'More Than They Are'
Yesterday I began writing an article on today’s Black Friday sales and the state of the board industry. How the chickens from three glorious years of COVID sales have come home to roost: sales have slumped, the second-hand market is flooded, and it’s suddenly switched from a seller’s market to a buyer’s.
Even have my own little anecdote. An orange-tinted Wizstix fish - a Jughead model - bought for $100 off Gumtree, which included delivery if you can believe it. 5’8”, great shape, no marks on it, full deck traction, which may cop criticism from some quarters but has made me a convert - good grip is a bonus but stacking boards without delivering a backside wax job is its best quality.
With the draft version written, today I was going to tidy up the words and make the argument for hunting bargains. This morning, however, I read a comment on social media and I reflected on the same topic in a different way.
So yesterday’s mantra to ‘go buy boards’ is replaced by today’s ‘don’t sell boards’, and I’m not sure how that fits into the Black Friday mix.
While it’s true I’ve sold second-hand surfboards before, most of my sticks meet one of two fates: ridden into the ground or superseded, in which case they get stored in the shed or under the deck. Granted I’m a bit of a hoarder and I’ve also got the space to indulge it, but holding on to old equipment has, over time, proven to be a rewarding choice.
For one, those old boards present a timeline of my surfing. Tangible reminders of time’s past, recalled with fondness when I fondle them: special surf trips, developmental leaps, fruitful experiments, all captured in foam and fibreglass.
“It's amazing the memories that some boards hold,” wrote shaper Corey Graham in the aforementioned social media post, “they become more than what they are, some become a time capsule, others hold total sentimentality.”
And I’m nothing if not a sentimental sucker. I guess it goes with the hoarding. Decluttering is a dirty word.
For a few years I built a large collection of vintage boards, and it’s true I enjoyed tracking the design continuum from longboards to short and the various offshoots along the way. Theory is one thing but holding those outmoded curves in your hand is another.
Yet despite the boards being time capsules, none of them held my memories and I felt nothing personal when I picked them up. I’ve since retained the best and sold the rest. They were surprisingly easy to part with.
The other reason to hold onto boards is for the surprise rediscovery.
You ride a board for six months, maybe more, and it’s good but not great - no tabula magica it the be. So the board gets superseded, which around here means it gets placed back in the rack, somewhere near the quiet corner where the dust settles and the spiders crawl.
And there it sits for a year or a decade, until a time when your surfing is flat, you’re grasping for something and it offers a flicker of recognition. A particular type of turn that felt good, or a place on the wave it liked to travel, and suddenly it’s a missing piece of jigsaw puzzle you forgot you had.
The most recent one for me was a modified version of a ‘Stuey Diver’, a model made by Stuart Paterson that mixed Pato’s own take on a mini-Simmons with elements taken from Channel Island’s Dumpster Diver such as the squared off tail. Mine, however, had an asymmetric squared off tail which may have made it hard to sell, but at any rate I’m glad I didn’t.
The board is six years old and measures 5’10 x 19 x 2 ½. Wide but thin, planes well, very responsive, and though I can’t recall why it was shelved it's running fine in the afterlife. A classic groveller rediscovered.
I’ve ridden that board every day this week. Even swapped it out for another groveller - the 5’8” orange-tint Wizstix. Didn’t sell that one of course - you won’t find it as a Black Friday special on Marketplace - but instead I placed it back in the rack, tucked away for another day.