Well, my ankle is taking its sweet time to heal up, and I’m not going to rush it. On the other hand, I’ve come down with cabin fever from sitting around the house.
I’ve taken my longboard out a couple of times in the past week to paddle around, but pop-ups are still out of the question for now after a painful attempt on one wave. After a while, I did take a wave on my belly, and it was super fun after a two month drought of not surfing anything. It was, however, slightly treacherous on a 9 foot fiberglass board. Thankfully, I was able to wrestle the big board down the wave and make a “kick-out” before the shore pound could catch me. Whew!
Bodyboarding would be an option, but I really need surf fins to kick into waves, and that’s out too. Now what?
Last weekend, I ran into a good friend who has been surfing for over 50+ years, and like many, recently endured knee surgery. Again, he sung the praises of a “Beater” board to me as an option to surf whilst allowing my ankle to be spared. I’ve seen him having lots o’ fun on his Beater board here in the neighborhood, so I’ve been thinking about this purchase for a while- he’s a good salesman, honestly. There are a couple of brands of these soft-top mini boards on the market, invented with the intent of “beating the blackball,” or avoiding Summertime bans on surfing on heavily crowded beaches, like in Southern California. Surfers try to get around the ban by surfing these soft, relatively tiny foam boards. The name has also become associated with a “Beater”, or knockaround board you really don’t care about banging around.
The board I ordered from Catch Surf is called an Original 54″, which is 4’6″ of foaminess at 20″ wide with two keel fins. Big for a bodyboard, mini sized for a surfboard, I figured this might give me the option and the float to belly ride by paddling into waves instead of kicking for them like I would on a bodyboard or paipo. The website said the board has 30 liters of volume. Guess that means something to the aspiring Pro grom. To me, anything that gets me a little wave time works. I’d love to shred it up like they do on their YouTube vids, but I need to live in the now.
…..Easy on the ankle, and just go have fun, gnar gnar Princess.
It shipped pretty quickly, but arrived on the coldest, rainiest day of the season so far. Great. But, it only took 5 days, which, in December, is pretty fast. So my surf session would have to wait.
It didn’t come with the fins installed, but they were a quick 5 minute install with just my hands and a quarter to tighten the oversized plastic screws.
I was impressed with how channeled out the bottom was- the website really doesn’t convey this feature. It’s an actual “craft”.
This happy little nugget wasn’t cheap, either. I’m not sponsored, a test monkey, a pro blog head, nothin’, so I was screwed. With the shipping (California to Florida), it came out to around $225. However, a good bodyboard can run $300, so while it does seem expensive, it’s about in line with similar alternative surf crafts like this, such as surf mats or paipos. By the way, DON’T call them toys to a mat surfer or paipo enthusiast- they will string you up by your own leash. I’ve tried mat surfing, it’s harder than I gave it credit for, and a heck of a lot faster than regular surfing the same wave. I felt like Clark W. Griswold going down the hill on the greased up disc sled. Yikes.
Speaking of which, the site said the board would need wax for grip, and luckily, I had a pantload of warm/cool water surf wax lying around. The board looked more gray online, but really was a dark blue, which worried me for our hot Florida Summers. I think a lighter color deck would have been better to hold wax. Next time??
Since warm/cool/cold water wax tends to be considerably softer than tropical temps of wax, I always liked using the softer stuff on my bodyboard so I wouldn’t tear up the foam any faster than necessary. I also noticed some surfers using a traction pad with these boards, though. I wasn’t sure about it since the wax may or may not stick, so I did consider it as a future possibility. I went ahead and waxed up the board lightly for now in the mid-to tail section, with a little up around the nose at 10 and 2, where I would steer the board.
Of course, the manufacturer sells the Beater leash Barbie accessory to go with your Beater board, but you can use any shortboard ankle leash (preferably the thin Comp weight type) with the loop on the tail of this board.
That’s a little different from a regular bodyboard, when a wrist coil leash is more typical since you are kicking into waves with your surf fins. Fortunately, I wear my leash on my right ankle, which is in decent shape…knock on wood. I had my own 5′ comp-lite leash from a little 5’8″ fish I used to have. I sold that board because it was just too short. I’ll admit though, it was fun to have a tiny board to screw around on. At least this time, I don’t have lofty expectations of shredding the gnar standing up on this new Beater. Sigh of relief for this middle-ager. Besides, after buying this, there’s no budget for surgery anymore.
This board was considerably narrower than my bodyboard, but the shape was more fishy. With a lot of fullness in the nose.
**** The Ride****
So, who cares about all that crap? How does it RIDE???
I took it out in messy (but blissfully warm) 2-4 foot waves at the Pier yesterday and had a BLAST! However, I was exhausted afterwards. Paddling this little nugget around in semi-drifty surf will make you work for it. For reals.
I didn’t try to stand up, of course, but it’s hell on wheels down the line prone, and I weigh just a fair bit more than a Olsen twin, so I was quite surprised at the speed.
I need to remember to steer more with my hands and fingers, and get my feet out of the water so the tail can work its magic. I’m looking forward to trying it out in other conditions, and I’m going to try to find a traction pad to put on it, and put a how-to on here since I’ve only seen one YouTube video about it, and that kid is SO stoned while he’s making the vid. It’s distracting.
Happy Sliding, any way you can get it!!!