Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years, you would have seen first hand the invasion of the softboard in every surf spot the world over. What is going on here? Has the surfing world gone mad…. and why does every surfer “need one in their quiver”?
Well, the game has changed my friends. Long gone are the days that soft boards were only big clunky beginner boards looked down upon by the surf community. There are now a huge number of brands that exclusively build soft boards for all levels and all types of surfing. They are so popular now, that chances are if you were standing on any surf beach the world over you’ll have a soft top within eyesight. It seems that you can’t escape… so may as well join em? ;).
Let’s take a look at some of the reasons behind the soft surfboard movement.
Surfing Should be Fun.
People riding foamies just seem to have more FUN. They smile. They laugh. They don’t take it too seriously. When you take the serious out of surfing and put the focus on the fun factor it changes things up completely. One of my biggest gripes with surfing over the years always was just how angry a lot of people seem to be out in the lineup. And I mean I get it, I’ve been that person, it’s crowded, it’s hard to get waves… but at what point did it get like this? It’s like surfing somehow forgot what it was all about somewhere along the line.
The crowds and that angsty side to surfing won’t go away but personally I think it’s refreshing to see people riding boards that celebrate the simple objective of catching more waves and having a good time. Boards that will work when the waves aren’t ideal (but also when they are on for that matter!) and that will get you a higher wave count and a bigger smile on your face. Ride them finless, lying down, however you like.
One theory is that the foamie is so popular because it marginally diminishes your expectations – Luke Kennedy, Tracks
Luke suggests that when you surf a softboard, any move you make feels like a real achievement and brings back the buzz we all felt when we were initially learning. Whereas when you jump onto your regular board your ego can instantly take a hit as you compare yourself to the higher echelon of surfing pros. That idea makes a lot of sense to me.
The softboard brands are fully embracing this too, creating colourful character in their branding that embodies the ‘have fun and don’t take this so seriously’ vibe. Perhaps no one brand more than the pioneers of the softboard movement themselves, Catch Surf. These guys are having more fun than anybody and have exploded over the past several years.
Softboards are cheap(er).
So I don’t want to open up the can of worms of environmental morals and the considerable waste generated by the surfboard manufacturing industry (that’s an important topic to explore another day), but the bottom line is that foamies cost considerably less than regular surfboards. People like that. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re going to go and buy 10 boards when you otherwise would have bought 5. It just means you won’t have to sell an organ to afford that new surfboard.
How many times have you dropped a brand new board in the car park or leaned it up against something to admire it and the next minute it has fallen to the ground? Every. Single. Time. That I get a new board. It’s painful. Until you’ve dinged it so many times you don’t really care anymore. That’s however the beauty of softboards, they can bump around, pile into the car or even into someone else in the surf and it doesn’t really matter. You don’t have to treat them like gold, they’ll take the run of the mill hits that surfboards do and (probably) won’t fare too badly.
Saying that, they aren’t indestructible and while blunt knocks shouldn’t cause too much damage – sharp objects will wreck havoc! Due to their relative hardiness and also due to their cheaper price point as I mentioned before, a lot of people feel like they can take more risks on a foamie that they ordinarily wouldn’t – surfing near rocks, jumping on to a mate’s board, surfing close out shoreys right onto the sand… all supporting reasons for the aforementioned fun factor.
They’re getting better (and more responsible)
With so many brands now competing in the softboard niche, there’s no doubt that the quality and technology of construction is constantly improving and the lift in performance of these boards is surprising a lot of people. On top of that, there’s a great movement flying the flag for recycled plastic in their construction (eg. Almond Surfboards and Formula Fun in California, and Spooked Kooks in Australia) which is inspiring to see and hopefully will become the norm in the industry
As well as the construction itself, the sheer variety of board styles that are available now it amazing. Everything from soft bellyboards, shortboards, fishes, quads, mid lengths, longboards and everything in between so we are getting spoilt for choice.
The Pro’s are buzzing on them.
To me, it’s cool to see pro surfers jumping on the softboard wave in a big way and clearly having a really great time of it. The godfather of the softboard, Jamie O’Brien has been having a blast on these boards for many years now and is constantly pushing the limits.
Check out this video below of the 2019 Soft Top Soiree in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Surfers like Rob Machado and Josh Kerr absolutely ripping and having a rad time in what looks to have been a really enjoyable event with a sense of fun that you don’t really see at a regular world tour event.
Join the Softboard Revolution
These are just a few reasons why surfers are digging the foamie movement. Sometimes we need a reminder that it’s just surfing, so ride the boards you want, catch more waves and enjoy it!
Get Foamie provides independent reviews of soft top surfboards and buyer guides to help you sort through the huge amount of choice available.