Small-Wave Theory

Tanner Gudauskas breaks down his favorite small-wave surfboard designs

C71I9683

“Even this quiver, which is still made of all shortboards, offers really different feelings. I’ll ride each of these for a few days in a row, and then I’ll switch to one of the other ones to keep everything fresh and interesting.” Photo: Ellis

In California, we deal with a lot of small waves, so to stay stoked you have to find boards that let you get creative in those conditions. The theory behind this quiver is to get the most fun out of anything under shoulder-high. To do that on a shortboard, you’re going to need some extra width and thickness, and some variation in the tails and fins.

With tails, I think there are two routes you can take in small surf: wider tails that make the board feel skate-y, which is really fun in mushier waves, or pulled-in tails for more drive in waves with more of a bowl. For fins, I like to go with quads or big side fins and a small trailer fin. Those setups make it easier to get a lot of down-the-line speed, but if you are used to a thruster, it will feel a lot different when you pump and try to drive off the bottom. I call it “hula-hooping” because you kind of have to swing your whole body up off the bottom instead of just engaging your back fin and pivoting off that.

I think what often frustrates people about small waves is that they can’t surf them as well on a standard thruster. They want to draw the same thruster lines, just on a smaller scale, which you can’t really do. You have to switch up your equipment and enjoy the different feelings that allows. Even this quiver, which is still made up of all shortboards, offers really different feelings. I’ll ride each of these for a few days in a row, and then I’ll switch to one of the other ones to keep everything fresh and interesting.—Tanner Gudauskas

ellis_g_tanner_g-2

Tanner Gudauskas, putting his Rocket 9 through the paces. Photo: Ellis

Top image, from left to right:

ROCKET 9
5’9″ x 19-1/2″ x 2-7/16″
One man’s trash can be another man’s treasure when it comes to surfboards. I got this board from a guy that didn’t like it, but on my very first wave, I knew it was magic. With the bigger side fins, you can really hook your turns in the pocket, and it has a really different feel from a thruster, but then the little stabilizer keeps you from sliding around as much as you would on a twin-fin.

SIX-CHANNEL FLYER
5’9″ x 19-3/8″ x 2-7/16″
This is the Bobby Martinez Flyer. It’s got six channels and four fins, which is a nightmare for the glassers to deal with, so I kind of felt like a princess ordering it. This is the best board you could ever ride at Lowers in really clean, glassy conditions. It gets going so fast; it’s like a rocket ship. My brother Dane did the art and put a Sun Ra quote on the bottom: “You’re outward bound on the spaceship Earth. Destination unknown.”

HIGH FIVE
5’6″ x 20″ x 2-1/2″
The tail block is really wide on this one, so it planes really well and has that nice skate-y feel in gutless waves. When you get going, it’s probably the fastest board I have for small waves, but turning it in tight pockets can be a bit tricky, so you’ve got to take more of a lateral approach.

SEAL TOOTH
5’8″ x 19″ x 2-1/2″
This is a hand-shape that Dane Reynolds made for me. It’s such a fun board, and it has different moods. I think that’s the cool part of hand-shapes; they keep you on your toes, and it’s fun trying to learn their idiosyncrasies. It also has big twin-fins and a small trailer with a little wing in the back leading to a narrow tail block. That narrow tail makes it go really well in the pocket, but it’s actually a pretty good all-arounder.

g_ellis_t_guduaskas-fj2015_9

Tanner Gudauskas enjoying the fin drift on his twin with a small stabilizing center fin. Photo: Ellis