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Figuring out surf board VOLUME

In the past 2 decades with new technology in Computer Aided Design ( C.A.D. ) and the collapse of Clark Foam back in 2005,  the word VOLUME has been used a lot in choosing the right board for the surfer.  


With movies like "Blue Crush", surfers are dreaming of ripping big waves on their shortboards. 


But what is reality and being realistic ?  Do you ride waves that are high performance that matches the higher performing shortboard.   Would a longer board with more volume suit you and the wave better ? 


Going down in surf board size is like going up in C.C.s ( engine size ) for a motorcycle.  Can you handle the extra power ? Can you react more quicker ?   If you can't handle a 250cc., you shouldn't get a 1000cc. superbike.  If you can't turn a 7'6" fun board, you shouldn't buy a 6'2" shortboard.  


"But isn't a shorter board easier to turn ?"   No, like anything ( computers, bicycles, paint brush ), there is no potential on it's own, it needs the input of the rider.  Shortboards need to be ridden "On Rail",  not going straight in the whitewater. 


Less VOLUME means the rider needs to make and create speed, constantly moving from rail to rail.  A board with more volume has more float and easier for the beginner to stay on the wave.


To get stronger, you push yourself to lift a heavier weight.  In surfing,  you need to be able to turn a longer board with more VOLUME before moving down.    If you can't turn a 7'6", the answer IS NOT to get a 6'0".  Force yourself to ride ( and turn ) a 9'0" for a few weeks. Then later when you get back on the 7'6", you'll be able to turn it with ease.  


There are Advantages and Disadvantages to more volume.  A board with more volume can get on the wave earlier. A board with more volume can sit further out in the line up.  


The rider with the higher volume Fish/Hybrid got on the wave so early the shortboarders on the shoulder gave up paddling.  


Sometimes TOO MUCH VOLUME will hold you up on the face during take off.  Or if you don't have a good paddling and proper position at the peak.  


So how do we figure out VOLUME for a surf board ?  2 decades ago there wasn't Volume Calculators.  We got a board ( borrowed from the Uncle's on the beach ) and went for it.  As we learn to turn and ventured to different surf breaks, we went shorter and shorter.  


My advice is to forget VOLUME if you are not an Average / Advanced rider.   Go by LENGTH over your head.   

Learner/Newbie -  3 feet over your head  22-23" wide

Beginner / first board purchase -  two feet over your head  21-22" wide

Intermediate able to turn front and back side - foot to 1.5' over your head 20" wide

Average surfer in proper shortboarding waves - your height to little over.  19"+ wide


Once you start riding board the same height as you or shorter, you should already know what works for you.  VOLUME is a tool to fine tune your high level surfing technique.   Remember,  Ten different surfboard from Ten different shapers all with the exact same VOLUME, will all ride differently.   VOLUME is just one aspect.  Rail, Rocker, Outline, Tail design, Nose shape all affects how the board will respond......... not just VOLUME.  


Or you can figure out your board VOLUME this way.  Try different boards.  Take notes of what gets you on the wave, lets you turn and control the board from start to finish.  If the SOFTBALL setting was too easy and the FAST pitch setting was too frustrating , then stay where you are having fun on the SLOW pitch setting.  


If you can't get on to waves, drop is too scary, board is too squirrely to control,  maybe your board doesn't have enough VOLUME.   If you are having fun, catching waves enjoying the ride, your surfboard VOLUME should be just about right.  


please check out Matsunosuke Kugenuma and Philippine Surf Report on FB and to see more.  



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What's a better fin for noseriding ? Hatchet fin or Dolphin shape fin ?

What's the best fin for noseriding ?  So many choices:

Hatchet, D-fin, Nuuhiwa, Greenough, lot of rake / no rake, lot of base / less base, Thin tip / big ball on the end, and on and on.  


Look here at the line off the water up and over the board.  Notice the tail is fully engulfed under the lip of the wave ?


It's the crashing down lip of the breaking wave that makes the counter-weight for you to be up front.  The wave is your friend on the other side of the See-Saw. 


Does it take a good size and fast breaking wave to noseride ?  No, it takes patience, timing and knowing where to be on the wave ( even on small ones ).   Notice she is getting a good "LOCK" of the wave wrapping over the deck of her board.  


Taking confident cross-steps,  not herky-jerky shuffles is neccesary to keeping the board flowing smoothly.  Water cascading off the rails.  Tail locked down.  


Where your board is on the wave is important to get a good LOCK.  But also important is where you YOURSELF are on the board.  She loads the inside rail by walking to the right of the center stringer.  Slice of the wave creating that good diagonal line flowing across the deck locking down the tail.  


And like most things in surfing, it all starts from a good Bottom Turn.   The bottom turn in essense is a Stall that you can use to set-up a noseride.


Strong lock and walk up right immediately after the bottom turn.  


So what's the best fin for noseriding ?  I don't know.  What ever fin that allows you to turn, maneuver and place the board in the proper spot on the wave and the right moment.    What is more important to noseriding is the LOCK creating by the lip of the wave that holds down the tail ( NOT the fin ).  


please check out Matsunosuke Kugenuma on FB and to see more.  



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Reverse Triangle pop up

Last week we talk about the "Forward Triangle" not being a good thing.  So does the opposite, the Reverse Triangle, work better ? 


Getting your head over your back foot, creates the Reverse Triangle stance.  Most of the body weight / pressure is over the back foot.   Good ? Bad ? 


Your foot should be over the fins more near to the tail of the board WHEN you are TURNING.  If you are taking the drop, you don't necessarily need that much pressure.   Better to be in a balanced stance so you can make slight adjustments back or forth.  


Beginners are afraid to pearl ( nose dive ), so some are told to put more pressure on the back foot to "keep" the nose up.  I disagree with that advice.  Too much and you stall ( slow down ).  Then later with the weight shift at the bottom, you get bucked off.  


Head over the back foot creates the Reverse Triangle stance.  She wants to go left, but her body is twisting to the right.   


At the bottom of the wave, she compresses and squats.  The head goes more between the feet now. But now she is more leaning than turning.  The Reverse Triangle led to a overly wide stance making her stance stiff and too compressed. 


Yes, there are times when a too light person on a too big board needs to do whatever it takes to turn.  Here she's beginning to come out of the bottom turn,  so she leans waaaaay back.   But her heel comes off the deck, which cuts out power.  


If you are a GLUE FOOT surfer, most likely you'll end up in a REVERSE or FORWARD Triangle stance.  Her foot stays in place so the butt/head has to move back.  It is better to step back with the back foot.  ( holding an invisible wall isn't good either )


Life is 50/50.  Good day / Bad day.  Nice people on the train / Rude people on the train.  Sunny / Rainy.   Same for surfing.  You can't be too forward or too far back.  You can't only go Right, sooner or later on the wave you need to turn Left.    The secret to Life and Surfing is Balance.  Be centered.      (  and don't surf too much too long, you gotta wake up for work tomorrow. )


please check out Phillipine Surf Report on FB and to see more.  



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Surfing Pop Up

Are you having problems Riding down the wave, Bottom turning, Getting tossed in the soup ?  I always recommend to look 2 steps back.   Your problem might be your Pop Up / Stance.  


Problem #1:   Not Letting Go.

Not letting go of the rail means you're not confident or scared to stand up fully.  But that causes the head and upper body to go past the right rail and the butt to counter the other way.  


The one hand down compacts the body.  The HANDS not hand, should push off the deck not just let go of the board.  Notice she is on her back foot toes, not flat to the board. Very unstable.  Look down Go down.  


Problem #2:   Forward Triangle

"I want to go down the wave faster",  so people think to push down on the front foot.  BUT NO.  You drive the board forward by the pushing against the tail.  You steer with your front foot.   That front foot bias creates the Forward triangle stance.  ( looking down makes you stiff too )


Here the triangle is even more extreme.  He probably read that your back foot should be on the pad ( over the fins ).  That is true when you turn, but not taking off. One hand down throws his head forward and flings the front hand back to counter balance.  He's all twisted up !


Problem #3:   Butt out, Side eye, Outrigger,

Broken body line

Half standing up.  Body line is broken.  Head is NOT over the butt.  He is consciously trying to keep his vision up and out, but he looking from the side.  ( still little bit scared to let go or reaching out for an invisible railing to supoort him that isn't there )


1) broken bodyline.  Upper body / head goes past the rail ( butt will stick out the other way to counter balance )

2) reaching for an invisble railing

3) front foot pointed to the rail at 9 o'clock  ( should be more to 10-11 o'clock for a goofy footer ) 

4) front hand should be leading but now just defending 


"What's a good board ?  Can a shortboard help me turn better ?  I can't catch green faces, is PU better than Epoxy ?" 


All that DOES NOT matter if you don't have the basics of the most basics part of surfing down.  A good paddle and a good pop up.   Don't worry about how fast you can run if you can't walk properly.  And if you can't even crawl yet ................ then what ?


If you want to get better at surfing, learn step by step.  Master one technique before moving on to the next. It's not just my rule......



please check out Phillipine Surf Report on FB to see more.  




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How to surf small mushy waves on a shortboard ?

How do surf small mushy waves, particularly on shortboard ?



Even in Small Mushy waves, it is still possible to do radical turns.  But it's not only choosing the right board and fin set up.   It is being in the right place on the board and the board in the right place on the wave.  


To do extreme turns in mediocre conditons, you need to create extreme angles.  Rider rips his armback and across his chest.  Opens his chest to the face of the wave.


Then slams the door back shut.   Board comes from hard inside rail to hard outside rail.  Extreme angles mean more movement of water.  


1) Flat straight lines aren't aggressive. 

2) Reaching out trying to brace against an inivisble wall.

3) Bodyline broken kills power.

4) Stiff legs equal Stiff movements. 


Less angles equals less spray and movement.  Notice her tight cocked stiff arms and body versus the rider two photos above ?   On a shorter board, there is less room for error. 



Going straight in, is no good either.   You need to try to get on the face so you board/rail can trim across.  "So what if there's no face and it's just a closeout ?"   Then the waves/ride is over, nothing you can do. 


"On small wave my shortboard feels so unstable/squirrely,  so should I Crouch / Squat down ?"    No, your bent knees touching your chest CUTS OUT the power transfer from body thru to board.  


Riding Small Mushy Closeouts you need to be even more PRO-ACTIVE.   You need to begin your move BEFORE you see it, not just be RE-ACTIVE after the fact.  


Rider sees the throwing lip and times the rolls from inside rail to hit the lip on the flat bottom ( for more stability/float ) and eyes his landing spot before the top of the turn.  


Waist high wave going Straight Up Vertical.  You don't need Big waves to do Big moves.  


Shortboards are high performance vehicles for riding in high performance waves. If the waves are small and mushy, should you be on a shortboard ?  Or woud it be easier on larger board ............ Hmmmmm ? 


please check Matsunosuke Kugenuma on FB and to see more.  

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Layback turn

"How do you do a Layback turn ?"   Well for starters,  you need to be able to do really good cutbacks first. 


Usually the term Layback is included when describing a deep Cutback. So deep the rider's back touches the water.  


Somethings to notice in a Layback:

1) hand or butt drag.

2) fin(s) out.

3) closing radius turn as flows around the pivot point.

4) most of rail engage or flat to the wave.  


Hand and/or Butt creates a braking / pivot point.  


Sometimes a hand back/down acts as a support.  The curl of the waves helps to pop the rider back onto the board after the layback.  


Deep Layback Hack.  Butt and Hand buried into the wave. Front foot pulling the board back under the rider.


Curl of the wave throwing the lip over helps to push the rider's Butt back over the deck.  ( also a lot of core strength is needed to pull youself up )


Another version is a Layback Slide, in which you pop up on to a closeout or oncoming lip.   Almost like a floater, but this time you layback.  


Again the back hand and Butt act as a support.   Front foot draws the board back under the body.  

This is a good way to start practicing Laybacks. 


 This longboarder is doing a fall back, not layback.  


Laybacks are normally down with one hand down and one hand up.  If you're really daring like this girl, you can do "Double-Handed" Laybacks, but those really torque the shoulders out.   And still another version is where you transfer from back hand to front hand thru the turn ( that's if your name is Dane Reynolds ).   


Before you do Laybacks, you need to be really good at doing regular Cutbacks first.   Timing and a lot of speed and speed control is needed, so you can pop back up from the laying down position and link your turns.  


please check out Philippines Surf Report and Hope Cheng on FB to see more.   


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Frontside cutback / Backside bottom turn

When you turn "backside", you go away from your frontside.  So for a regular foot surfer, turning left is going backside, if just for a moment.


Frontside cutback.  Board rolls from inside right rail, to flat bottom ( this photo ), then to outside right rail.  

Look closely at the rider's technique.  What do you see that is good ?  


What's wrong here ?   

1) back arm goes up instead of across the chest.

2) front arm is bracing against a invisible wall.

3) butt gets way past the heels. 



1) front arm is locked to the body.

2) front arm is trying to steer just from the wrist.

3) bodyline broken.

4) back arm goes up.

5) head goes past butt, butt goes past heels.


Which leads to arms switching positions to try to catch himself.   But the action is opposite of the turn. 

( a lot of this could be remedied by turning his front foot to the 11 o'clock position instead of 9 o'clock ) 


He wants to go Left, but his body is showing Right.  


Front hand should lead the turn, back arm should come across the chest.   Here it is opposite. 


Which leads to the rider getting bucked off the board. 

( he is also to far forward to the middle of the board to turn, he needs to get his back foot over the fins )


Sometimes a hand up is for style, which is okay.  Drop-knee cutback.  Bodyline in line with deck.


Shoulder alignment going against the turn. Butt way behind feet.  


Remember the first photo ?  What was the good technique ?

1) Eyes looking thru the turn.

2) Front arm leads the turn.

3) Back arm comes across the chest.

4) Head stays over the feet.

5) " I " beam effect of the angle of deck and the rider's shoulders. 


Surfing is 50/50.  You can't only go right all the time. Sooner or later you need to turn backside to utilize the whole wave and get the most out of your surfing.  


please check out Hope Cheng on FB to see more.


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Have more fun surfing in the New Year

Duke Kahanamoku said " the best surfer out there is the one having the most fun".   But are you having fun going straight ?  Are you having fun apologizing for being in other's way ? Are you having fun going over the falls ?

Good and Fun surfing starts with the BASICS.  Good position on the board and on the wave.  Eyes looking to the next move.  


Good and Funsurfing is working WITH the wave.   Here she hits the throwing lip and rides with it down.  She spots her landing site BEFORE the top turn happens.


Before you go UP, you first must go way DOWN.  Coming off the bottom turn, she spots the area of the lip she wants to hit.  Back arm rips around/behind her back to twist her waist/torso.  Body line is with the angle of the board, not bent or broken.


At the top, matches power against power. She pushes against the wave as it pushes against her.  Back arm which WAS at the back, now rips forward to add more pressure and turn the body away from the lip.  


She lands on the flat bottom of her board so as to not catch a rail in the turbulent white water closeout.  


To late and a little behind the lip, she chooses to straighten out and come around the section.  Notice spray coming off both rails and her front foot toes lifting up to "give" power to the back foot and lighten the nose. 


Falling up the face, she "resets" her rail ( notice spray coming off the insde rail only ).  Hands are in the neutral position.  


Coming out onto the shoulder, she OPENS up her leading arm to the wave, brings her back arm across her chest  and comes back to the curl. ( again bodyline is inline with the angle of the deck )


Down, Up and Around to another Down, Up and Rebound off the white water.  


Surfing is MORE fun, if you can turn more, utilize the whole wave more and ride for more longer 


In the New Year challenge yourself to do more in your surfing.  Turn more , cut back harder,  ride the opposite way-backside or maybe something as simple as finishing the wave without jumping off.  


Thank you for all the readers of my surf better blog.  Have a Happy New Year full of Fun Surfing.  


please check out to see more.



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54" Beater "If you can't beat them, then join them ?"

Soft surfboards have gained in popularity.  Probably a lot due to the Catch Surf "Beater".   But if "everyone" is riding "Beater" boards, should you get one too ?   It depends.


The "Beater" name implies to rules at beaches than ban Hard boards.  So a flag is raised up at the lifeguard tower with a black circle or Black Ball, to warn hard board surfers that they are not allowed to be in the area.  But bodyboards and some softboards are okay.  

There are also rulings against length of the board or boards with fins depending on the area.   The photo above shows a rider on a Catch Surf 54" Beater with a single fin.   In Japan, the ruling for "Kaisuiyoku" ( area reserved for swimmer and bodyboards ) is NO fins and softboards less than 47 inches  (  it's probably to block the 48" Beater board )


I wouldn't recommend Beater boards for beginners.  As it name implies, it's made to beat the system. So for surfers who know how to surf, yet not allowed to use their usual shortboard.  

NOTICE how the rider is literally flying across the wave.  Basically only the very back rail edge and tail is in the water.  He takes a very high line and weights and un-weights to keep up his speed.  


Softboards are safe for beginners if they get bang by their own board.  Most have RUBBER fins.  An advantage for Beater boards is the rider can ride out of floaters/closeouts in shallow beach breaks and not worry about breaking their board or ripping out fins, where other hard boarders might have to pull out a lot earlier.  Longer rides, yeah !


With beater boards you can get a little silly and experiment with techniques you wouldn't try on a hard board.  Doing a "Cheater" on a "Beater" is only a skip and hop away.  


The Catch Surf "Beater" is the most known.  But probably the first was the 4'10" INT "Blackball beater" ( which now is called the "Real Blackball Beater" to show they were the first to come out with the concept.  )  They cost more but construction is better.  


Should you get a Beater board ?   If you're a beginner or only can go straight in the whitewater, than NO.  If you're a competent surfer and want a safe fool around board in beach break than YES.  If you have a little grom kid and worried about them getting hurt with a hard board, then the beater is good for them too ( but you'll probably be stealing it away from them )  


please check out Matsunosuke Kugenuma on FB to see more.   





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Surf Fin Cutaway Flex ( and eco-friendly )

"What's the best surf fin ?"

"What's the best fin configuration ?"


There's many types of surfboards. Long, Short, Fun, Hybrid, Fish, Gun, etc. 

Arrow is pointing to the left fin coming out of the water on his round house turn on a shortboard. 


There's also a lot of different fins.  Single, Twin, Thruster, 2+1, Quad, Flex, Cutaway, D, Boomerang, etc.

My white NSP 7'10" Fun board has a Twin-Stabi set up.  Two large front fins and a small trailer fin. 

My friends Long board has a 2+1 set up.  Large middle and small sides up front.  


So what's best ?   Are bigger fins faster ?   Are smaller fins more manueverable ?


It depends on the board ( rail, tail, rocker, volume ) 

It depends on the rider ( technique, weight, speed )


Some surfers like stable and "classic" feeling of a single fin. Other's prefer the "modern" 3-fin thruster.  I like the looseness of a twin fin ( even on my longboard ) 


People say the stock plastic fins are "no good". They recommend to "upgrade" to honey-comb, carbon-fiber or fiberglass fins.  Here the surfer is on a board with a RUBBER fin.  He is NOT relying on the fin but on rail control and putting the board on the right spot of the wave.


Here's a good answer to "what is the best fin ?".  

This is my friend Saito-san ( taking a shower after surf ).  Do you notice his fin ? Look very closely.........


Yes, it's a EDAMAME  ( Soy bean )     Well it might be made out of rubber like the famous fake food displayed in front of Japanese restaurants.  


Saito-san says there's a bit of flex.   The shadow looks like a nice Hatchet fin.


I was in the same heat at a surf contest with Saito-san. He used the exact same soft top longboard but had a 1 centimeter fin.  He got 1st , I got 2nd in that heat ( and 2 others guys didn't advance ) .   Goes to show it's not the fin that's most important but the rider that is most important to turning and making a board perform.  


Like people, surfboards and fins comes in all shapes and sizes.  There's no one best type of anything. It depends on the user. 


Next time someone asks you "what's the best fin ?",  ask them back "what's the best arrow ?"  


please check out,  matsunosuke kugenuma on FB to see more.  



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