An upshifter’s guide to getting the most out of a bigger rig
So you drank the mid-length Kool Aid, how could you not? Faced with the barrage of propaganda served up by the likes of WL, among others, your News Feed inundated with the self-satisfied grins of those in enviable mid face trim.
Either that or you had little choice; that’s all your local stoke boutique really sells these days, (aside from cutesy matt black thrusters and brightly coloured foam boards embossed with the signature of someone’s favourite pro) anyway.
Whether you went twin pin, single or two plus one, you scrambled to procure a 7 something ish egg, almost certainly tinted, and made life decisions to ensure the extra financial burden had been met. You’ve waxed it (hopefully all the way, rather than leaving a mile of shining deck north of your chin).
Best of all, you’ve demonstrated the foresight and wherewithal to be at the coast on the right tide under a favourable wind, somewhere where a bit of shiny swell is breaking on a decent-ish sand shape.
You paddle out, easy. Any loss of duckdive sinkablity is generally more than made up by a vital extra knot of paddle steam, you’re in the lineup in no time. A wave appears, and you spin and glide in, perhaps much easier than is customary; you pop to your feet.
That’s when the fun/problems start.
“The one thing really pissing me off about the mid-length revolution at the mo is seeing c••ts trunna ride em like shortboards” said the editor of a reader supported, premium print magazine called Luke. His acerbic take might be in part down to being on deadline for Vol. 260 when pressed for comment.
“Tell them to watch the scene with the surf instructor in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, ‘Do less, no, less than that'” he continued in a more conciliatory, jovial tone.
But aside from Gartside’s up standing version of dead lions, there’s gotta be more to unlocking the magic of the mid than merely just posing, statuesque?
We turned to shaper Mark Phipps, surfboarder of expert skill level, who more recently has been shaping and surfing more and more mids, specifically the One Bad Egg. The board has become a best seller, greeted with rapturous reviews from all comers, while his own surfing on the board, invariably on at Les Bourdaines in Seignosse remains a silky display of timing and flow.
We reached out to ask him any tips for arrivistes on the mid-length scene, particularly surfers making an upshift from shortboards to eggs, and partly echoed Gartside’s apples n’ oranges sentiments, only more diplomatically.
“I probably say that for anyone coming to order a mid-length board from a performance shortboard background, don’t be temped to try and intimate your shortboard by going narrower, shorter, don’t try and thruster-ize it. It’s a completely different feeling, Make it a true mid length.”
And in terms of the on wave approach, what should surfers do in terms of technique to savour the most out of the sweet taste of mid length fruit? How can mere mortals hope to emulate cheeky smoothness of the Phipps?
“I guess walking the board a bit more helps, maybe getting back to turn it, and in the middle to trim” he offers by way of advice, too mellow to be didactic. “I mean people can surf em however they want, really. Whatever you do, it’s good fun, just get out there and enjoy it mate.”
In the Pacific Ocean, Devon Howard, longboarder of highest repute has more recently become mass purveyor of mids in his role as Channel Islands marketing whizz. Many video clips feature him skilfully manoeuvring mids at speed with an ease many wish they could turn a pointy board two foot shorter.
You’ll have to look closely at Howard in full flow to notice the timing of his weight shifts. He steps his back foot deftly forward at the bottom part of the wave just before bottom turning from that forward position, then steps back just after coming off the bottom as he reascends the face. Key to it all flowing together so well of course, is his speed. Note Dev’s glorious high line load ups, bringing the vital velocity to facilitate voluptuous carves.
Curiously, in an uncompromising display of non-reciprocity, the reverse of shorting on a mid/long isn’t met with anything like the disdain. Surfing a shortboard like a longer craft; for example cheater five-ing, soul arch bottom or cutback-ing is greeted warmly, encouraged. So is just that shortboarding is rank? Are there any facets of aggressive thrustering still palatable? Should only the CT’s Top 34 and a few Stab High invitees even be allowed to do it?
Well, there is one apparently acceptable transferrable skill/sentiment.
Let’s return to Devon. A recent Malibu video shows him dousing a wetsuit less beginner with a face full of spray, for paddling on the shoulder as Dev surfs. Beach Grit was so delighted, they even contacted the beginner in question, whose stock seems to have only risen because of it. Or rather, his soul saved, Dev’s rail fan of saltwater lending the spiritual nourishment of the cleric’s font of holy. Or better.
In summary, then: Don’t try coercing your mid into something it ain’t, a shortboard.
Spray c*nts in face.