YouTubing for the big guys
Who remembers those Lowes ads of the late-nineties?
Perhaps it was purely a NSW thing, but they featured NRL personalities Blocker Roach, Fatty Vautin, and a revolving cast of other ‘big guys’ spruiking cut-price clothing for fellas who placed fit well ahead of form when it came to dressing up for a Saturday night on the town with the little lady.
It’s been a long time between drinks for the ‘big guy’, particularly for surfing, but UK surfer Scott Davies is hoping to change that. He’s launched a YouTube channel specifically for the larger surfer and it was without any hesitation that I got in contact for a chat.
A stinking hot Sunday afternoon (WA time) finds Scott peering out of his window at a cold, gloomy morning along the North Devon coast, one which he says offers little hope of a morning surf.
“Nah mate, it ain’t looking good,” he offers before we get down to it.
Swellnet: I’m already thinking ahead to what comments a piece like this might drum up. Do you come across a lot of negativity?
Nah, not as much as I was expecting. Before I started I figured I’d have lots of people slagging me with all sorts of horrible comments and trolling but I guess there’s only been one, and that was some guy saying, "You need to lose weight, get down to the gym,” and all that, but that’s going to come with the territory really. I’ve honestly been surprised how little negativity there’s been.
OK, so it’s self-explanatory, but, what made you want to launch your channel?
Well, I’m 105 kilograms and speaking from experience, there are a few unique challenges that bigger people face when it comes to surfing. I did a bit of a research into how many of us are out there, as in surfers in that 95kg plus range, and in the UK alone it’s conservatively about 60,000 but there are hardly any products out there that cater for us.
I’m sharing my 20 years-worth of surfing knowledge on YouTube, but I’ve also started a Facebook group where everyone can share theirs, as I certainly don’t have all the answers. I just want it to be a big community where we can share knowledge and information.
What are some of the deficiencies you’ve identified when it comes to catering for larger surfers regarding things like boards and equipment?
Fins for example, they go up in 20kg increments but pretty much stop at 105kgs, so if you’re heavier than that, you’re going to be surfing a fin that is too small for you. There are loads of things like that yet there’s quite a big market there and I want to try and make a difference if I can. I felt quite alienated for some time and I just want to make a difference. Being a bigger guy, you’re stuck in the middle ground somewhat.
Let’s talk boards then, Matt Biolos seems to have struck a bit of a chord when it comes to catering for bigger guys with his models. Um, I don’t know what he weighs, but I’m wondering if he realised, ‘Well, if I need a bit of volume in my boards, but I want to perform and I’m sure there are plenty of others who do too’ so he went in that direction?
I’d agree with that. A bigger guy is going to be naturally better at shaping for people the same size. Having said that, and this is the beauty of the Facebook forum, there are plenty of examples out there of surfers talking to their local shapers and getting the balance right.
How would you describe your surfing ability?
As mentioned, I’ve been surfing for about 20 years, so I’d say my ability is what you’d expect from someone who’s been at it for that amount of time. I’m not busting airs or anything, I’d say I’m competent but good enough to ride smaller boards.
What are you riding?
My performance shortboard for good waves is a stock Pyzel Ghost. It’s 6’6” and about 40 litres. I’ve also got a Lost Uber Driver XL that’s up around the 43 litres and I have a step-up for the very rare thumping days we have here is a 6’10” Lost Roundup and that’s also about 43 litres.
How long before you stumbled upon the winning formula for you? There is that tendency for bigger people to simply get bigger boards like mini-mals, but that comes at the cost of performance.
I think a lot of bigger people struggle at that beginning stage. If you’re directed to start on a mini-mal, that’s still probably only 50 litres but you’ll want to be up around the 80l mark so there is that deficiency from the start. I’ve had that sort of experience, I started on boards that were too small for me and that followed on as I progressed and it was frustrating. Then I’d end up on boards that were just too long, which doesn’t really work for the type of waves we have over here.
Do you think a lot of bigger surfers simply, I guess, refuse to be honest with themselves when it comes to their requirements and either go too big or small?
I think intermediate surfers can also fall into the trap of riding boards that are too small for them. Speaking from my own experience, I've ended up on small boards in the past. I didn't want to be on a 7'0 shortboard, so I ended up on something way too small for me. It took me a while to come around to the fact that I just can't ride the same boards that most people are on.
I think it's true for any surfer-you just must be honest about your ability — and sometimes weight — when looking at volume. I’ve been through all of this and I just don’t want others to face the same difficulties.
What about other gear like wetsuits and boardshorts, although I suspect boardshorts are not much of any issue for you over there in the UK?
Same as boards really, the industry is very slowly starting to come around but like boards, it’s been a bit of a challenge until now. Companies are starting to become a bit more accommodating with sizing.
What are your hopes for your YouTube channel?
The whole reason I started the channel was out of pure frustration. What few products that are out there for big guys there was little information on them, in the way of reviews and such. I figured this could just be a central hub for anyone looking for that sort of information, so they don’t face the same struggles I did in the past. I’m certainly not in it for the money, I just want to make sure surfing more accessible for bigger people.
// ANTHONY PANCIA