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10/23/2009  — 

Shopping for Used Surfboards

I put some notes together for a friend who is starting to look at surfboards on Craigslist. He's a beginner looking for something to ride while learning.

Maybe these tips will help you too? Here's what I like to do when I look at a used surfboard.

  • It's hard to tell how big a board is in a picture. Make sure you get dimensions and those dimensions fit your body & style of surfing.
  • Look at the fins, leash plug, and rails. Look for cracks that might be open.
  • If you find a crack or a repaired ding, squeeze it a bit to see if there are soft spots nearby (to tell if it's waterlogged).
  • If the board is a single-fin or a 2+1, look at the part of the big fin that would touch the ground. If the ground-facing tip is chewed up, one of the last owners may have been a little careless with where they put the board down.
  • If the board is a 2+1, make sure those little sidebite fins are solid. If they're removable (usually with a hex wrench), see if the bolts are rusty. If they're glassed-on, just do the crack check.
  • Make sure that the water-side of the board is smooth. This is the side you'll be sliding on. Dings, dents, bumps won't help you too much.
  • Pick it up to see if it's reasonably balanced (some patches can be really heavy and throw off the board balance).
  • Look from the tail toward the nose (and vice-versa). Sometimes you'll see a twist in a board. If you see something, ask about it.
  • See if there's a serial number on the board (handy for tracking history).
  • Of course, ask where the seller got it. Get the whole story of the board. This will come in handy at some point.
  • Ask the seller where he/she surfed it. What worked, what didn't? Why are they unloading it? What will they be surfing next?
  • Look for known shapers and brands. Bonus points are always awarded for investing in local shapers. These will all help with resale.

Sometimes a board will have some problems and it's just worth picking it up anyway. Sometimes the board looks great, but it's just a dud once it gets into the water. If you get stuck with a dud, you'll learn something.

What do you like to do when shopping for new gear?

12/05/2008  — 

The Magic of Surf

I should have seen it coming. I should have known that a sport that depends on the behavior of the moon, sea monsters, and energy that flows from way over the horizon would be dripping with it. Heck, I'm basically walking on water. But still, I'm surprised at how much magic I've found in surfing.

First there's the magic of place... Of course, the secret spots up and down the coast come to mind. Places with shark lore, epic waves, tragedies. There are smaller miracles too. For example: I bought most of my surfboards through Craigslist. Every place I've met someone to buy a board has become a magic spot for me.

I highly recommend you try meeting someone on your commute route next time you buy a surfboard. I bought my last board from a guy I arranged to meet at the BART station parking lot near my house. Now every time I come home, the magic reminds me that there might be waves tomorrow morning.

a magic spot

Then there's the magic of time, which seems extremely elastic when riding a wave. Everything slows down. Why? Because my heart and CNS is on overdrive? Or so I can enjoy the ride? Who knows? Also, photographers talk about a magic hour or golden hour when the sun is just right. Surfers know that the early AM hours are often best for waves because wind tends to stop.

Magic things... magic surfboards. I'm lucky enough to have one. It catches waves in all conditions. Board shapers love to discuss the magicness they've encountered over the years.

It's all true. Every last bit.