The new hundred-dollar pro model with an unbeatable return policy. Jamie O'Brien at Backdoor. Photo: Baeseman

The Wavestorm is sold at Costco. It's produced in Taiwan and shipped in bulk, with its custom aspects limited to white stripes on a blue deck, or the other way around. Rubber fins, stock leash, pre-installed traction. Easy on the wallet and hard to ding, the board has become the centerpiece of suburban quivers.

At its core, this source of soft-top stoke actually has a lot in common with another recent alternative craft trend. The alaia revolution saw a loss of fins and a return to retro—a rehash of a foregone era. Founded on merits of soul and craftsmanship, alaias were an instant hit within certain circles, despite the obvious hindrance of a surfer's ability.

The Wavestorm is the archenemy of the hand-shaped, renewable-resource alaia clan. But within the sport, the two represent the very same thing, both split by a common denominator. Each is a niche, an alternative for surfers who've grown weary of their thruster setups and business-as-usual quivers. The two sit on polar opposites of surfboard technology: One organic and unique, the other commercial and mass-produced. But in the pro surfing community, these crafts represent two sides of the same coin: Surfers’ desire to handicap themselves with dysfunctional equipment for a new buzz.

Jamie O'Brien gets bored in 4- to 6-foot Pipeline with his regular boards, so he resorts to his Wavestorm for barreling Backdoor and double-downs—second reef step-offs from his soft-top to his thruster are part of this warped progression.

There's the blog PostModernCollective, a stoked satire of the standard pro surfer blog roll. Custom board art, setups and galleries of Wavestorms in action. Founder and photographer Bryce Johnson says their mission is simply based on the fundamental of stoke. "Our little crew has always ridden soft boards, starting back in the BZ and Doyle days. We can take the crappiest days and turn them into magic. Lots of the posts on our blog are from horrible days, but we go out with an idea and try to get shots of it. We're trying to push the limits with the Wavestorm boards in all kinds of surf. We think that Wavestorms are the ‘best worst-board’ ever."

PMC contributor Kyle Maligro at home in his alternative element. Photo courtesy of

Kauai's Koa "Doyle" Smith fell hard and fast for the soft-top siren call. "We were at Riley Metcalf's [in San Clemente] for a week straight, and there was a pulsing southern-hemi swell slamming into the beachbreak out front. I didn't want to keep breaking my shortboards, so I decided to do the unthinkable. Then and there, I forged an unbreakable bond with the Doyle. There is no such thing as a bad day to Doyle. When the waves are crackin' and the keiki are scared, I'm out there with the dolphins."

He and his brother Alex have strained their ties with their local supplier, after having abused their legendary return policy. "On my way to returning Doyle number three, Uncle Costco asked me, 'Why are you breaking so many Doyles? Maybe you don’t know how to surf?' After grabbing two more from the rack, Costco employees started losing it. There were three employees following us around the store, telling us we shouldn’t buy them. Finally as we were about to walk out the door we heard a distant yell—we looked back and saw an old lady running after us. She told us that we were absolutely not allowed to return any more Doyles. It's fine though. I'll just take them to a different Costco."

Koa in line at his local repair shop. Instagram courtesy of @lastnamefirstTV