greenbush, Craig didn’t exactly have a glowing treasure trove of memories in regards to waves. “I travel around so much and see so many different places and surf so many different waves that it’s almost like it all kind of feels the same in a way,” he said. As crazy as it may sound, getting perfect surf and tearing it to pieces on boards finely tuned to your every specification can get repetitive. It can get old. Turn stale.

The solution? Mixing it up. Riding what you aren’t accustomed to in waves that you are is a sure way to get a new sensation. And it doesn’t have to just apply to the pros. Boards that you aren’t used to may work in the waves that you take them out in, or they might not. Either way there is a learning curve. A challenge. Trying something new is good for the soul, and if it’s difficult, it will remind you of when you first started surfing, which is always a good thing.

Dane Reynolds holds his line in Indo thanks to a 15-year-old twin-fin. Photo: Kenworthy
Dane Reynolds: Whatever people say that he is, that's what he's not. Photo: Kenworthy