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The Jordy Board

by Craig Jarvis / Images by Richard Johnson / 28.06.2012

It was a total mission, but I got my hairy hands on one of Jordy Smith’s surfboards. It came from his quiver of chick boards (about 20 boards that had ‘sexy’ girls airbrushed on them) and I reckon, despite the understated generosity, Jordy handed it over because it was the dysfunctional runt of the litter. Still, a dog from Jordy’s quiver is still going to be better than any of my other boards. Right? Jordy does rotes on single fin retro planks, he does backhand finners on longboards; he does spins on doors. His most dogshittest board, to continue the canine-themed simile, is still a contest-winner for someone like me. A game-changer. Right?

How to put this? Jordy has a healthy frame. While he might have lost some poundage of late, partially due to his somewhat overwhelming partner involving him in a righteous regimen of sound eating habits and physical activity of all sorts, and partially due to him wanting to put a victory or three under his belt this year. But he’s still an 85kg, 6ft pile of tonnage. While he might appear as light as an archangel on his toes, he is still governed by the irresistible laws of gravity. As am I. So I was happy to see some chest foam.

Was this board going to be the one? Was it going to see me do some ridiculous fin ditch? Was I going to be able to figure out how to waft a reverse? Is that even how you describe it? Was the board going to actually do the moves for me? Was I going to have a religious moment, start speaking in tongues and for the rest of time expostulate the virtues of having the right equipment? Was I going to be an utter doos about it as well, like some drug-fucked lowlife claiming a Jesus moment to get protection and a warm meal from a gullible church? It paddled nicely, despite the fact that it had a bit of a pointy nose.

These days, boards are a bit fuller, wider, and more rounded. All the design tweaks are in the tail and on the bottom curve, so boards can paddle like well and still turn on a dime. Which in a nutshell is about all I know of board design. I got out to the backline quickly and started hussling and gaining some dominance over the local schoolgirls on my stickered-up rocket. I was going to blow everyone out of the water. I was to be infused with innate surfing prowess, the kind that allows one to be runner-up to Slater, or even the kind that allows one to perform a fully functional round-house cut-back with a nice little bounce off the foam. Either would be great and a marked improvement on my current skill set. I wasn’t going to be fussy. This was an earnest affair.

I paddled hard, and caught my first wave. The board felt nice and stable. I got to the bottom of the wave and aimed the nose somewhere down the line, so I could pump, and then pump again, before setting up a slow cutback, as people of my skill set do. As I slowly navigated my turn, the board seemed to stop dead in its tracks. It was as if my leash had tangled around a kelp head, or I had run into a partially submerged tree trunk. I pumped again, and gained a semblance of speed, before I attempted to generate some more speed for a turn, it did the same – the board just slowed down to a crawl for no apparent reason.

The board was a total dog. It didn’t want to go forward, despite my best attempts at coaxing it. It was slow and cumbersome. Despite being light as feather, it felt dead.

After about 10 waves, enough to give it a fair shot, I went in and swapped it out for my bog-standard small wave pig. Paddled out, felt the normal whoosh of speed off the bottom, experienced the squirt under my feet, and managed a slow carve off the top. It felt good, like coming home.

That afternoon I watched a Youtube clip of Jordy on the same board. Competing somewhere far away in a freezing climate. He was rubbered up with boots and gloves, but he was winning heats. He was like a slippery piece of soap in the water, boosting and spinning and turning and airing and doing all sorts of high-energy tricks on that board. The board that didn’t go.

A local shaper pointed out a few things. The square-as-fuck tail, the concave here and lack of concave there, the scoop up there, the hip over there. It was a board made for people who go straight up and come straight down. The way to generate speed was to jam hard off the bottom and surf vertically, doing lots of turns, rail to rail, the kind of surfing that professionals do. The way to kill speed was to travel laterally, race down the wave so to speak, and have fun… as so many of us more cruisey (read: not so good) surfers like to do.

Surfboards are made to be ridden. They are not meant to be hung up, or put on display. Collecting surfboards is gay. Yet Jordy’s board is hanging up in my garage now, and if anyone asks me if they can ride it, I tell them straight. It goes shit.

*Catch Jordy and Friends in Durban on Saturday night at the Red Bull Night Shift… jetboosting in the shorebreak!

**Image © Richard Johnson / Red Bull.

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