After avoiding all of my health related rookie errors, the second thing that I will let you digest is my guide to equipment. I’ll go through what I’ve learned is a good idea to renew before a trip, and what is often not. How to give your board the best chance of surviving the trip, or at least remaining usable, and what other gear is good to bring along. This is aimed at the regular customer, working a job outside of surfing and only getting wet once or twice a week at best. If you travel all the time and know what you’re doing you don’t need the advice from this old, buckled scribe.
I often think back to a day at Tupira Surf Club in PNG. We had fun waves and I had two boards. Only one of which was good in the conditions we were experiencing and expecting for the rest of this particular trip.
Half way through a morning session on about day three, I blew a take-off and felt that horrible moment of my leash snapping as I got rag dolled under water. I popped up only to see my prized possession drifting aimlessly towards a shallow section of reef and rock. All it had to do was miss a large submerged coral head and dry dock itself on the sandy rock beach down the line. It wasn't to be and slowly my nightmare unfolded before my very eyes with my beloved 6'5'' thruster bashing into the coral head leaving an almighty hole in the deck and rail. Luckily it was salvageable with some solares and sand paper, but the experience made me consider my equipment and how important it actually is.
Lesson 1 - Respect the Leg Rope:
Replace your leash for every trip. It's amazing how quickly they lose strength and perish in the salt water. Locals really appreciate your old leashes that still have life in them, its not like they can drive down to their local surf shop and have their way with 40 variations of leg ropes.
Remember, certain waves have a tendency to test leashes more than others. During a trip to Pohnpei Surf Club, surfing the famous right hander, P-Pass. Our guide was using an 8mm thick/8ft long leash on his 6’1 shortboard. A standard 6mm/6ft leash would normally be heaps but due to the power of P-PASS and the speed you generate on the wave, there was no feeling of surfing with a heavy weight on your board. It was a useful tip from the guide, and we followed suit.
The biggest thing to remember and my pet peeve is people who make their rope at the end of your leg rope longer than the tail/rail of the board. This hasn't happened to me, but I've seen surfer after surfer take huge chunks of foam and fibreglass out of the tail of there board from a wipeout so powerful that the rail saver doesnt stand a chance with. The rail saver is the velcro at the end of your leash and it isnt there for show, its purpose is to do exactly what its designed for....saving your rail.