With summer approaching and the thought of the swathes of colourful softboards soon to be pouring over the dunes and onto our beaches, we felt it necessary to look deeper into what we have deemed ‘The rise of the softboard’ !
Let’s start off by rewinding 5-10 years. Those choosing to hit the line-up with a soft surfboard were instantly placed in the beginner or even harsher ‘kook’ category. How times have changed! Today the surfer running past you with a colourful soft top under his arm may well be one of your beach’s best surfers or perhaps even a WSL standout or surf movie superstar!
Like it or not, softboards are here to stay and let’s face it, what’s not to like. Most of our sessions are in small and overcrowded conditions and softboards offer a good solution to both situations. With the extra float provided by the EPS blanks and thick layers of PE and IXPE foams, paddling into small, flat waves is a breeze. These same construction features provide great protection against that all too common ‘board meets head’ scenario we witness in overcrowded summer line-ups. Now before your mind starts to wonder and you try to put the softboard revolution back into the beginners only category, think about that kid at your local beachie ripping the bag out of 1ft mush on his Fancy Fluro Floating Funstick! Jokes and quirky alliterations aside, these boards have found a permanent home within the surf industry and unlike the Fast Fading Fads (Oups I did it again) of chest zip wetsuits and front deck pads, softboards are in fact functional!
Although the defining point of a softboard is that it has a soft outer shell as opposed to the traditional hard fiberglass and resin covering, the construction specs vary a great deal and of course the quality as well.
You may find yourself being frustrated by the performance of your soft ‘surfboard’ when in essence, you are simply trying to surf on a very long bodyboard. The obvious over flex you will be experiencing will have you pushing water as opposed to gaining momentum. The rigidity needed for gaining and keeping momentum comes from the stiffness of the boards construction and often the best performing ‘soft’ surfboard is a hard board in disguise! These boards are in fact fiberglass epoxy boards made safe and more buoyant by the foam layers encasing them. This is why the performance you get out of a soft surfboard may even outshine that of your hard board in many instances.
Soft Surfboards have entered the marketplace to increase the fun factor and open up the sport of kings to a broader audience which acknowledges very little age or skill barrier, while at the same time extending its offering to the more experienced and discerning surfers among us.
As is the case with Stand Up Paddleboarding, the market is fast becoming oversaturated so if you are looking for a new summer softy but are unsure about what is right for you or your family, don’t be afraid to speak up and ask a few questions about construction and intended use of the model you are interested in.
See you in the water,