Small boards for big waves

well during hurricane iniki, my brother paddled out into 10 foot hawaiian ala moana park when the whole park was closing out on this little bushman 6’2" fish. Totally opened his eyes as to what was possible with ultra small boards in 10-20’ faces.

the key to ultra small boards is low entry nose and lot of tail rocker so you can paddle in and survive the airdrops and enough squirt to come around at mach 10. Although this session was sketchy to say the least, there was something to having an ultra small piece of foam to duck dive whitewater as big a houses.

He has a BK 7’0 minigun that he’d ride in those conditions any day.

Many guys here will ride a rawson, bk, bushman, brewer, hawaiian style 7’6" gun in 10-20 faces anyday just look at pipe or sunset. 10’-15’ hawaiian is going to require something like a 8’-9’ hawaiian gun but that’s pretty much hawaiian surfvival gear than anything else.

Yeah, just you paddle out on a small board and see if you get any waves. If your board’s much shorter than the crowd, there’s no WAY your’re gonna get close. Thus, I don’t cast aspersions on your guts, brains, or board selection capabilities (orlack thereof), you just gotta realize that it’s not only the wave you’re going to have to deal with.

That said, I did a six-hour stretch one day in a well overhead day many moons ago with a friend, at a Town second reef. Ben Aipa came out briefly on a real short, thick board, and to my delight, went cartwheeling down the face, got whacked on the head, and went in. Score one for the two haole boys on largish round pins. Both of us were in the mid six-foot range, about 225, and rode boards just under 8 feet long. Absolultely loved that day, but I got really fried, something I regretted for the rest of the week.

hey i’m with you Charlie…

bought a triple stringered double leash cup 9’6"x19.5" triple glassed waimea special pintail gun just for those kind of outer reef days.

Ended up using it just twice in some 6’ hawaiian which was way too much board for those waves

kind of like surfing an OC1

I guess I was kidding myself about paddling out into those mysto shark infested southshore reefs

Sold it 2 winters ago in the country where it got better use I’m sure.

Funny story about Ben I love it… He can be a wave hog at times…

when going short you don’t want to go thick at all.

With these boards you need to catch the whitewater on the shoulder and get in that way not a paddling in kind of a strategy.

We’ll be testing this ultra small board/big wave theory alot more this summer…

Will report back.

watch “stormriders” and see Simon Anderson surfing 12’ bells on a 6’6" original thruster. in the same movie watch wayne lynch charging on a simaler board in 12’ south oz lefts! pretty impressive.

i’m going to give my eighties thruster ago in that kind of wave and sea how it goes.


… in saying that i agree with honolulu, i like length in big waves.

i dunno cuz ive never surfed anything bigger then double overhead

or a bit smaller than blakestahs wave

on a short period swell

but the 6 2 works fine

im 6 3 and 85 kg

it actually catches waves better than the 6 10 mini gun

and duckdives better

it isnt as stable at high speed though.

i reckon if i built a gun for bigger waves

id go for something a lot bigger like 7 6 and upward

and id do some serious research on rockers

becuse your life may depend on paddling out of some serious situations

also id want to build up slowly to that size with lots of swimming under water

also id want to be adle to swim a a mile with out getting tired.

there is big waves here in NZ. but its way beyond my capabilities

and im not sure i really want to go there.

maybe in indo where its perfect and warm

that would be a good introduction

and maybe a smaller board would be sweet.

A good six eight or a seven footer will get you into most doh waves in oz provided you don’t have to race some one on a 7’6. made properly a shorter will handle the larger waves , rocker bottom shape and thickness will have a significant effect on what you ride with the chosen vessel.

Make it , ride it if it doesn’t work unload it , one mans trash is anothermans treasure.

post some ideas on width thickness and bottom shape as well as weight and hieght and go from there .

This wave measurement thing always confuses me. I would consider what Blakestah is surfing in his picture a few post above to be a little overhead (around 6'). So what I'm talking about is a short board that would cope with waves of nearly double the size of what is shown in that photo (I guess that means around 10'). ...

I felt undergunned that day, I woulda preferred another 6-8 inches length…

Twice that size, most waves I would not ride on a sub 7’ board. I’ve ridden that single bigger than that day, but just to catch a decent ride everything has to be JUST PERFECT, perfect shape wave, perfect timing and turn on the drop, give me an 8 footer and there is a lot more margin for error and I get a lot more waves and have a lot more fun on them.

Being undergunned is not fun to me.

But you’d need an accentuated minigun rocker, (2.75" on a 6’8"), WP forward, lower entry rocker, add an inch of wide, and 1/4" reverse vee, toe the fins in 3/16" and cant 2-4 degrees, and use thruster fins with 4 1/4" base width and 4.5" depth single foiled.

Thanks for the advice Blakestah. The basic consensus (as far as I can tell) from all this is if I want to keep the same length board but surf bigger waves then:

  1. Decrease nose rocker (for paddling speed)

  2. Increase tail rocker (to cope with the take off)

  3. Increase width or thickness or both a little (for extra volume - paddling speed again).

  4. Basic bottom shape - reverse vee to flat (for control and ease of banking over)

  5. Toe and cant the fins a little less than usual (for control and drawn out turns at high speed

  6. Wide point forward

Thanks to everyone for their advice.



RDM , this design is for big but kind of mushy waves, IMO not for tube riding clean big waves…

Hi Reverb,

Which aspects did I get wrong for large hollow waves? If you were to list 5 or 6 fundamental points like that what would the list be ?

Thanks for your help.



to clean waves Im more in the continuous rocker curves…not low entry

bigger and more vertical fins

flat bottom all the way

tail area

but Im not the Messiah

wow…so low rockers for big waves huh???..i have trouble with 3" in the nose for head high waves!!! current big wave board is a 6’2" x 23 x 2 1/8th thick…5 1/2" in the nose and 2" in the tail…no concave with slight reverse vee in the tail(I THINK)…its a square tail quad made by john mel at freeline…it rides everything but is really only a good board when its 8’+ on the faces…its great in 10’ and i plan on getting it in some 15-20 this year…cant wait for sealbeach surfside to blow up again…this looks like the perfect board for it…

…i know , i know this is a KNEEBOARD and isnt good for surfing on but i thought this thread might attract the kneelos that post on swaylocks as many kneeboarders never go bigger the 6’6" and some even ride huge sunset on 5’10s!!!

…it depends on rider size like every surfing sport…and im 6’6 and 220 so ill build a 6’6 and/or a 6’8 when i get back from surf-trippin this summer…


…just forget to mention the WP in the real middle for a thruster…