In an ideal world we could have one surfboard that would do everything – go well in all conditions, paddle ridiculously well yet still be ultra responsive and do exactly what we want it to , when we want it to. Unfortunately this magic board doesn’t exist – you can get away with one all- rounder, but the sheer variety of waves we have here in Victoria, coupled with other factors such as wind and tide make this a hard task.
One sure fire way to make sure you can get the most out of what the ocean dishes out each time you hit the surf is to have a variety of surfcraft, tailored to different conditions (ie. a quiver of surfboards). With winter approaching fast, with bigger/better waves on the cards and people starting to head off on trips to Indonesia and the Maldives – a question we get asked fairly regularly at this time of the year is what you should look for in a board for bigger better waves, or a ‘Step Up’?
Unlike your small wave surf craft designed for mushier waves where you are focusing on generating speed and releasing your fins through turns, in better/more powerful waves you want a board that allows you to control your speed and hold it’s line going faster, on steeper parts of the wave face. As a general rule, a little extra length/rail line, a narrower, more refined tail, a touch more rocker overall and lower rails will give your step up these characteristics.
Concaves are generally reduced somewhat in Step Ups, the reason being is that these designs are less focused on generating their own speed, with more emphasis on harnessing & handling speed and wave power. To increase paddle power most people add a little extra volume and length to their step up compared the all-rounder they usually ride. This extra paddle power is critical in getting into and onto the wave earlier – making sure you get in and down the face to make those bigger, steeper drops.
Having a bit more Rocker in your step up is also important – not only will this help you make steeper drops but it will also help you handle the extra power and speed. Extra rocker will also help you to sit higher and tighter in the curvier parts of the wave and draw tighter arcs, closer to the curl.
Having a different tail shape on your Step Up can also help you specialize this board to give it the characteristics that you want. Round tails, pins and occasionally swallow tails are the tail shapes of choice in Step Ups because of their smooth turning and wave gripping abilities.
If you are interested in getting a Step Up get in touch with one of our staff at Zak Surfboards on 03 9416 7384 – ordinarily we will have at least a couple of suitable options on our racks for most people year round with more options available heading into winter.
Photos courtesy of Wilson, Brent & Brixton