Go on. You’ve earned it. Get that brand new board that you’ve long been eyeing on the rack at your favourite local surf shop. It’s been whispering to you, “Do it.”
Sweaty palmed at the counter, you breathe easy as you see “Approved” appear on the payment terminal. Hold up. Before you walk out of the store with that crispy stick under your arm, you’re gonna need to set it up!
Fin choice is the first and most crucial decision. There’s a ton of options. Fortunately for you, we’ve explained surfboard fins in a recent blog post to help you make sense of it all.
Make sure that the fins you go with match the fin boxes on your board (Futures fin boxes only fit Futures fins etc), and that the fin set up is appropriate for the shape. For example, a board that has been shaped specifically to be set up as a thruster, might not work well with a twin-fin set up.
There’s lots of good kit out there, and then there’s some not-so-good kit. Leashes are one thing you do not want to go cheap on. Buy new, and buy quality. The way that I think about it is that rock climbers won’t be buying used, tattered ropes. As such, surfers should not do the same with leashes.
Creatures, Dakine and FCS brands all make dependable and user friendly leashes. You always want a leash to be the same length or slightly longer than your surfboard. If you are using an old leash of your own, be sure to check for damage and wear before attaching it.
One last thing on leashes. I’m just going to leave this here:
This image shows your leash tie. This is the piece of cord that attaches your leash to your board. Make sure that it is doubled up through your leash plug and securely tied.
A wax coating applied to the deck of the board provides grip. It’s what keeps on the board when paddling and riding waves. Too much, too little, or patchy wax can ruin your surf session.There are a few different schools of thought here. It’s a touchy subject so I’m just going to give you my preferred method and you may take it or leave it.
I use the “cross-hatch” method with a healthy amount of basecoat or tropical wax to form the sticky bumps.
This method consists of using the hard edge of the wax puck to a crosshatch pattern on the deck, covering the area where you will be lying down for paddling, and placing the feet when riding. I then rub the face of the wax puck in small, concentric circles across the deck with medium pressure. Go over the deck a few times with the circles. You will notice the sticky bumps form along and in between the cross-hatched wax lines. Be generous with the basecoast as this will give you a long lasting wax job. Once you have noticeable bumps formed, apply some cold water wax (purple or yellow Sex Wax in canada). I use about 80% basecoat, and 20% cold water wax, and give a little top-up of coldwater wax before each session, sometimes skipping it if I notice I have plenty of wax build up. Be sure to replace your wax job every so often as it starts to clump and get dirty.
Traction pad optional
For high-performance shortboards, adding a traction pad for the back foot is a popular option. The traction pad helps with the increased force applied on shortboards; it helps keep the back foot in place. Applying a traction pad can be tricky and painstaking because you only have one chance with the adhesive on the deck of the board. Take your time and mark out with a pen where you want to place your pad before you peel off that adhesive backing.
Take the time to set your board up well and you will thank yourself. To recap, remember:
Fins: Are they compatible? Are they appropriate?
Leash: Is it a trusted brand? How is the condition of the leash? Is it the same length as your board?
Wax: I use the cross hatch method. Remember to get a good basecoat. This is where you’ll get your sticky bumps.
Traction pad: Take your time, mark it out.
Blog written by Adam Tory