|Making the Switch: The Secret of Improving Skills|
|Written by Tarik Khashoggi|
There comes a point in every surfer’s life when the exhilaration of just standing up and going down the line has faded and the need to progress in performance takes over. Improving skill levels surpasses the performance limits of beginner equipment and the need to find the right board that will raise the learning curve becomes imperative and is a pivotal point in every surfer’s life.
Generally, when people begin surfing they start out on boards that are geared towards paddle performance. Longboards, Doyles and fun-shapes all fall into this category. With the length and volume these boards usually carry, a surfer is getting maximum float, which increases paddling power and decreases frustration. The worst thing that a new surfer can experience is being on the wrong equipment from the start, getting frustrated and never surfing again. I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the correct board when first learning to surf to ensure the experience is a good one, and the surfer ends each session wanting more.
Once the fundamentals are in place, a surfer is ready to move on to more high-performance equipment. This can be one of the most exciting experiences on a surfer’s path, as it will open new levels of surfing performance previously impossible to achieve on entry-level equipment.However, just because the basic skills have been mastered, this does not mean that jumping on a 6’0 ultra thin high performance short board is the next best step. Finding what I like to call a “stepping stone” board can be tricky and at the same time extremely crucial. The progressing surfer wants to find that board that will take them to the next level. But boards are not cheap and making mistakes in board selection can become costly very quickly. I feel it is invaluable for the beginner/intermediate surfer to have the ability to work with a shaper or, at the very least, speak at length with a knowledgeable surfboard representative. Time spent in consulting expert advice at this point will greatly decrease the margin of error when looking for the board that will take them to the next level. Now more than ever, when board design is as broad as the Pacific horizon, I strongly encourage utilizing these people whenever possible to ensure that you will get what’s right for you.
As performance grows throughout the life-long path of a surfer, board design will always be growing and changing as well. Finding the right board won’t always be the easiest task. However, by keeping an open mind and having knowledgeable people help in the decision-making process, frustration levels will be minimized and skills will definitely advance, often in quantum leaps. Here’s to unlocking the “secrets” of skilled surfing, one step at a time.