The Mid-Lengths That Ate Surfing

Steve Shearer picture
Steve Shearer (freeride76)
Swellnet Dispatch

Have we just passed a milestone in surfing without really noticing? Passed a threshold that might only appear significant in retrospect?

I'm talking about the almost complete domination of the surfboard market by the mid-length.

It seems worth our while to take a moment to survey the scene.

My first inkling that we might have reached a boiling frog moment was when my brother texted me raving about the Lost Track Atlantic films - a series of cinematic explorations that function as the ultimate endorsement of the mid-length, particularly the mid-length twin. I'd been a bit blasé because I'd seen it happening day by day at my local. Watching Torren do his thing at the point had become totally commonplace. I didn't realise the impact it would have in the wider world.

Torren on equipment that responds to shuffling forward of the wide point (Ishka Folkwell/needessentials)

Simon Jones, the shaper of Torren's twins and a man who might lay claim to being the hottest shaper on Earth right now, has such a backlog he's shut off orders for the year. Remember when Asian popouts were going to kill the custom shaper? Now the custom shapers are so busy building boards that have nothing to do with the professional tour or competitive surfing they are turning away business.

Luckily, the big boys are stepping up to fill the void. JS has a mid-length twin on the books, Pyzel has the Mid-Length Crisis, while over at Santa Barbara the CI Mid is, according to my intelligence deep within the surfboard industry, their biggest selling surfboard. Ponder that for a second: A company with performance DNA encoded into every facet of their existence is now selling more mid-lengths than any other board.

Julian Wilson - remember him? - our last true title contender just dropped a clip riding a Big Baron, the JS mid-length twin. Other sponsored pros getting in on the act: the Guduaskas Brothers in California, Craig Anderson in Australia, are all giving the audience a soft shoe shuffle to easy listening music on the mid-length. You could make an argument that the influence of Mikey February is far greater on his twin pins off the tour than riding high performance boards on it.

Something is happening here Mr Jones, and we don't know what it is.

The origin of the mid-length is murky. No doubt it's an artifact of the Shortboard Revolution; a remnant of a rapid transitional stage that was raced through and largely abandoned as board length dropped from 10 foot to 5 foot-something. George Greenough shaped a 6 foot shortboard in high school that was basically a shrunken longboard. His next effort, a 7'8” balsa board named 'Baby', built in 1962, was much more sophisticated. With the pulled in nose and modern mid-length template it would not look out of place in a current line-up.

These proto-typical shortboard concepts were picked up by Greenough proteges: Mike Cundith in California, working out of the Santa Barbara Wilderness factory, and Bob McTavish who roamed both edges of the Pacific. Bob McTavish's 7'10” Rincon Tracker, built in January 1968 in Ventura, with a pulled nose and tail, but sufficient planing area to distinguish it from Brewer mini-guns, remains the prime template and high point in mid-length evolutionary advancement before boards quickly shrunk to below 6 foot. Wayne Lynch's board designs in conjunction with South Australian builder John Arnold and featured in Paul Witzig's trilogy: Sea of Joy, Evolution, and Hot Generation were seen as state of the art and facilitated the modern turning style of surfing.

Fast forward a few decades and it's McTavish who deserves the credit for rescuing the mid-length from it's fossilised position, buried beneath decades of ultra-commercialised pro surf led culture. In a 2000 article for The Surfers Journal, McTavish describes “kicking over the traces” of the shortboard era and discovering the paddle power, manouvreability, and flat out trim of the 7'0” to 7'6” length boards. With modern rail profiles and bottom contours the results were revelatory to the ageing legend.

One man who has ploughed this field since his own foray into the pro surfing world and has refined a range of designs in that genre is Neal Purchase Jnr. He sees some of the interest from the big name manufacturers as bandwagon jumping: “They see a market and they want a piece of it”, he tells me. “It's a bit stinky”.

The phenomenon has multiple causes, no doubt. Purcho identifies the changing, ageing demographic of surfers. “Guys in the 90's have hung onto shortboards as long as they can”, he says, yet board with flatter rockers and more length, “paddle better and run better”. People catch more waves, have more fun. That equation is incredibly simple.

The explosion of new surfers brought on by new work from home requirements catalysed by the COVID 19 pandemic has been a huge factor. People with more flexibility, more time, and who are unable to do the things they might have otherwise done have turned to surfing in unprecedented numbers. Absolute beginners, or close to it, can get on a mid-length and cut the green face. More experienced surfers feel that to compete in the arms race they need the paddle power of a mid-length. The genre also suits surfers coming back from injury, or other lay-offs.

A less tangible factor, I believe, is that the mid-length is completely outside of any competitive architecture. The Woz 'owns' longboarding, it also owns the Big Wave Tour, as well as the multiple levels of the shortboard tour on a global scale.

There is no Mid-Length Tour, nor is there any likelihood of one. Zero chance of Torren's surfing being boxed up and a number put on it.

Lost Track Atlantic's last instalment was dropped around the same time as the Woz ran a longboard comp at Kelly's tub. Watching judges trying to throw scores at logs riding machine-made waves was one of the most surreal, soul-numbing spectacles imaginable. The contrast between that and Torren's free-wheeling searching and surfing was intense. Vast.

Simple planshapes, no colours, no stickers. Torren saves the statement-making for the waves (Ishka Folkwell/needessentials)

Speculating that mid-length surfing is a kind of backlash against the Wozzle's corporate control of surfing might be an over-reach, but it doesn't seem so crazy to admit the cultural dominance of one over the other.

Remember the breathless claims made by Woz CEO Erik Logan that the Olympics were going to bring on a boom in competitive surfing and that visibility would enable up and coming CT surfers to ride a wave of outside sponsorship?

You probably weren't watching the Challenger Series event in Portugal, held at a long chubby right-hander that looks like Bells on a bad day, but I did. It was a slog but I wanted to keep tabs on the Australian aspirants. They did pretty good. One young fellow by the name of Callum Robson is on the cusp of qualifying for the CT next year and you've never heard of him.

I barely had either, and despite the fact he lives 45 minutes down the road from me, I've never seen him surf.

Torren Martyn is a global surf star. Yet as for Callum Robson, a guy on the cusp of the big leagues, his local boardriders club, Half-Tide Boardriders, are selling raffle tickets and running a GoFundMe page to help him get to the next comp.

The disconnect between where the bulk of the recreational surfer mindset is at and competitive surfing seems at an all-time high to me. At least if we follow the money.

The money, the films, the board sales from mainstream board builders. The waiting lists for the custom builders who specialise in the design.

Are mid-lengths a symptom or a cause? A crutch for a culture grown old and decrepit? A rebellion against corporate control? An easier way to have fun in the sun? A sign of Dave Parmenters's predicted kookocracy finally ascending to the centre of the frame, at least by weight of numbers?

I say: All of the above.

How do you see it..?

// STEVE SHEARER

Comments

blindboy's picture
blindboy's picture
blindboy Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:27am

I think you are right though locally it seems mainly older crew. I had a chat with one of them in the water the other day and for him it was all about wave catching while retaining a level of performance. They don't really appeal to me as I have always loved the feeling of burying a rail. 6'2" and 6'6" are my everyday boards but I am thinking about something in 7'0" range for next winter.

benwaa's picture
benwaa's picture
benwaa Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 8:46pm

I can understand most surfers sticking to what they know - a HP thruster in a certain volume range and nothing else... but I've always been amazed at how most surfers are staunchly partisan and won't try riding something shorter, wider, longer, thicker or all of the above.. surely we're all interested in surfing first and foremost, so why doesn't "repertoire" figure highly in our surfing experience. I just think most staunch shortboarders have been missing out for years. The penny is finally dropping.. Ride everything.!

Charlie Brown's picture
Charlie Brown's picture
Charlie Brown Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:30am

It's a genius marketing move - get kids like Torren ripping on the mids and watch them fly off the shelves as aging men the wrong side of 85kg embrace that extra foam without the shame that comes with a longboard or mini-mal.

Ardy's picture
Ardy's picture
Ardy Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:09am

You don’t have to be aging to be over 85 kgs some people are just big boned :)

gingeryeti's picture
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gingeryeti Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:11am

Or over 190cms tall. If you’re 85kgs and over 190 you look like a teenager or a heroin addict.

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:37am

Spot on. My standard short board is my height, 6'6". Have seen it mentioned as a step up or mid length dim for years.

jayet-010's picture
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jayet-010 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 4:11pm

Except none of this has been planned ... other than the major labels seeing and capitalising on a major market ... and why wouldn't you, if you were them!

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:32am

I see it basically the same way NPJ see's it in the article- irrespective of style which is entirely subjective, mid-lengths are easy to surf, forgiving, catch waves easily and importantly, pretty fun. Also, for the older surfer getting a bit rusty or someone just starting out, they up your wave count which is probably the main reason.
I've been riding mine (which is a 6'10" funboard that I've ditched the centre fin) and tbh while it doesn't exactly pivot, I'm getting waves and having fun and in the same time doing little things here and there that I wouldn't normally do on a HPS.

Ps- been enjoying these SS articles.

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:37am

Good article, thanks.
I had a go on a JS Big Baron and paddling catching waves etc was unreal, and really fast on wave. Still went back to standard short board after a couple of surfs as found it hard to pull in straight off from take off, and missed some potential pits in my mind. Love the Torren films, such an incredible surfer, but reckon I would enjoy them with the travel aspect etc just as much with someone like Laurie Towner on a thruster. Great there are so many options these days, pity about the crowds. Swings and roundabouts....

burzum's picture
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burzum Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:00pm

Epic! Thanks for sharing that.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:19pm

Mmmm, stick to a local shaper they say ..... it's been awhile so its time for another airing. Please enjoy.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:28pm

"come screamin' out that saltwater fanny like an 8 pound babe of stoke..."

Yew!

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:32pm

That's quality right here zen :)

andy-mac's picture
andy-mac's picture
andy-mac Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 4:04pm

Classic!!

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:04pm

Ha ha. Cruel but fair, Andy.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:04am

My next board is going board have 18 decibels of volume, I want it louder

bonza's picture
bonza's picture
bonza Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:58am

Its a mini-mal. Ya'll ride mini-mals. own it.

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:12pm

Well put.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:02pm

I haven't ridden one but they are nothing like a mini mal if the length is 7' or under, more like an old single fin on roids.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:08pm
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:18pm

I suppose I am referring to the twin pin plan shape and many of Simons sleeker machines. This Baron look pretty mally I agree.

bonza's picture
bonza's picture
bonza Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:33pm

just taking the piss memla. ride whatev's.
for me if its under 3ft - i'm usually on a clubby paddle board having fun well away from crew i might add- safety first ;0

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:43pm

Yeah I knew you were trying to wind up the crew, I was calling the mini mals as well until I got into this rabbit hole I just over excited about talking design after surfing single fins first (1970's), then twinnies (late 70's early 80's) and thrusters ever since. I like thrusters in certain waves but they now feel a bit staid and slow unless you can ride them as a pro blade which I am well and truly past.

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:11pm

mini mals for sure

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:04pm

Remember a couple of years ago when the same crew were riding 5’3”s……

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 11:01am

Sure do, watched Parko try to ride a 5'3" or something at Snapper in a promotional vid, and figured if he had to milk it that bad, the recreational surfer stood no chance.

mezkal's picture
mezkal's picture
mezkal Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:07pm

If you could get an interview with Trenny from Margs that would be interesting. One of the finest surfer/shapers of all the generations. Only ever rode 7'7s for years. Big wave ones, small wave ones, tube riding ones, same dimensions, just tweaking the foil. He's been on this trip for years. So much knowledge as a shaper, I've seen his files. And as a surfer, the gentleman on land just charges when in the juice. All on his " mid lengths " as we now call them. Be an interesting story Stu ??

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:12pm

I have never ridden one, and probably will not.
I wonder how they go in the shitty beach break close-outs that make up 90% of surfing in the real world? To be fair, they are probably fun in long peelers with nice take-offs, but that is not what most people are surfing.

If older surfers are getting them for ease of paddle, are they also all moving to 7 mile beach, or your local equivalent, so that the take-off is easy, or are they expecting them to suddenly be able to jump up in the same conditions where they have previously been too tired and old to paddle and get up quick enough?

If adult beginners are getting hooked on them for ease of paddle and learning, then that's great! Their performance increase will stagnate sooner, and hopefully they'll get bored and pack it in sooner ... leaving the frothing grommets on short-boards to take back control.

I do not have anything against the boards themselves, as I said I have never ridden one, but also can see no conditions where it would be better than a standard board (short or gun) or a short twinny at places where I surf.

I think the phase will die out, as the hipsters (so I am told in this area) that ride them move onto the next trendy fad.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:33pm

With the extra volume and earlier paddle entry you can surf them in hollower, faster beach breaks. You get in early and can get in behind the peak as well. I'd rather surf a shorty in those conditions but the mid is fun at times as well.

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:53pm

What sort of volume are these things? I agree with the sentiment of preferring a shorty for many reasons in these conditions, if not least of all, because when my board hits me I would rather it break then me.

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:58pm

This is true, I'm always very careful and selective and try and bail a certain way to miss the board. Not sure the volume of mine.

BSM86's picture
BSM86's picture
BSM86 Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:13pm

At 35 and now weighing over 90kgs, I've found coverting to a mid length the best thing I've ever done. I was getting bored of trying the same turns on similar shortboards for the past 25yrs. I now get twice as many wave, I get in to steep barrels far earlier and quicker Although they go faster, i feel it slows my surfing down and i enjoy the wave more then ripping as many turns i can to the beach.
I admit there not for everyone but definitely hold a place in the line up and i dont think they will be going anywhere soon.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:15pm

There is much in what you say epictard.

I’m hoping a lot of people who have got into surfing recently and are riding them, and former surfers coming back because that’s all they could do during covid, will find these boards growing cobwebs in the back of the garage.

smooth table's picture
smooth table's picture
smooth table Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:33pm

The mid length will make the short board grovel in the right conditions and visa versa!

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:50pm

Waves where a 'mid-length would make a short-board grovel' is exactly where the short twinny comes into its own I reckon. I have a 5'6" 35L twinny for days when it's too small or fat for the short board. Lots of foam for paddling into little dribblers, but due to the lack of length you can really get them at all sorts of fun angles where a mid-length would probably have to be maintained a lot flatter.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:14pm

I reckon they would be real fun in over 5' solid swell if they are similar to the outlines I have been seeing. Area up front for paddling (but not a rounded nose mini mal) then a tapered rear with a rounded pin, channels, and the big twin fins. I have a 5'9" with this set up and is so much fun and you don't have to constantly push the thing if it flattens out. Great in tubes as you can surf them way up the front or rear. To be honest I don't see how I could go back to a thruster as they seem slow in most waves and I am too old to do anything approaching a pro maneuver, and the board is still only 5'9" but 30 litres (I am 5'6" and 64 kilo).

geek's picture
geek's picture
geek Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:29pm

"I reckon they would be real fun in over 5' solid swell if they are similar to the outlines I have been seeing. Area up front for paddling (but not a rounded nose mini mal) then a tapered rear with a rounded pin, channels, and the big twin fins."

I have a 6'10' rounded pin thruster mid with high wide point for the 5-6ft+ chunky reef days on the MP. It plows through anything, paddles really well and good for long drawn out turns. Picked it up brand new as a factory second super cheap back before they were cool too! I'm 6'4 so its actually not that big compared to my height, can throw it around a bit

belly's picture
belly's picture
belly Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:40pm

I've got a 7'2" mini-mal (short story, owned from stick -> lid -> stick transition), only ever ride it if knee height. Have a crook back and find too much board to manoeuvre, swinging for take-offs, duck-diving and the like.

Until I'm significantly older I'll be on <6'7"s and circa 40 litres or under, don't ride HPSBs per se but there is so much variety in modern shortboards to get the right tool I don't see the point.

As per epictard also seem to need the right peeling waves, for this reason see very few on the south coast as mostly beachies with the odd fickle point or rivermouth day, and even then the cruiser waves tend to get taken over by the modern mal and SUP crew.

garyg1412's picture
garyg1412's picture
garyg1412 Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:48pm

Horses for courses. If you're a fit 50 year old who's in the water most days then the mid length/mini mal probably doesn't have to enter the equation. For us unfit part-timers - well it's a different story. I will say though that you would be surprised what types of waves you can throw a decent mid length board into.

Roker's picture
Roker's picture
Roker Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 12:59pm

When I was still buying SW quite a while back it seemed every second story was about Ellis Ericson riding what I think were McTavish inspired mid lengths.

I'm thinking those things are gonna be flying outta the racks at stores around Melbourne with lockdown ending and summer approaching.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:13pm


haggis's picture
haggis's picture
haggis Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 8:46am

Thanks for the uploads. Amazing how quickly trends last in surfing. This time last year it was all about the seaside.

anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:35pm

I have a 7'0 custom from a local shaper on the surf coast that more or less follows the plan shape of the CI Mid. This thing excels in chest to overhead but is less fun in smaller beachies or small slow points. I view it more as an over volumed step up @41L.

When there is a bit of push in the wave it really turns on and while it definitely surfs less critically than something more high performance it is still heaps of fun to surf. I had thought I would be on it most of the time but I think I'm surfing it maybe 30% of the time but part of the fun is being able to ride different types of boards ... right?

epictard's picture
epictard's picture
epictard Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 2:08pm

"the fun is being able to ride different types of boards ... right?"
- Right. If you have found your spot and conditions for it, then more power to you.
Also, not using it when the conditions call for something else.

Ricko2526's picture
Ricko2526's picture
Ricko2526 Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:33pm

I made a 7 6 twin in the first lockdown last year and became labelled as a local Torren. I now ride it about 80% of the time (arms race, crowds, versatility and pure fun). From the recent Simon Jones interview he makes a point about going from short boards to these twin mids - if you adapt short board riding to a mid, you can maintain a degree of performance surfing, albeit in a different style. A lot of the new covid surfers on mids and mals may not develop their surfing by only ever riding these high volume boards

Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous's picture
Ape Anonymous Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:42pm

By far, the best mid-lengths I've ever seen are made by Paulo Biancinotti in Mona Vale: http://pbcustomsurfboards.com/

In comparison, everything else is just pure dog shit.

With 30 years of experience under his belt, a master craftsman, PB used to manage and oversee the operations at Channel Islands. He trained under Timmy Patterson and some of the best shapers in the world. Ignoring his equipment when making a choice in the realm of this specific type of surfboard design is like forgoing a modern Tesla to buy an old beat-up 6 cylinder Torana as a daily-use city car - a fucking absurd proposition unless you are looking only for nostalgia.

Arguably, one of the best glassers in Australia, ladies and gentlemen, look no further for high performance, high quality equipment at a reasonable price. Get em' while they're hot!

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 11:06am

the Torana will be going up in value while the Tesla depreciates, so if you want to bank some coin*

*Toranas already attaining crazy money so you'll need inherited wealth to get one these days...

Slucas's picture
Slucas's picture
Slucas Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 1:45pm

It's simple they are just so much fun. I'm over 50 and ride a 7'0 single with trailers (7'8 always in car incase it's small). To me surfing is about having fun and if you are, it does not matter what you ride. PS Not a Hipster just getting old and slowing down graciously

Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com's picture
Thegrowingtrend.com Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 2:50pm

Ride my 6,10 evo in anything without to push then I ride my 7-0

Love short boarding when the waves allow.

That’s the luxury of surfing.... choose your weapon

blackers's picture
blackers's picture
blackers Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 2:51pm

Have a few in the shed, and as has been said above, they go in the right waves. Got hooked when I picked up. 6’9” Vouch displacement hull on a whim 15 odd years ago. Still have it and it comes out a few times a year when I need to regain some stoke. Just a different way of surfing. Fun is the operative word.

cleelo's picture
cleelo's picture
cleelo Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 2:58pm

Just need to make the point that there is a big difference between a mini mal and a mid length. A mini mal is shaped like a mal with parallel rails, round nose, minimal rocker and usually has a wide round nose and single fin. A mid length is a performance shape with either a thruster or twin fin, has more length and volume than a short board and can be ridden in a wider range of wave sizes and shape. Great for 66 year old farts like me !

stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_ Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:13pm

I disagree. Its up for debate but imo, minimals generally have "mal" like outlines with "shortboard" like foils and rockers, and most frequently a 3 fin set up.

Mid lengths adopt a range of different outlines, some of which a similar to minimals but can range from wide point forward 70s style single fin outlines, to fish to evenly curved eggs. I think the defining characteristic of a mid length is its low rocker and foil. Can be 1,2,3,4 or bonzer fin set up

stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_ Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:15pm

Ill add to that, that I believe there is a level of finesse and skill required to surf a "mid length" well, but the minimal is generally designed to be highly forgiving

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:26pm

You nailed it Steve, I haven't seen many of the dunga (double ended dogs) shapes, more the 70's forward type down this way.

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:23pm

they are a fancy mini mal made to sort of look like a short board to look cool

Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 5:37am

I have been doing my own research on this …..a mini-mal is a smaller version of a bigger board designed to keep the paddle power of a bigger board but the ‘turnability’ of a smaller board,….whereas the midlength is a bigger version of a smaller board designed to keep the ‘turnability’ of a smaller board whilst gaining the paddle power of a bigger board. Clearly different …for example who would watch a four part youtube series about a guy surfing a mini-mal

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 6:33am

I stand corrected, makes sense now, a middie turns more like a shortboard but paddles like a longboard, whereas a mini mal paddles like a longboard but turns more like a short board. Or is it the other way around?
Sounds like a trigger brother old man board that they have been making for over a decade. Although I think their old man board may paddle like a shortboard but turn like a longboard.
By the way, I watched both series, New Zealand and Atlantic. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought he was riding a short longboard a mini mal, a bloody spoiler that he was on a long shortboard, not a short long board.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:27am

Yes I see the conundrum you may need to mediate on this one grasshopper.

Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:29am

twini-mals is where I have landed on this one

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:34am

Naaaahhh, look at Craigs that is not a mini mal or one of those Trigger hotdog shapes that Finbob seems to love.

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:48am

same outline as my 13 yr old daughters 7.0 middie just hers is a shovel nose

Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 12:55pm

I would say though Rory Oke has been shaping some very nice round pin tail 6'6 Twins with flyers and channels that I've been tempted by.....need to empty out some of the old boards to make room

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 1:58pm

Yep a guy Ryan's age Jack has got one and loves it even surfs it at the heads.

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 2:16pm

A skinny fat guy who is a mountain range rides one at tiber now and loves it. My brother has one too but he also drives a land rover

Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach's picture
Oceanbeach Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 2:24pm

selling my Land Rover so I can actually afford to buy a surfboard....instead of mechanic bills

Craig's picture
Craig's picture
Craig Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:30pm

Yep, my 7'4" middy is the older school style single but way more refined. Tail comes in nice and thin and hard. Nothing like a mini-mal.

cleelo's picture
cleelo's picture
cleelo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:37am

Hey Steve, yes there are all kinds of crossovers and in betweens but for me at 66 its all about still being able to put up a bit of spray and traditional mini mals just don't do it especially of the top. Mids allow you to still carve it while also helping with wave catching and getting through flat sections.

bonza's picture
bonza's picture
bonza Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:16pm

A High Performance Mini-Mal?

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:25pm

Enjoyed the article and comments but are mid lengths all that new perhaps more underground? I expanded my quiver to include alternative length/fin boards after Kidman's Litmus (1996) and Glass Love (2004) and One California Day (2007). 6 ounce boardstore in Bondi was my favourite candy store for keels, singles and 2+1s. In One California Day Tudor and Howard rip on mid lengths but more broadly I wonder whether mid lengths have always been part of West Coast surfing in the US ... I'm thinking Frye, Bing, Tudor, Rainbow etc. I know people say don't jump around too much from board to board but it does keep it fresh and hey they are so much fun, cheers

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 4:31pm

"but are mid lengths all that new perhaps more underground?"

Reckon the question is more so, how and why they moved from the fringe to the centre? They've been a thing for a while now, originally called eggs, or mini-mals, or...ugh, 'fun-boards', but now they're mid-lengths and they're dominating the marketplace.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 10:19pm

Yes, much better put stu, cheers

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 2:44pm

"Black wetsuits, white surfboards, style, respect. All of those things were super-important."

Looks like Cali/San Diego is leading the way again. Massive influence which has been bubbling up from the undercurrents since the Seedling - or Curren's fish - or the resurgence of longboarding. Now it's in full bloom worldwide.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:17pm

I have a couple middys now. A Chris Garret and a Machado Sunday. I love them both..they are not mini mals and don't feel like a mini mal. I use them mainly at Burleigh due to the long paddleout and my shoulders not liking too long a paddle. Any beachy or if I surf Kirra or similar I pull out my Seaside 5.10. It's good to mix up what you ride...a mid in a 3/4ft peeling wave is pretty farking rad imo.

ScottWilliams's picture
ScottWilliams's picture
ScottWilliams Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 6:31pm

Hey Roadkill,

I picked up my middy from Chris G last week. Gone a bit longer at 7'6. Haven't been able to get in out in anything decent yet. Will be great we get something going through the Rainbow / Greeny stretch.

Roadkill's picture
Roadkill's picture
Roadkill Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 7:39pm

ScottWilliams,
I love Garrett, this is my 5th. I have a tiny whinge that it is a bit heavy (that’s why I have the Machado Sunday in Helium)…but in the right conditions it is so rad. I just love it. I love Chris’s board art also and it was pretty cool to give him what I wanted art wise and for him to get it spot on.

ScottWilliams's picture
ScottWilliams's picture
ScottWilliams Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 7:50pm

Its my first one. I have an old 8' Hot Buttered by Wayne Deane that I love when we get decent swell. I asked around and Chris's name came up as someone who was close to Wayne and would have a good chance of being able to get something that goes similar but no bigger than 7'6. Cant wait to get something decent to try it on.

JulianB's picture
JulianB's picture
JulianB Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:00am

Helps when that sweep is running at Burleigh

amb's picture
amb's picture
amb Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:48pm

Anyone surfed a CI Mid (1 single & 2 smaller sides) as a twin , not with the smaller sides but the larger tradition twin fins? thinking of giving it a go.

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[email protected] Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 3:52pm

Aloha nui LT. All that about the Greenough/Aussie inspired genesis of the so-called modern midlength and not a squeak about Ted Spencer? Shame on you. 
It was those early eggy OZ transition shapes and seeing movies of Lynch and Spencer that prompted the progeny of many of our Hawaiian-shaped midlengths.
Over here they’ve always been an essential part of any serious Hawaiian surfer’s quiv and on the right day and right wave a middy absolutely rules.
I’ve got a 7’0 Eberly Bolt Maui shaped circa 1990, glassed by Jack Reeves, parked on my rack that still gets its rail buried on the regular.
Those Big Baron carbon fusions look fun too.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 4:02pm

Another great article. I love that it asks questions of us, instead of just laying out the map, so to speak.

Re Parmenter, don't forget that he designed one of the first proper mid lengths, the Stubb Vector. A super functional board, and ahead of its time.

While I fit the demographic, my foray into this shitstorm came from a different angle: keep two boards max in our previous location, covering tiny and fat to solid OH and heavy. I went with a 6'4 Webster DS for good to great waves, and a 7'2 Chilli Mid Strength for small to OH and slopey.

The Chilli has been a revelation. It feels so nice to ride, and is the weirdest Big Guy Shortboard, rather than a drawn out middy. Will go straight up and pivot, yet also cruise on longboard waves.

Will be interesting to see what happens when Covid (sort of) goes back in its hole, and people go back to work.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:38pm

Island Bay......yeah have the same chilli..mid strength ... fun board for sure.....what fins do you prefer ?....

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 6:00pm

Limited by the fact that it's FCS.

Running FCS2 Carver quads. Feels great, but will also try my favourite quad setup: Captain Fin McCallum quad (all same size; all flat foil).

wally's picture
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wally Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 4:17pm

When he was 14, Julian Wilson was the Australian Junior Longboard Champion.

saltwatersurf's picture
saltwatersurf's picture
saltwatersurf Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 4:20pm

Most of us don't really have competitive surfing aspirations. As a mere mortal, I love the feel of working in unison with a wave, rather than declaring war. A mid-length seems the right fit for this way of surfing. Short boards remain the ultimate search and destroy weapon for those who enjoy that approach. Each to their own, whatever floats your particular boat.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 11:31am

Agree, surfing with the wave is bliss.

regano's picture
regano's picture
regano Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:00pm

A combination of factors is driving the interest in mid lengths. An aging surfing demographic is one but not the only factor. A good mid length should surf like a short board but with the bonus of paddle power and extra waves. In our increasingly crowded surf, more waves equals more fun. It's as simple as that. I've had a McTavish 7'2" Carver for nearly 10 years and it's a one size fits all board. Last but not least least. Many older surfers succumb to neck related problems, cervicogenic head aches for example. From my experience, short board surfing makes it worse due to the extra paddle effort required and reduced floatation. Mid lengths reduce that stress.

Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19's picture
Hutchy 19 Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:16pm

I have no trouble digging in a rail on my mal (9ft ) or my mid length board ( 8ft ) . Look at the guys surfing Jaws on big waves surfing big boards .

As I am over 60 and not always surfing fit it is all about catching waves .

Riding them is the easy part .

Unfortunately my short board days are over . So are round house cut backs on anything under 5ft .

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:00pm

Hey Hutch
you could try a smaller fin in the tail (7") in a 3 fin board and be prepared for a round house cutback, just aim high for a soft foamy return.

mozza's picture
mozza's picture
mozza Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:20pm

Anyone got a chilli mid strength? Just seeing how they go before I purchase my first mid length.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:26pm

See my comment above, mozza. It's a gem. weirdest board, but fcuk it goes.

Jollycoral's picture
Jollycoral's picture
Jollycoral Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:26pm

I have one (middie not a chili). I like it. Surfs well in the closers too.

To be specific it's on the smaller end of the 'middie length' @6'10 with ~40L, and it's a bit skinny compared to those fat CI's above...

Maybe it's just another weird board of the other weird boards that I collect in my garage and hide behind the tools so the misses can't get an accurate count.

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:33pm

Recently talked to a well know east coast shaper about getting a custom to replace an ageing 6’0” not exactly HPSB, but a good facsimile.

After some discussion he pointed me to the model I was interested in but conveyed that at my age, approaching 60, a 6’6” option was much more viable. Still able to be surfed in normal beach break but with advantages of paddle. I’m not so egotistical to ignore the advice of a legend so said yep, hit me up.

I’m 5’10” but still weigh in around 78 kgs, maybe a little less now, and coming into greater fitness from lockdown, but not greater surf fitness. That will come. I don’t think this qualifies as a mid-length but it’s as far as I want to go for the moment.

Going full mid-length isn’t on my horizon but this might be a very interesting experiment. Board to be delivered some time in the next few months. He’s a busy man with a dedicated following.

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:40pm

Sometimes I have a crack on my daughters 7.0 shovel nosed middie, heaps of fun

batfink's picture
batfink's picture
batfink Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:41pm

“Watching judges trying to throw scores at logs riding machine-made waves was one of the most surreal, soul-numbing spectacles imaginable.”

Geez, you took one for the team there Steve. This is why I come to swellnet, so I don’t have to watch that shite.

gsco's picture
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gsco Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 6:02pm

Another interesting and topical article and fun read, nice one fr76!

This might not really count but every chance I get I love going up in length sooner than usual to my 6'8" and 7'0" indo style guns whenever the surf allows. It's just so much fun to hook into the waves a bit earlier, speed down the line, plant the back foot and do more drawn out turns on these "mid-length" boards, instead of surfing the shortboard or my dhd black diamond all the time (which I alternate between depending on the waves).

At my local pointbreak there was a recent trend of people starting to ride foiling SUPs but now the trend is definitely moving towards mid-length twinnies. People are surfing well on them with a nice style, so seems all good to me.

To take a stab at an answer to the question posed by the article, what tempts me to try one (but I haven't yet) is they look very functional on the wave and people surf to a high standard on them, and with a style that is often more appealing, flowing, relaxed and functional than a shortboard style.

I think it's a real positive that surfing has evolved towards a culture of being more open minded to people riding whatever they have the most amount of fun on and best suits their style.

Actually I'm curious to see how my dhd black diamond would go if scaled up to a 6'6" or 6'8" but with the width and thickness unchanged.

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 5:58pm

yeah i can feel freerides pain...watched one ride in the girls final ...all arms above head etc and turned it off...see that shit every where.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 6:50pm

Wayne Deane mid 80s thru 90s slicing Kirra on those HB labeled 7'6" swallowtails
7'6 x 21 1/4 x 2 3/4 ?
Mid Length Man Surfing

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:15am

Hey Udo.
Always wondered what Wayne Deane was riding. You have any photos of his boards?

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:35am

Na sorry - One of the Mags back in 90s had an article of Deany and his Shapes and how his mates were struggling on the Wafers of that time and how he got them onto 7'6"s
Gave them a new lease on life
Those measurements i gave above may not be correct but close i think..few waves in this Vid of Wayne Flying at Kirra

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:57am

udo ....loved the way Wayne surfed ,style for days .....rather watch him surf than most of the modern pros....

joeyjojo's picture
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joeyjojo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:57pm

24 min mark; you're welcome!

joeyjojo's picture
joeyjojo's picture
joeyjojo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:14pm

don't forget Alby ross & the Super 8 crew from back in the "little groin" XXXX malfunction days!
got plenty of footage of it on video, but can't find any thing online to post!!!!!!!!!!!

Clive Rodell's picture
Clive Rodell's picture
Clive Rodell Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 2:56pm

You can get your video copied onto digital...

Island Bay's picture
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Island Bay Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:23am

Thanks, Udo
Very nice surfing on that HB Gentleman’s Gun.

Clive Rodell's picture
Clive Rodell's picture
Clive Rodell Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 2:55pm

Lovely guy, amazing surfer, sadly missed. He was always on a 6'6" or 7', when I was surfing Kirra on a 6'3". As the years rolled on, I took a leaf out of his book and started riding 'bigger' short boards 7'-7'4". I'm not a fan of the retro mid length, mainly because I feel the wider noses catch if the rail is buried on a hard turn. There are other ways to get float under the chest/front foot. If you'd seen what Jnr's Dad, Neal Purchase Snr, was riding himself before the mid length came in, you'll realise he was way ahead.

Stephen_mckay's picture
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Stephen_mckay Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 6:50pm

I always avoided mid lengths because I worried they would replace a few of the boards I would usually take out under certain conditions! And it turns out that's what has happened...

I went ahead and got a 6'10 NPJ that is a mid length for me because I'm 5'7. I reckon it is 40-42l and a 2+1 setup and pointy nose. Definitely not a mini mal. I ride it in smaller waves though when I don't feel like walking and nose riding on a log and just want to glide. I ride it in bigger waves cos it gets in so early and gathers so much speed (like someone said about a single fin on roids!) but with the side bites I can get more vertical than when a ride my shorter single fin.

Every time I ride it I get stoked. I dunno what it is. The glide? It's killing me but boards I used to ride are sitting there now gathering dust.

anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 8:49pm

What fins do you use in it? I never liked the sidebites in my 7'0 custom mid - much preferred it as a single but I think that may be because the single had too much area. Always felt 'grabby' with the sidebites.

Stephen_mckay's picture
Stephen_mckay's picture
Stephen_mckay Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 9:17pm

I have got a 6.75 inch and two pretty small sides (2.5 maybe). Joel Fitz fins. It has curved channels running out to the rails through the sides so I figured he meant it to be surfed with the sides. Tried the NPJ 2+1 (with a smaller centre and bigger sides) but found it surfed a bit more like a big thruster, which I wasn't aiming for. Might try it as a single at some point but I've got enough singles that I wanted a different feel. Happy with the ride though! Almost a one board quiver. Don't tell my wife...

anthony.olsen's picture
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anthony.olsen Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 9:42pm

Nice. I have this 7 inch that I tried with the sides:
https://www.surffcs.com.au/products/fcs-ii-single-fin

And these are the sides - 3.5:
https://futuresfins.com.au/products/sb1-sidebite

I ride it with an 8 inch single as per the first link which goes well when there is a bit of size. But it's always felt a bit wrong in small stuff. Tempted to get a 6.5 inch single to run with the side bites or a 7 with much less area to test it out ... but man fins aren't cheap

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 9:56pm

I have a 7'0 middy
I use a 6.5 single glide fins
https://www.glidefins.com/collections/longboard-fins/products/longboard-...
with 3 7/8 sides
https://www.glidefins.com/collections/side-fins/products/side-fin-gbs

These go great. Not saying you should buy these ones as they are expensive but this is my set up.

In small waves, it went well with the front of the base of the centre fin in line with the rear of the base of the side fins ie really clustered up.
But that was a bit unsteady once it hit 3ft so I set it a bit further back as an allrounder because I can't be bothered changing it up all the time.

anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen's picture
anthony.olsen Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 9:59pm

Nice! That 6.5 looks the go ....

goofyfoot's picture
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goofyfoot Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 8:13pm

First off great work Swellnet getting Freeride on the books, been loving these articles lately.

Much better than having to scroll through all the bullshit people write on the forum threads lately (the same few people every single day) if you're trying to keep track of something that interests you.

Haven't ridden a mid-length but I really enjoy surfing my bigger wave boards, 6'6, 6'10,7'6',9'0 in normal everyday surf every couple of weeks or so.
I've found that if I'm constantly surfing the same board my enjoyment for surfing starts to really drop off, I need to be mixing it up to keep the stoke up.
It's probably terrible for your surfing but we're not trying to win world titles here are we.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 8:43pm

Yeah good article FR...but....i liked that comp!! Big fat mushy waves for sure, but some damn good surfing in the mix by a bunch of unknowns. Enjoyed it alot more than the Trestles extravaganza.
As for midlengths, is there anything a midlength can do that a 7ft gun can't? Or is it lessened? After seeing Julian's last turn on that wave above, i'm intrigued by the differences.

juegasiempre's picture
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juegasiempre Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 9:31pm
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 10:11pm

I hate that the major brands are now usurping this concept from the local and boutique shapers.
They've been around the whole time with plenty of interested riders, but having the general population of kooks and the influenced on them does already and will suck big time.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 10:17pm

I preferred every second bloke on a hypto krypto with an imitation craig ando knock knee "steeze", or so they'd like to think.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 11:49am

Yep, I remember the struggle.

82shoes's picture
82shoes's picture
82shoes Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:22pm

"Are mid-lengths a symptom or a cause? A crutch for a culture grown old and decrepit? A rebellion against corporate control? An easier way to have fun in the sun? A sign of Dave Parmenters's predicted kookocracy finally ascending to the centre of the frame, at least by weight of numbers?

I say: All of the above.

How do you see it..?"

I agree, all of the above.
I've had a Tracker shaped by Ben McTavish for probably 7 years now .... hard to surf well at times in some conditions but so much fun. Surfed Lacerations 1-3 ft and went magical, 4ft No Mans amazing .... Just nice to draw different lines and feel glide and release in a different way. Totally disagree with the minimal comparisons though, most try riding minimals like a performance shortboard and it looks all wrong. As the article said, also good coming back from injury, not overdoing things.
Damn, now they're so popular I'll have to get my first thruster in ten years to draw different lines to the pack :)

Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:21am

True statement. I’ve seen good HPSB riders jump on the mid wagon and blow it.

Twins and 2+1 in the mid different again. Twins trendy, 2+1 still pretty uncool unless it’s a NPJr and that’s a totally different trip.

Basically, old dudes ride mids as their muscle twitch fibres grinds to dial up internet speed.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird Thursday, 14 Oct 2021 at 11:46pm

A mid-length / volume board is fun in average / smaller waves.
A gun is great in big or hollow waves.
An athlete can paddle & ride a pro shape shortboard.
Many people are not athletes, and so go down with the lip on the takeoff. Then they pull back on the late drop / sucky ones.....
Years later (for some)..... they buy a mid-length/volume board & have fun.

theolderIgetthebetterIwas's picture
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theolderIgetthe... Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 6:55am

bbbird

nail

head

Ardy's picture
Ardy's picture
Ardy Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:12am

At what volume does it become a mid or is it more length thing? As you can get a 6’ 4” @ 41 l

Jockhobbs's picture
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Jockhobbs Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:14am

Two things your mates like to ride but, don’t tell you about it; fat chicks and mid lengths.

Spatchcock's picture
Spatchcock's picture
Spatchcock Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:30am

At the end of the day it's all ocean time isn't it? Humans love categorising and labelling things, using language to put things in a box. Ride whatever you like and ride what puts a smile on your face. I try to ride everything from a 5'6 shortboard to a 9'1 longboard. How epic is it that we have all of these amazing options these days and none of the stigma from the previous years. No need to be pigeon holed. It's all saltwater therapy

PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb's picture
PeteWebb Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:33am

So for those who decry going to a midlength from their shortboards would you prefer everyone stuck to tradition and went straight to a 9' plus longboard (or a SUP) as their wave catching crutch?

peter doyle's picture
peter doyle's picture
peter doyle Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:37am

Haydn Lewis has been designing and shaping quality mid lengths for over 20 years.
his Paddle Pop models are simply great boards.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:48am

I just think it is great that people are riding different boards and having fun...I've never ridden a mid length, but have a 7'0" foamy which is great when the swell is small and gutless (ie. Westernport)

Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror's picture
Finnbob the terror Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:22am

Pretty sure a 7.0 foamy is classed as a middie.

san Guine's picture
san Guine's picture
san Guine Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:06am

So, I'm in the club then?

indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming's picture
indo-dreaming Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:20am

I hope i can put off riding boards like this as long as possible, i think id rather just go a little thicker little wider and a little longer, ive already gone from 5,8-5,10 boards back up to 6,0-6,2 anything longer and i feel like im riding a gun.

Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:36am

Interesting point on the staying shorter and thicker vs longer and refined rail.

Decent bottom turn off the rail is the starting point for all surfboard selection. That could take you anywhere depending on skill, age, weight, wave etc

brutus's picture
brutus's picture
brutus Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:43am

ha , defining Mid-length's or are they Mini-mals?

For me Mini Mals are Longboards made shorter , which means they turn shorter , and are usually singles or 2 + 1"s...

Mid lengths seem not to be really well defined , and there seems to be a lot of misconception to the validity of what is a mid length?

Midlengths for me became a necessity as health problems knocked me off my short boards , but what an opportunity to try and bring high performance aspects of shortboards...ie high performance turns and being able to ride the tube, on any Hybrid from 6 6 - 9 0......then I think we go into Gliders.....

Here at Bells on a good day , there has been an escalation in board lengths people riding 9 0 guns in 4' waves +......so instead of riding big guns there has been a shift by older guys ( 40+) to more hybrids so they can still catch lots of waves , but turn a lot easier than the guns!

Of real interest is the amount of design work going into the "Mid Lengths " from fins, to fin placements , fine tuning Twins/Keels , Thrusters/quads , 2 _ 1"s and singles....for about 6 years all my time and design energy has gone into " Mid lengths....I have a 10 x 23 x 3 1/4 ( surfing with the daughter board) works great as a Thruster and have had it in double O/H....then I go to my 8 6 x 22 1/4 x 3 ....which works as a Twin/Thruster and quad.......Twin High Tide Rincon , Bowl Thruster and 6' + as a quad.......now have a new 7 11 x 22 x 3 ...deep vee in the front , concave thru the fins.....same again , small surf Twin, medium surf thruster , bigger surf Quad.

Of all the testing I have done , it seems Thrusters still work bets by far....2+ 1's are limited as with singles, which are no where near as forgiving as a Thruster...

So for us down here Hybrid Mid lengths are the future , but how well do you want to surf is only limited by the design work that goes into the board you are surfing!

Michael Griffiths's picture
Michael Griffiths's picture
Michael Griffiths Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:03am

I am 65 ( 66 in January ) and whilst I have a couple of mals I have been surfing mid length before I knew it was thing. I bought my first mid length in 2008 and I now have 5 in my quiver two 7'10"s, 8', 8'1" and 8'3". Each one is different and provides me with great options depending on the wave size and quality. As I get older I keep saying to myself
"Foam is your friend"
Enjoy

tango's picture
tango's picture
tango Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:16am

I started riding longer boards in the early 90s - a bright red 7'7" Terry Clarke single I picked up in mint condition for $25 at a Vinnies store in Sydney. Flat as a pancake with soft tail rails and the most vee I'd ever seen in a board. And what fun. I was about 23 and could paddle into waves where the mals took off and feel no pressure to surf hard. The hardest thing at the time was finding a single fin for a fin box. It was the only board I took up the coast on a trip in ’96 and it attracted a lot of comments – some positive and some negative, until they realised I wasn’t even wanting to go vert and saw how it went down the line.

I’m more interested in turning your questions around, FR, and questioning the reference point for the article and many of the responses, but there’s another whole article (or a paper) to address it.

It seems that the starting point for this article is a position of shortboard dominance. Your use of symptom/cause infers there’s a malaise at play here, as does the crutch reference. “Grown old and decrepit”.......I completely disagree.

I’m amused by the very label of mid-length and the need people seem to feel to categorise boards with such a wide range of lengths and other characteristics. I think that’s a reflection of the relatively one-dimensional way of thinking about modern shortboards where the differences are often measured in poofteenths. And most, if not all, of the need to categorise comes from the people who don’t really ride anything outside the standard shorty/step up or high-performance longboard (was there ever a better contradiction in terms?). In my experience, the people who ride them call them by their length, fins and tail.

I think equally valid questions could be: Is the resistance to different craft a symptom or a cause? A desperate attempt to cling to a culture of youth? A rebellion against age and the performance-surfing group-think? An embrace of the different ways to ride waves?

I think a lot of the detractors feel some kind of threat from longer boards as the equations change. The longer boards shift the takeoff dynamic, they get in earlier, they paddle back up the line faster. I’ve also noticed that a lot of decent surfers often have a lot more fun on them, not only because of the paddling but because of the drive and hold of a longer rail and the different lines. Most of the detractors seem to be in denial about their own ability and their age, and direct that frustration towards people who’ve grown up and embraced the right board for the conditions.

People should be more concerned with the Kookocracy of logs and longboards. A bunch of kooks on 7’0s is just an inconvenience, but a carload of kooks on a 9’6s is something to really worry about.

velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 12:01pm

Top comment Tango. I see it as a counter-revolution - another push back against the potato chip of the 90's, that now becomes a niche. (We all complain WSL is not representative of us in the broadcast threads). This counter-revolution is intuitive: it is one of accessibility. Boards that make things easier, not harder. This surely appeals to more people, et voila, many people are paddling in easier, going faster. It's a total no-brainer.

Not everyone in the last 30 years began on shortboards. In fact, I'd bet most newcomers today are going long, then midlength. Going onto a midlength does not correlate with aging; rather, for many young people, it is actually going DOWN in size, from a traditional 9'6", to something more maneouverable! Imagine that.

I was surfing traditional logs at 19 (back in the 90's clubs would have an 8 footer division) and thus a midlength was something to add to the quiver. Fast forward 20 years, and there are so many amazing younger surfers taking this path.

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blindboy Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:21am

Foam might be your friend, but it is not necessarily everyone's. Put a fit 30 year old with a bad attitude on some of these boards and it quickly becomes a pain. It is not usually a problem around here but the NB had a stack.of those characters a few years ago along with Joe Hero on his 9'6" mal. Great to see people having fun and using a wide variety of boards ......respectfully.

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Oldbob Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:40am

Young blokes on mids and mals get me slightly annoyed. Seems to me they are bludging. Take advantage of your youth and rip. There is plenty of time for cruisy turns when you are old like me.

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verbatim Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:56am

Vouch has been making mids for donkeys; I’ve had one for 10 years (7’2 single fin, custom, bit narrower & tucked in for steep waves with stiff offshores & I use it periodically when I’m out of tune or a bit fatter, but, TBH, when I’m on a wave I often wish I was on a board that could snap tighter or pivot better the pocket. So they’re fun & different, but also a bit one dimensional. I also ride & enjoy shorter twins, foamies, mal’s & other assorted craft, but usually go back to contemporary thrusters, they’re just better. I think most people trying this new fad & that can surf decent will eventually figure this out too.

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Optimist Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:57am

Go big too early and you'll lose all your fitness. The same applies if you ride em too often. Lets not forget how shitty they are on your backhand and rubbish to duckdive. Get out there and work a bit..its good for you...and twin fins...no...

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BSM86 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 6:35pm

I paddle twice as far and get far more waves. I would say my fitness has increased

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shae.robertson Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:59am

In the early 90's a number of shapers introduced a design that was referred to as a Fish....Was that a relevant design related to this topic? - There was also a design called a snub.

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garyg1412 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:08am

Picked this board up about 10 years ago for $50 and is my go to board for a big powerful reef break I frequent. Mid Length or Mini Mal??? Has a pin tail, rounded nose and nose rocker that would make a ski jump envious. Have no idea who shaped it but it's pre fin boxes and just flies at this particular break.

Capture

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Oldbob Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:10am

Re-watched that cold water surfing of Torren and Laurie the other day. Nordurland. Crazy kids. Can't not like Torren but Laurie looked better to be honest

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Leebo20 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:57am

Conditions for surfing in Australia are average at best most of the time.
Compared to somewhere like Indo.
Considering most people are going to be surfing pretty average waves most of the time, throw in working 5 days a week and doesn't leave you much of a chance to surf good waves in good conditions.
Also throw in the crowds and trying to surf a "performance" standard shortboard in shit waves just doesn't really cut it for most people.
The surf videos don't help this showing only but the best days, best places and people that are super fit gives a real false sense of what surfing is going to be like in the real world.
The mid length makes sense. Will cover you for 80% of the surf you will surf as opposed to a short board that is only suited for the very best days and peak fitness.
The midlengths will help you progress quicker and handle surf getting bigger as you improve. A one board quiver that will cover most people's needs.
They also look better(subjective) than flick/flick shit now days with most shortboarder's looking all pretty much the same.
Shortboarding really has dominated in the commerical shit show for so long. Nice to see it change and hopefully attitudes of everyone thinking there Slater or some superhero dissapear and the agro that goes with it

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velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 12:11pm

100%.

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Jockhobbs Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 12:22pm

No turning back if you spend a fair amount of time on a mid. Your foot positioning and stance is so different. Sure swap between shorty and mid but, for a time your feet are too close together and you’re too upright to keep manoeuvring like the board deserves. Jump on a mid and you look like Adriano that is, like a powerful gorilla trying to push open a bank vault. Probably chose one for 70%-90% of your surfs as unless you’re a freak it will confuse your brain.

Mid length guy surf something different. Maybe a longboard

HPSB guy, maybe a fish.

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radiationrules Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 12:14pm

my contribution > great writing Steve, great commissioning Stu & Ben > the success can be measured by the community engagement. In terms of the MId's Marketplace I think CV19 has (re) introduced surfing to a lot of peeps. Good luck to them, if there respectful in the line-ups. I hope the societal impacts of CV19 settles down soon; and (low on the list) that the crowded line-ups the world over abate, as peeps go back to work.

I've always ridden shortboards that are longer than the "current trend" reflected my size and lack of interest in attacking waves. There's something timeless and satisfying (for me) about trimming, being on the edge of a rail, in the pocket.

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Leebo20 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 2:56pm

Riding a Mid can't do anymore harm than what the short boarding commercialisation has done and all those companies propping it up.

Prime surf breaks dominated my entitled little shits that now think it's cool to tow surf when it's paddle size surf just to get artificial exposure on how "good" the surf was.

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rrr Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 4:41pm

mid length { if ya wanna call em that } are way more visually appealing than a mini mal .
and are deff a legit design . whether its a single, twin, or thruster version.
and the whole torren martin thing has transformed my bussiness .
simon jones has tapped into that space , where twin fin design stopped dead . and explored where it could go . now most shapers on the planet are also . all power to him. iv probly made 20 thrusters in the last 3 years. only seem to get channel twin orders mostly these days. evolve or perish ! as AB used t say.
also interesting t see the mainstream labels getting in to claim some lost market share. after bagging and disparaging hipsters and the like for years.

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udo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 4:48pm
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udo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 5:24pm

Planing Hull Middy Twinzer

Spuddups's picture
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Spuddups Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 5:46pm

I've tried a couple of mid lengths over the last five years. Not a fan. They seem to do everything a 5'7" fish can do in small waves but quite a bit worse. Paddle power? Sure it's partly about foam, but mostly planing area, which is why a decent fish can go so well in small waves. Once it's below one foot I'll go the longboard. In good waves I'll want to be on my short board every time. Just personal preference really. If people are into mid lengths then that's great, good for them.

The main thing I mess round with these days to keep things interesting is fins. Twins, Thrusters and Quads. They all have something to bring to the table. I reckon what makes Torren's boards interesting is that they are twins rather than mid length. I wonder if he'd prefer to be on a short twin rather than a mid length thruster?

Anyway, like someone else said here, it's a good thing to try different boards. You might hate them, you might love them, but you won't find out unless you try.

BSM86's picture
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BSM86 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 6:33pm

I don't understand the hate people on here have towards mid- lengths or mini mals. Should we all be surfing the same high proformance boards, tryimg all the same tricks?

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northeasterly Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:07pm

I don't understand it either. I switched to a mid length a few years ago and wished I did it 30 years ago. No one I surfed with could understand why I switched. Even after I started getting double the waves and frothing like a grom they couldn't tear themselves away from their shortboards. I watch them dropping with the lip and getting caught behind, see them getting stuck in fat sections and laugh at their look of frustration as I'm flying past for the tenth time.

I've come to realise surfers are actually really conservative and don't like change. Not something I'd ever thought before.

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Spuddups Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 11:41am

I don't see a lot of hate for mid lengths here. That's quite a strong word. Some people just don't dig them that's all. I also didn't see anyone saying that other people shouldn't be riding them either. It's just a matter of personal preference. If you like mid lengths then good for you. Ride what you like. It doesn't affect me, so long as you're not behaving like a fuckwit in the water.

udo's picture
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udo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 7:08pm

This bloke might know a bit about making a Middy.. is this a Middy...?
Blindboy....this ones yours

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I focus Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 11:47pm

Udo looks a bit gunner for a mid?

Nose and tail a little narrow perhaps?

Still maybe wide enough.

I am building a 7'6" board at the moment (paulownia over EPS) very similar shape same length slightly narrower and a touch more rocker (I think) purpose isn't for a mid length but for an outer local fickle reef.

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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 9:41am

Def wide enough -- if it had an inch docked off the Nose and inch off the Tail and round them off
you have a sweet looking Middy--not much diff in outline to a Chilli Midstrength
#slimmiddy
#performancemiddy

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tango Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 2:14pm

That planshape just sings.

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rorpeedo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:00pm

MLM - Mid Lenghts Matter.

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scott.kempton Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:02pm

Been on them for years now every man and his dog got one . If you mainly surf the points it's just a better paddle in the sweep for an old boy and still easy to lay over a roundhouse or get barrelled

Leebo20's picture
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Leebo20 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 8:43pm

Epoxy/EPS to get the extra float advantage

udo's picture
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udo Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 9:24pm

Not needed..PU is ample in Middy Dims.

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Leebo20 Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:02pm

Lighter though and tougher

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Vic Local Friday, 15 Oct 2021 at 10:17pm

Young people on mid-lengths are just fucking pests in the water. I don't have a problem with the old boys and girls with bung shoulders riding longer boards because they generally know it gives them an advantage, which they don't abuse.
Younger surfers are using the extra foam, rather than extra skill to get as many waves as possible at other people's expense. If 20-30 year olds are riding mid-lengths, they've basically given up on improving their surfing.
Let's be honest, the only advantage to a mid-length over a normal shortboard is in the paddling. Once someone is up and riding, mid-lengths have no benefit.
We had plenty of 4ft days where the young pests would be up and kooking, before good shortboard surfers were even paddling. If you want to surf a mid-length on the Surfcoast reefs, bugger off to Torquay point,

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Roadkill Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 9:34am

MId lenghts make the prettiest boards…they just look better.

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ShiftingPeaks Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 9:38am

Mark Phipps has been making some amazing mid-length boards over the past 10 years. I think he is an under recognized influence within the recent mid-length expansion. His model the One Bad Egg is an incredible board, no matter what your level of skill. Selling in vast numbers in Oz and Europe out of Euroglass. The CI mid is suspiciously similar in outline and was released many moons later. Mark himself absolutely rips and manages to surf his in a critical fashion in a vast array of conditions.

Not surprising given the lineage. Watching old GASH footage, Phippsy, Browny and Tony Ray are all ripping in Torquay on wider, longer short boards between 6'8-7'6. Browny has been riding mid-lengths locally for decades and shaming younger high performance rippers in the area. All trained under Wayne Lynch who is obviously no stranger to longer wider designs. The obsession with being shorter and lower in volume is misguided.

In a Victorian context, a straighter rail line and width provide trim on an open wave face, then the performance tail block and some solid fins given and pivot. They're unreal boards that can be ripped.

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ShiftingPeaks Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 9:45am

The roundhouse at 11 secs for a middle aged bloke suggests you can still surf pretty well on a performance mid-length. Most guys i see riding short boards are hopping and falling more than turning.

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ShiftingPeaks Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 9:52am

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 10:48am

Enjoyed that...
with the played back speed at 1:25..

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 10:01am
Beaver's picture
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Beaver Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 10:24am

Thanks NPJ, beautiful boards meant to be put on rail as he surfs them many a younger slash flash ripper could benefit from feeling the trim flow and rail biting deep during a high speed turn not breaking into a slide. Just my opinion.
Thanks Cedar Purchase for selling me your joyful 7’4 that your grandad made from old template. Beautiful to ride.

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velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 12:17pm

Hey Freeride, how about mentioning Midget in the history bit of the article, with his mid-1967 Australian Vee Bottom - this was the first of them. Later in the year Bob and Nat took the concept and we had the Fantastic Plastic Machine, (then the double ender while Brewer did mini-guns in Hawaii, then the Aussies went too short and Rolf Aurness cleaned up on a 7 footer at Bells...)

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damo-b Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 12:48pm

Board builders and surf retailers cashing in on the mid-length phenomenon are no different to the big breweries that went with the idea of mid-strength beer.

Another angle is that clever marketers have blended a spiritual concept ( the middle way) into selling product/s. Car manufacturers did it too with the duel cab ute 4x4. It's not a car and not a ute, it's in the middle. Everything is a hybrid or a satirical hyperreal version of itself.

Things seem to swing from extremes then settle, for a period at least, to create space somewhere where a blend of concepts can exist, somewhere in the middle. If you think about the protracted longboard-shortboard dichotomy, then mid-lengths can be viewed as a valid response to that status-quo.

Goat boaters and esky lidders, tea-bags and sweepers are always going to be too far away from surfing for the purist, creating their own marketing genres. Finless devotees still positioned on the outer most limits of acceptance (largely because the average surfer doesn't possess enough finesse, can't manhandle or understand finless design concepts) but mid-lengths are okay and accepted...

I could argue that the contemporary mid-length is a result of a 'balance in the surfing force' and the market has adopted them wholeheartedly. Or, is the mid-length an incarnation, a manifestation, and acceptance of, mediocrity in surfing, designed to accommodate part of the market embarrassed by the distant surfing past, shuns the high-tech acrobatic athletic ultra-lightweight surfing future, and are more than happy to stay in the middle and/or slow shit down a bit.

Hannah Magnall at Ballina has been shaping and surfing the design since way before they got popular. Her inspiration deriving from Buttons' style of surfing. I think that's a cool motive for building and riding them.

In closing, there's heaps of good surfers from the North NSW region that ride mid-lengths very well, and any craft in the line-up that doesn't sport a pointy nose is a positive.

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miall7 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 12:50pm

When I started surfing in the early 70s boards over 7’ were common. 7’2”, 7’4”7’6” were standard lengths. All single fins of course. According to my memory shapers in California were shaping 8’ boards for female surfers back in the 60s.

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markxxx Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 1:32pm

Mick Mackie is another. He packs some serious foam into his boards. Just got my hands on one of his Smooth Glides. Beautiful board.

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Clive Rodell Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 2:38pm

http://4.bp.blogspot.com/-BTvSSHT-6Ps/UnezrI_0PtI/AAAAAAAAPhc/AiJnTksCyD...
This is a TIKI surfboard from the UK circa 1966 and a Hendy Harbor surfboard, also from the UK
http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-UGMP0i9wag0/T5JfSyLHhSI/AAAAAAAAIlw/jYDpvLHPc5...
Paste those into your browser, I certainly see (and used to ride) the resemblance. I don't see Mid-Lengths being new at all. Just another Retro re-visit.
What HAS changed is the pecking order... guys who rip being sidelined because they cannot catch the waves like someone on a Mid-Length

Clive Rodell's picture
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Clive Rodell Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 3:08pm

https://shredsledz.net/2020/06/body-glove-ad-from-1970/

Here's another from 1970. Nah, not new at all.

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Weatherman Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 3:47pm

Yep, great article. Not a lot more I can add that hasn't already been said. I am a fan of mid lengths and have been for many years. So many positives. I'm in the mid being different to a mini mal camp for sure. Definitely a good type of board for the Surf Coast reefs/points and beaches (which lack the punch of MP or down south). That footage of Browny pretty much sums it up, thanks Shifting Peaks.

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 4:46pm

Next swell at Snapper Kirra going to be very interesting with 20 or more JS Big Barons in the lineup

Luke Egan -- 7'6 @ 50litres

Leebo20's picture
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Leebo20 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 5:06pm

Nice,
Man sized turns on a man sized board

Kirra on Barons, now that's worth tuning into too rather than the cooly kids

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 5:10pm

Here's Kirra on a BB

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Leebo20 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 5:57pm

The 7'0 looks like the go.

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goofyfoot Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 6:49pm

Very nice udo

udo's picture
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udo Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 7:42pm
velocityjohnno's picture
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velocityjohnno Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 4:46pm

There's Luke with that massive spray going on again like in BunyipDreaming

Leebo20's picture
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Leebo20 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 6:06pm

Noticed on McTavish website no longer doing the Carver?

Leebo20's picture
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Leebo20 Saturday, 16 Oct 2021 at 8:50pm

One postive for the performance board riders is they should be able to pick them up cheap new and secondhand with the trend on Mids.