Surfboards for older Surfers

morg's picture
morg started the topic in Tuesday, 19 Jan 2016 at 3:25pm

We all want small fast surfboards. But how small is small enough, and how big is too big for an all-round shortboard? This normally comes down to ability, weight and wave quality. But what is an optimal short board size range for surfers over 50?

I’m lucky enough to live across the road from the beach and waste a lot of time analysing surfers styles, technique, and how different boards seem to go. It’s intriguing how in 2 to 4 foot waves you can have two guys over 50 of similar ability, one on the latest shortboard, and one on a mini-mal or higher volume fish-style board, and the guy on the mini-mal or fish will often seriously out surf the short boarder. I don’t just mean wave count, I mean the whole package. Radical old guys don’t surf like radical young ones! They tend to surf pretty much the same on most waves, and interestingly they don’t actually turn much more or less when riding different boards of similar sizes. I often find myself watching a surfer thinking “you would be better off on a bigger board”.

I’m 54, 80kgs and arguably my best surfing days are behind me. Age steals our paddling and explosive strength and I’ve noticed that by the time surfers are in there mid 50’s, those that had it, have pretty much lost that magic pop and explosive power that differentiates them from the rest. They still have great technique, but not the POW. More are starting to ride quads as they seem to plane quicker too.

I theorise that we only need a surfboard that performs well enough to allow us to push our limits, and anything more high performance is probably just making things harder. My quiver ranges from 5’3” to 9’5” and I like 32 litres or more to have fun in normal waves. My current go to board for fun waves is 5’10 x 20 1/8”, and 6’2” x19.5” for bigger waves but I often wonder if I might surf better or at least as well on a longer board.

So my question to the experienced shapers and surfers out there is at what size does a modern short board stop riding and feeling like a short board?

Morgs

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 4:02am

6'1 X 80kgs, seeds.

Always PU, udo.

samerubi's picture
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samerubi Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:16am
zenagain wrote:

If you don't mind me asking Craig- what sort of board are you currently riding? Also, do you know in litres? I'm a bit younger and a bit lighter than you, but not by much.

I'm asking because I'm gonna bite the bullet and go longer, wider and thicker cause I've been struggling to get waves recently. Up and riding, no probs. Catching them is another matter.

Any other big units want to chime in, feel free.

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samerubi Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:21am

my mistake...
i am nearly 50 and 95kg.
i am enjoying riding an 80's style thruster by Gunther - about 37L.
the thing is about this style of thruster is they go in a really wide range of conditions.
from back in the day when most of us only had one board which had to do it all.
after chopping and changing boards every other surf i am finding i am surfing much better by staying on the one board.

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morg Wednesday, 30 Mar 2022 at 10:29am

@udo he's 5'10" 94kg (this week). Thing is he's not a skinny guy with a gut, over the years he's sort of filled out all over a bit like a pacific islander rugby players. He said that when he finds one round enough the legs and arms are about a foot to long LOL. He's decided to get a custom.

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groundswell Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022 at 8:55am
samerubi wrote:

my mistake...
i am nearly 50 and 95kg.
i am enjoying riding an 80's style thruster by Gunther - about 37L.
the thing is about this style of thruster is they go in a really wide range of conditions.
from back in the day when most of us only had one board which had to do it all.
after chopping and changing boards every other surf i am finding i am surfing much better by staying on the one board.

Three of my friends here in Kalbarri are brothers and sponsored by Gunther, he makes excellent boards and those brothers are some of the best surfers in this town. A town full of excellent surfers.(only 1100 people live here the ratio of good surfers to population is amazing)
But they are super fit, all three of them and ride id say around 28 litres on big days at Jakes.
The eldest brother has a video on youtube of him at gnaraloo getting a super long drainpipe at around 8-10 foot ill see if i can find it.Not as heavy as camels pit but pretty good.

udo's picture
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udo Tuesday, 5 Apr 2022 at 9:04am
frog's picture
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frog Tuesday, 28 Jun 2022 at 1:31pm

Your weight is just one factor in determining board volume and type. Another big one is nimbleness and "lightness on feet". Some surfers never have this. Most of us lose it over time.

Older guys who retain this "lightness" on the water through ability, lots of surfing and good genetics can surf much shorter, lower volume boards. At competitive spots they seem to be everywhere but this is just survival of the fittest - not reality for most.

Me? Once up and riding and in rhythm on a good wave with a longer wall, I do okay and probably look fairly fast in the speed zone and free flowing. But light-on-feet, instant speed is just not there at call day to day or on every wave. Sometimes I just want lazy speed. After a few hours in the water I slow down even more and volume helps.

Volume is therefore more than a simple formulae based on your weight. One guru's formula (pounds / 6) would have me on a 29 litre board!

Add five or ten litres every extra second it takes to get off the couch maybe.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 4:29pm

Been reading back through this thread and it’s been quite insightful and especially with regards to how things can change in a few short years.

Anyway, I'm finally coming home for a quick visit at the end of the month and am looking at buying a board off the rack. Actually, gonna buy it from here and have it sent to my mums to have it waiting upon my arrival. I haven't had much time to go down the custom path so was looking at a few boards and the Hypto Krypto kinda seems like a bit of an all-rounder. Hoping anyone can chime in with advice or personal experience (Frog maybe if you're out there?).

My weight is kinda holding at the 95kg mark and I exercise everyday but haven't been getting much time in the surf, so paddling fitness has waned quite a bit. I'm 54 years old now and still surf ok, just been struggling a bit to catch waves. Also, in winter, wearing all my kit can tip me just over the ton. I find it hard to lose weight, haven't touched a drop of alcohol in 6 months but the weight hasn't changed much as a result of that.

Long story short, is there much difference in 5 litres of board? I was thinking either of these two:-

6'6"
X
21"
X
3"
Futures
IN STOCK
45.52L

6'8"
X
22"
X
3 1/4"
FCS II
IN STOCK
51.4L

Which would would you suggest I go for? You reckon 45lt is enough for me which is pretty much a weekend surfer or should I go the extra 5lt and go 51? Anybody surfing these sorts of dimensions and how are they surfing as a result of that?

Little embarrassed writing this but fuck it, I just want to get waves.

Any and all responses most appreciated.

frog's picture
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frog Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 5:37pm

At 95kg plus wetsuit plus low fitness, 45 L will not let you cruise into waves.

In uncrowded, well lined up waves simply by good placement at the take off and the number of waves available, you will still do okay at that volume.

In crowds and where you have to hunt around, higher volume might be needed to grab the rarer opportunities.

At 45 L you could still duckdive - just. At 50L duck diving would be hard. Worth a thought.

Losing weight is not that hard IF you can stick to small portions and minimal snacking It just falls off. You have to say no to yourself a lot and have a simple lifestyle where you control the food. Cutting out bread for example made a big shift in my weight - both for the carbs per slice and the tendency to eat too much if it - finish the loaf, eat the extra roll while it is so fresh and yummy ....

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Supafreak Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:01pm

@zen , we are the same weight but I’m 7 years older . I had a 6’4” hypto when I first moved back to oz ( tweed heads ) and it was ok but I didn’t like the way it came of the top when doing a reo , just felt weird and like I was getting bogged down. I sold it after 6 months. I think the type of waves your riding really dictate the type of board you need . I’ve previously told you about MC hybrid reverse v 6’8” ( not sure about ltrs) I have as a board for fat junky slow crap that the we get served up 70% of the time in the tweed Gold Coast region. For my indo trip I brought a 6’2” custom Tomo hydroshort 38 ltrs and it goes good in 1-5 ft but as soon as there is any chop the epoxy doesn’t handle it well at all . I have a 6’8 “ 44 ltrs step up hydronaut which is LFT FireWire construction which in the hydronaut is a heavier blank and glass job. I’ve had this in solid 6-8ft and it goes unreal even if some chop and bump on the face . The hydronaut is a really good board but only if the waves are hollow and steep it’s very responsive but wasn’t a big seller as FireWire has dropped that model and only do the hydroshort which in helium is too corky. Tomos customs are different construction and expensive $1220 plus gst . There is a huge range of boards to consider and besides your age weight and fitness have a good think about the type of waves your surfing. Good luck with your choice, it’s not easy when there is so much to choose from .

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Fliplid Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:24pm

One thing to keep in mind is that the Hypto is wider up front than standard outlines so the extra foam under the chest means it’s going to paddle better than a more standard shape of similar dimensions. From memory they carry a bit more thickness through to the nose as well

A few mates were frothing on them when they first came out and they all went shorter than what they usually rode with no dramas. The EPS construction probably helps in that regard as well

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AndyM Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:27pm

I'd get the 6'8" Zen.
I'm 98kg, 50 years old and pretty fit and those dimensions are similar to my day-to-day board.
I'm done with anything smaller, it's just too hit and miss.
The glide on those bigger boards is great, lots of fun.
The downsides are obvious, they're a bitch to duckdive and they're not exactly fast rail to rail.
Having said that, in 3ft+ they get up and boogie just fine.

blackers's picture
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blackers Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:30pm

Good advice above Zen. I have heard the hypto can be really finicky size wise and easy to get it wrong. The MC reverse v's look excellent, but not sure how easy to get one in stock tho. My circumstances are not too dissimilar just turned 56, 95 kg, cold water, don't surf as much as I used to. That said I still ride short boards/fish around 40L and mids around 46L. You do notice the extra litres good and bad aspects. Good luck mate.

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:38pm

Zen dont forget Muzz ...........6'8" Pinger ?
https://pipedreamsurfboards.com/collections/boards-online

AndyM's picture
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AndyM Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 6:41pm

Highly recommend https://www.webstersurfboards.com.au, Webbie will sit and talk with you for as long as it takes until he's sure he knows what you're after.

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blackers Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 8:47pm

One last thing, Andy touched on it too, it’s the glide that keeps me coming back. Swooping turns, high line speed runs and all that. A bit of additional length helps but not too boaty. Really thick boards can be too hard to sink a rail when you want to. I’m 6’5” and have found up to 7’2” works well, my longer boards have more refined rails and roiled v bottoms which help. Edit: the 7’2” is 21 1/4 x 2 7/8 @ 47L. I reckon that Hypto may be too fat through the rails.

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 8:56pm

Cheers legends.

Ha ha- you're making it even harder now though.

I reckon I'll go bigger. My rip, tear, lacerate days are behind me. I'm just happy to get my glide on.

Thanks all for your responses.

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Supafreak Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 9:15pm

@zen , when I moved back to oz I was shocked at the price of boards and didn’t know what the fck people were talking about when they said “ how many litres ? “ also couldn’t believe fins didn’t come with board , what happened ? when I brought my hypto from the rack I said firmly to the salesman that there no way I was paying the $1099 price tag , he said no worries he would look after me and ended up costing $900 with decent fins , leggie , deck pad and block of wax . Glide on zen and enjoy your first trip back to oz since the pandemic started.

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zenagain Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 9:44pm

Cheers Supa, I'm really looking forward to getting home for a visit and hooking up with a few mates for a surf and of course seeing family and some of the new additions to the flock.

I'm still leaning towards the Hypto cause I'm a pretty much front foot surfer and I need a lot of foam foward.

MC shaped me a Dirty Dingo a few years back and that went so well. I've surfed that into the ground. If and when he gets back here, I'd like to get another one, just with a little extra meat. I've got a Pro-tow that I use when the surf gets good. Still in perfect nick.

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arcadia Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 11:16pm

Enjoy your trip back, Zen. I'll be back during August. I'm feeling a little giddy as it's my first visit in 5 years.

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zenagain Saturday, 2 Jul 2022 at 11:37pm

You too mate. I was last back home Oct 2017.

Probs won't recognise the place.

freeride76's picture
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freeride76 Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 10:47am

Hey Zen, I'll echo the comments on the Hypto rail volume.

they get, very, very chunky.

Easy board to hire.

Could you take the two for a test drive and see which one you prefer?

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groundswell Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 10:58am

i also agree with freeride, i usually surf front footed as i mostly used to surf fish over east coast but never liked my hypto. But i didnt buy one till i got to west oz and it didnt gel with the waves i was surfing. (not heavy waves either)Sold it to a 6'4 Friend who loved it at small jakes but it was way too small for him and he sold it and bought a bigger one.I dont know if he's front footed or not. Also i cant surf as well as i used to and it takes me longer to get used to new shapes but i dont think they are for everyone.

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groundswell Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 2:20pm

One shaper i would talk to Zen is Mark Pridmore, ask about the quadfather i got the very first one and he named the design quadfather after that and has kept it pretty similar since and everyone loves the glide and round tail mckee quad turning ability. Thats a board designed in 2007 and still going strong and getting more orders all the time. When i was fit at first it felt a bit boaty for my 65 or 70 kg (6'6" length board 12 inch nose i think)but in bigger waves it handled 8 foot moneytrees drops without bogging like some thinner boards did i had it designed as a step up from twin keels as in bigger waves that fish dont like too much,high performance step ups or mini guns were too narrow for my feels and felt too turny or wobbly.
I had a 6'8 mini gun that was 18 inches wide and surfed it on a 8 foot reef in Wollongong and couldnt handle the narrow width after riding 20" wide fish. kooked it and wasted my 2 hour lunchbreak surf which was an epic day that i missed out on because i couldnt surf a normal mini gun. I was fit but just couldnt surf a 18" wide mini gun. anyway the quadfather was a treat. However my mate got one and he was used to high performance shortboard shapes and didnt like his quadfather. He didnt ride fish though. Bodyboards, shortboards and step ups mainly. Hes a marathon runner and super fit lives in indonesia most of the time and rips any board but just didnt like his quadfather as he said it felt like too much board.
I think its a 12 inch nose from memory.Anyway if your mums place is in QLD i recommend you talk to MP about some of his designs.Hes on the sunshine coast and on facebook.
Another good design my mate loved was his fatbat. not a bigger wave board, more small to 5 foot day board and my mate said he preferred it to my banksy fish i gave him.The banks fish was the best board i ever owned.

udo's picture
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udo Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 2:35pm
zenagain's picture
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zenagain Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 2:40pm

Cheers guys. I'm not sure about test driving cause I'm really pressed for time and tbh I'm returning home at not the happiest of times (my mum is very ill) so my focus is family first.

I've just been poking around online and the Hypto kinda stands out with the low rocker, lotta foam forward and pulled in tail. I've been kinda transitioning organically in the last few years from HPSB's to more hybridy shapes. I'm cognizant of the width and chunky rails of the big Hypto but the surf I surf in here is kinda reminiscent of east coast oz. Also, I do have a good step-up if the waves get big and good, but my bread and butter days are what I'm looking at.

Cheers Groundy, I'd like to speak to a shaper but I've kinda left it too late and got other things on my mind atm. I'm just worried that 50+ litres is a boat, but my main priority is to get waves. Turns are secondary sadly.

Ps- I'm not a total cripple. I'm reasonably fit, just struggled last winter with all my kit aod a couple of really good days when I should have been all over it left me really disappointed, hence pulling the trigger and going fat and wide.

Fark- I'm so confused ha ha!

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AlfredWallace Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 4:14pm
zenagain wrote:

Cheers guys. I'm not sure about test driving cause I'm really pressed for time and tbh I'm returning home at not the happiest of times (my mum is very ill) so my focus is family first.

I've just been poking around online and the Hypto kinda stands out with the low rocker, lotta foam forward and pulled in tail. I've been kinda transitioning organically in the last few years from HPSB's to more hybridy shapes. I'm cognizant of the width and chunky rails of the big Hypto but the surf I surf in here is kinda reminiscent of east coast oz. Also, I do have a good step-up if the waves get big and good, but my bread and butter days are what I'm looking at.

Cheers Groundy, I'd like to speak to a shaper but I've kinda left it too late and got other things on my mind atm. I'm just worried that 50+ litres is a boat, but my main priority is to get waves. Turns are secondary sadly.

Ps- I'm not a total cripple. I'm reasonably fit, just struggled last winter with all my kit aod a couple of really good days when I should have been all over it left me really disappointed, hence pulling the trigger and going fat and wide.

Fark- I'm so confused ha ha!

Zen. Surfing aside, hope your mother is going to be fine. We all hope it works out positive for you and her.

frog's picture
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frog Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 4:29pm

Watched a guy i know on a longer crypto. He was catching a lot of waves and had good speed. Sort of doing straight line surfing but to me that is often a choice - or an unintentional habit.

If the basics are right - volume and length - most modern boards can be made to work and surf loose if you want. Each will have its strengths and weaknesses and most importantly their sweet spots.

Sooooo many people surf further forward than their board's sweet spot and rarely carve. This can be out of habit or they blame the board.

My current board can surf 2 ft longer than it is if my feet are not placed right. But still surprises me with its looseness if my feet are back further. Ideally, I would like its nose pulled in a bit to fit the waves curves(one of those round nose models) but just live with it and mostly surf around the issue.

In short, I am sure the Crypto can do the job if you take time to understand it.

blackers's picture
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blackers Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 5:01pm

Best wishes to you and your mum Zen hope it turns out okay.

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blackers Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 5:01pm

Best wishes to you and your mum Zen hope it turns out okay.

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groundswell Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 5:58pm

+1

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seaslug Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 8:30pm

Feeling for you Zen, best wishes to you and your mum

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zenagain Sunday, 3 Jul 2022 at 8:49pm

Cheers guys.

I'll make it work. Just gotta define the subtleties and let the waves do their thing.

blackers's picture
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blackers Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 6:25pm

Have you looked at a DHD Black Diamond Zen?

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zenagain Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 6:27pm

Funny you should mention that Blackers- it's either that or the Hypto. I was gonna put it out there and ask if anyone was familiar with one.

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freeride76 Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 6:41pm

I've felt up a few Zen.

Like the Hypto they get very, very bulky in the rail as they volume up.

blackers's picture
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blackers Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 6:48pm

Was worried that was the case, maybe a “high(er) performance “ mid length together the glide you were after without the flab. Got my Cosmic Twin delivered today. Hippy daze!

udo's picture
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udo Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 6:49pm
icandig's picture
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icandig Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 7:20pm

Just to confuse you a little more Zen - along the same lines of a Black Diamond, but a squash tail. JS Monsta Box Easyrider. Still has lowish rails. Foam a bit forward, big sweet spot - can step forward for glide, step back for turns. OK for duckdiving. I'm 58 and 93kgs - 186 cm been wearing a 4 mm steamer. Mine is 6'6" x 21.5" x 3".

https://www.jsindustries.com/surfboards/the-vault/monsta-box-2020-squash...

Only surfed in small waves so far. Pretty easy to catch waves and feels positive in most situations. (Surf Coast - and once in the pool).

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Island Bay Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 8:15pm
udo's picture
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udo Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 8:37pm

Send the Sarong King around to pick this up for you Zen..its on the Goldy seller will take $150
for it....perfect cheap fill in untill you know what you want......
https://www.facebook.com/marketplace/item/1173004879908670?ref=search&re...
metabo oyagi..will dig the performance of this Craft

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lostdoggy Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 8:50pm
udo's picture
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udo Friday, 8 Jul 2022 at 9:51pm

Steve Del Rossa makes a nice board and understands what Bigger Gents need.
https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/currumbin/surfing/6-4-x-21-3-4-x-2-7-8-c...

zenagain's picture
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zenagain Saturday, 9 Jul 2022 at 7:07am

Geez Udo, you have an amazing memory.

Cheers gents. I reckon the Hypto cause ones available right now and I guess if I don't like it I can sell it here cause of the brand recognition.

I think I'll be right though- winter not far off and I'm gonna need every bit of those litres.