Paddle power?

Lately, I have been trying to get out in larger surf. The problem is when it gets big there is a horrendous sweep along the beach that seems to hold you in the impact zone and I can only get out the back occasionally. More frustrating is watching the surf lifesavers power out on their big paddle boards. 

I currently ride a 5’3 Al Merrick Epoxy Biscuit and when it is big a 5’8 x21x2 5/8 quad, but when there is any chop the quad is too fast /bouncy. I really like the extra paddle power of the quad but feel it tops out at around the 6ft wave height mark before I am starting to have control issues. I just bought a 5’10 JS prodigy which is better control wise at big snapper rocks and tube rides Kirra much  better but I miss the easy paddling of the quad. 


Its no fun if you can’t get out the back! I’m keen to hear people’s thoughts on  what makes a board easy to paddle. Increased length? Wider? Thicker? But still have control for bigger east coast Australia- max 10ft

I’ll chime in with a call for a 6’6" to 7" fuller outline but keeping the meat toward center. You need to find a local shaper you can trust and who listens to your concerns. Some that can dail in the type of board you are looking for.  

 I hear that The Gold  Coast has one or two guys that seem to know a thing or two about surfboard design. 

1967, after my second year surfing, I shaped a 5’10" single fin for experience, then the next board, a 9’7" x 19" full gun for bigger surf. I showed this abberation (funky ‘60’s colors) to everyone I knew who surfed, so the pressure was on to go out in DOH, or even Triple Overhead, surf.
Are you serious about "10’" surf? With a sub 6’ board? I suspect our wave size estimations are on a different plane.
Go bigger.

Thanks for taking the time to reply Lee.

I live on the Gold Coast and have surfed it as big as it can handle cleanly. Time is catching up with me and I’m wanting to get out there but finding it harder and harder to punch through the impact zone before the next set comes along.

I feel the surf here is not that powerful, compared to NZ, Tasmania or even down aroundSydney and am not chasing massive tubes, more fuller waves with nice walls to carve.

My issue is I still want to get out there but am running out of puff a lot quicker the I did 20years ago. I see the clubbies gettting out on their big boards and wonder if I should make a bigger board to make it out in between the sets as well.

Sure a 6’ft board would probably do (I used to use a 6’3 back in the day) but im not a pro, just your average 3-5 times a week surfer. 

I was thinking just under 7ft,thicker but not wider. I have a 8ft mal that I thought of going out on but I like to carve and really feel the wind resistance dropping in on that. 

Bigger all dimensions?

The Biscuit has a really flat rocker.  It’s basically a fish disguised as a shortboard.  If you want high volume, more rocker and able to handle bigger conditions one design that might meet those criteria are the Mccoy Nuggets.  He’s all about the 3" thicknesses and paddle power and surfing off the tail.    A 6-0 Nugget would have way more volume than your Biscuit.  


Assuming you wanted to stay short, that is.  

I guess I should rephrase the question. What makes a board easy to paddle, or enables it to cover a lot of water quickly?

I only gave the boards I’m riding in case it was relevant to the discussion, such as surf ability, experience. I know the limits of the biscuit and it is my favorite small wave board, no way would I consider it in anything over head high and it struggles even then in some smaller pitching waves.


The quad is better in larger stuff (not so corky?) but still wide, maybe too wide? when the waves get a bit more serious ( for example I surfed Kirrra all through the quiky pro this year ) and  was pretty careful on the drop and turns as it was getting a bit skitterish.

Again, just for clarity, it’s not so much about the wave size ( good call, Lee. I have a photo of a wave I am surfing and think is probably 10ft and others have called it 6ft all the way to 15ft!) but about what makes a board paddle better then another. 

More paddle power, glide, is created by going a bit longer, keeping the rocker moderate, increasing the thickness, and moderately increasing the width.

The key is the nose width.  Whereas a wider nose creates a paddling platform with enhanced glide, it also presents the primary obstacle to getting back out - a wider nose doesn’t penetrate worth a damn duck diving, creating a richochet effect, kicking the nose up and the board back.  So the rider loses ground on each duck dive.

sounds like you just need your basic step-up.  Couple inches longer, marginally wider, bit thicker, keep the rails foiled, the nose just wide enough to carry the template curve, easy to penetrate on the duck dives.

Don’t be shy, just go to 7 feet.     The bigger bang for the buck will be increased width.    So, longer and wider, is the smart move, in my opinion.   Both floatation and paddling will be improved, as well as wave catching ability.    When taking a board design wider, the ‘‘secret’’ is to  add the width in the middle.    That way the outline is not distorted, and remains true to the original lines.

Having the funds or a sponsor is nice but a quiver of boards may help. Do the work and take the best shape and just stretch and adjust width and tweak to board size, basically the same board every time you jump up or down. My recommendations would be 6-0, ?$, 6-10, 7-2, ?$, 7-6, 8-0, 8-6, 9-0 9-6 (try not to get out gunned, you only go around once). Of course you can avoid the sets and stalk to inside, believe me I’m a master (at riding foamy insiders!).

Awesome feedback, giving me a bit of direction to ensure I am heading in the right direction.



Do you read surf mags? If you read surf mags or follow pro surfing you will be led to believe that anythig over 5-11 is a crutch.  After all, Kelly rides a 5-9 in 8 foot Fiji barrels, right?

Get a proper 6-10 (not a mini mal) and you will enjoy catching waves and carving.

Actually we need Resinhead to set you straight about board size…paging Mr. Resinhead…