YouTubing for the big guys

Anthony Pancia
Talking Heads

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

Comments

ringmaster's picture
ringmaster's picture
ringmaster commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:34pm

Old mate Jim Pellegrino HAS to be the poster boy for this crew!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yrf93aLQXBE

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 5:06pm

How’s that burn

billythekid's picture
billythekid's picture
billythekid commented Wednesday, 20 Nov 2019 at 7:20am

But the youtube comment is right - if your "big" and surfing and you wanna surf better you need to lose weight. Doesn't mean you can't surf. If you look at the guys over 40 in the lineup who get waves, its not usually the "big" ones. Lighter body means each paddle stroke moves you faster as you have less drag for same force - simple physics

boxright's picture
boxright's picture
boxright commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:35pm

"I just want it to be a big community....."

Blowin's picture
Blowin's picture
Blowin commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 3:42pm

60,000 surfers over 95kgs in the UK alone....conservatively ?

Size or weight is no real indicator of surfing ability , I’ve found. A few of my friends are “generously proportioned “ and they surf alright.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 4:06pm

I'm 95 kg of pure dripping love.

Sounds like this could be for me.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

mr mick's picture
mr mick's picture
mr mick commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 9:36pm

Probably more likely 95kg of pure dripping!!

Mr mick

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 9:47pm

You got me Mick.

Dripping (hangs head in shame)

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley's picture
GuySmiley commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 4:35pm

I'm in his target group. I've found volume is important but more so volume under my chest (fuller nosed boards) and nose rocker in particular. I love round tail boards but some of my favourite boards have fish tails. MR's Flying Fish with quads just suited me like a glove, have tried Simon's boards but they just seem to have too much rocker for me. I agree with what he says about fins, seriously thinking about going 2+1 for my next board.

I'm just wondering how Scott would go on those 40 litre-ish boards with a 5-4-3 mill wetsuit, hood, gloves and booties on in the middle of a UK winter, thinking he is either a paddling beast or still under foamed.

Good luck mate, a worthwhile project.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 7:01pm

Agree with your points GS although smaller, about 74kg. Lower nose rocker, wider nose, foam under chest works no matter your size. Prefer 2+1 as my setup. Edit: can use 6" fin in tail and GL or GX on sides - all easily available - and then work out what feels best, maybe you'd like slightly smaller rear fin and bigger sides. I tend to upsize the rear fin on bigger days. The 2+1 can be bliss, can go fully vert backhand and holds while still able to 'skate'. My fave has double flyer swallowtail.

On 40L boards for Scott in that much rubber, I'd reckon it would be hard work still. What he said about bigger learners needing 80L is so true, so many people handicap themselves without really knowing it.

spelled3's picture
spelled3's picture
spelled3 commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 6:05pm

The fb group is pretty interesting. I'm 48, 92 kgs and I reckon I'm surfing better now than when I was younger because I'm on boards that float and paddle rather than the wafers of the 90s/2000s. I wish I'd understood boards better back then and sized up earlier.

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 6:09pm

Me too regarding boards.

I was probs doing my best surfing in my 30's but I still have my moments I guess.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

jayet-010's picture
jayet-010's picture
jayet-010 commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 6:56pm

What boards are you surfing?

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 7:11pm

6'0" x 21" x 3" and 6'5" x 21" x 3" shaped by a mysterious wizard.

Swallowtail twinny fish in summer when I'm in boardies and feelin' loose. (5'8" x same as above)

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

haggis's picture
haggis's picture
haggis commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 5:19pm

Kelly Slater’s Glass Slipper had a lot to do with that

jayet-010's picture
jayet-010's picture
jayet-010 commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 6:50pm

I'm 43 and 95kg. I normally surf a 6,3 ghost (35L) in Perth beachbreaks and 6,5 ghost (39L) for down south. I love my 6,3 but struggle with the 6,5.

It's funny how a board doesn't necessarily scale up. I think it's the width (3in) that throws me out.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 8:40pm

95 kgs and 35L of foam for Perth beachies....phew well done.

kaki bibaita

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 7:21pm

you mean thickness?

jayet-010's picture
jayet-010's picture
jayet-010 commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 8:16pm

Sorry, I meant >20in width. It's a wide bastard.

It is 3in thick but don't have an issue with it.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 7:36pm

Zen, off topic here sorry, but have you surfed any of those river mouths over there that are slowly leaking out to the world? They look bloody increeeeedible

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Friday, 15 Nov 2019 at 9:54pm

No Goof but I know the ones you mean. There's one over in Western Japan probs the one you're thinking about. One down Shonan area, super localised, Maurice Cole has been accepted there, other foreigners not so and one down in Kyushu where Dane, Kolohe and maybe even John John aren't particularly welcome anymore so's I've been told.

We have some great surf up my way very little of which has made Youtube or print happily. Frigid though most of the year and our beaches aint exactly pretty. Mr. Brokensha has seen a few spots, unfortunately not at their best.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

dingalini's picture
dingalini's picture
dingalini commented Saturday, 16 Nov 2019 at 9:23am

take control of your weight....ride the boards you've always had fun on and stay young :-)

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam commented Saturday, 16 Nov 2019 at 4:00pm

Saying that fins arent big enough?
There is some big fin models out there and theres a lot of fin boxes in the stock boards hes buying. Guess he snaps the boxes out , as they can be flimsy.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Saturday, 16 Nov 2019 at 7:53pm

you can add old surfers to your list. eg. when i started surfing at Bondi beach, the leg rope had not been invented yet........

EasyRider's picture
EasyRider's picture
EasyRider commented Saturday, 16 Nov 2019 at 8:38pm

Shawn Briley was a Big Boy but fearless in heavy Pipeline barrels.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7KpI5VXuDUk
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x_Jd2BezU2I
Size is not a predictor of ability.

truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher's picture
truebluebasher commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 4:47pm

EasyRider speaks the truth!
tbb weighs in at a whopping 125kg .
Surfs same beach as lightweight Grom tbb trophy haul era.
Only tbb receives more surfing compliments now than ever.

No more sponsored boards...Just tbb & the sea-free as can be!
Hardly the weight stopping tbb from surfing his brains out!
Being paralysed for 4 months is the Elephant in the room.
Good luck with the Mid strength brew!

Boatloads pay to see the biggest ocean beasts fly thru the sky.
Supermodel whales ain't got the guts to measure up!

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 1:03am

Junior Moepono. Hawaiian legend. Passed away a few years ago but i remember seeing him as a grom on heaps of Hawaiian vids and being blown away by his grace and style.

No mal half a quiver's picture
No mal half a quiver's picture
No mal half a quiver commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 6:47am

I think that’s what he’s getting at obviously surfing those sought of waves most likely a gun or semi gun which is carrying more volume and length. We all can’t fit into the kelly slater cut out.
Fishes and fun boards aside the average person is surfing every day waves with a board a few inches within there height.
For the bigger person that’s only a couple of feet from being on the nose.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 4:54pm

i would have like to seen the big fellow paddle into the waves, he must be super strong. he is as good as i seen.

gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti's picture
gingeryeti commented Sunday, 17 Nov 2019 at 5:14pm

193cms and 111kgs. Somehow transitioned tall skinny grom to Rugby second row size over the years. XXXL rashies are hard to come by and only one brand makes size 15 flippers. Still ride a 43” boog. Boards get destroyed easier these days but no one much tries to drop in on you.

Average's picture
Average's picture
Average commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 6:48pm

I'm 105kgs and I struggle with board durability. The bottoms are mostly immaculate, but the decks look like they've been in a QLD hailstorm after only a couple of weeks. Really takes the shine off a new board when its got dints all over it.

Pretty much gave up stock boards and have been getting customs with extra glass (2x4oz) and while they're better, they still don't stay new for long. On the plus side, haven't broken one in years.

shoogsyboy's picture
shoogsyboy's picture
shoogsyboy commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 7:02pm

over in the west we have 6 oz glass

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 9:16pm

yep i always have used 2x6 on deck and 1x6 on bottom, no problems

zenagain's picture
zenagain's picture
zenagain commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 11:04pm

Yep, me too- the devil, 666.

Watashi wa metabo oyagi desu.

webby_84's picture
webby_84's picture
webby_84 commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 9:27pm

Great initiative, Scott.

I’m 35, whisker under 6’4 and clock in at 113kg, but by no means fat. Finding the right gear is a battle. Fellas at Rip Curl in Torquay today we’re very helpful in sizing me up for a new wetty, which contradicted the advertised size scales.
Anything under 45L board wise just doesn’t cut it. Anything under about 9’6 for a mal, don’t bother.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Monday, 18 Nov 2019 at 10:40pm

try this. first work out what litres you need then get a step up to 7foot or 7foot 6. i have just gone down this path,. as long as you get a PU board, you can repair any dings good luck

dewhurst's picture
dewhurst's picture
dewhurst commented Tuesday, 19 Nov 2019 at 12:32pm

Older bro has worked as a cutter operator at Byron and he doesnt think many models scale up well at all. Most models are balanced around a set of dimensions, usually to suit a team rider, and when scaling up there's a point where going wider effects performance, so they make it thicker or flatten the deck and that changes the foil and balance of the board.

Get a dedicated big guys board is his advice, like the Occy model.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola commented Thursday, 21 Nov 2019 at 3:21pm

after years of looking for a step up board i found two at my local surf shop. McCoy, 7 foot 2 inch round tail, 50 litres, for some reason it was heavy you can find it on McCoy web site the one i bought is a
skipper agency surfboards,7foot 2 inches 22. 3\4 3.3\8. 60 litres
single into double concave, i surfed it today as a twin fin in 2 foot. it went better than i thought caught lots of waves. so far so good.

Dangitt's picture
Dangitt's picture
Dangitt commented Friday, 22 Nov 2019 at 12:22pm

Benny’s Boardroom has been covering the big boy market for quite a while, well

Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs's picture
Jockhobbs commented Friday, 22 Nov 2019 at 2:32pm

Interesting. I’m 105 kegs and over 50 years of age.

I wasted so much time and a bit of coin on short wide hydrid boards. Fell into the trap of thinking I needed to have a super low rocker and wide board. A very Sydney thing to do.

I noticed that longer HPSB weren’t fashionable, unless you left Sydney where bigger and or older guys were riding them.

Anyways I stumbled in an old article by Rusty P on board size. It pretty much talked about longer boards with medium rockers, pretty much big guy HPSB. So anyway I went a grabbed one a 6’8 Fred Rubble. Without a doubt the best thing I’ve done in years. It turns, is fast down the line, stable and easy to catch waves. Most importantly it catches good waves with curve and a bit of juice. Something the flat rocker boards struggle with.