Small Wave Barrel Board for Old Guy

Looking to get some insight on this. Thanks for the help.

Here’s my issue. 

I’m oldish, nearly 50, and my shoulders are shot in various ways. When its warmer and I’m not in a five mil wetsuit I generally ride smaller boards ok, but once it’s winter and I’m in the 5mil I barely want to ride anything lower than 45 liters.

Which is fine, except that many of our very best days in NJ are in the winter and the waves are shoulder high, fast, pitching barrels with heavy offshore winds. 

Larger barrels I do ok just riding a properly proportioned board in the 7’ range, and when there is time to get in early, especially frontside, all is well and good, but once it’s below head high it’s really hard to get that much board under the lip on those fast barrels, especially backside. 

So I keep wondering, would it be possible to shape a small enough board, say 6’4" and under, with the right proportions and rails that’s still around 45 liters to get me into those small barrels. I don’t care about turning at all, just paddling into waves and under the lip on chest to head high barrels. Does this board exist stock somewhere? I am open to the fact that this just may not be possible. 


Hey man,

I tend to think there would be a pretty wide variety of boards that would work for you. I’m partial to boards that are 6’6" personally I think that is a magic size. I have a quad fin bing i just pulled out to share w you. I dont think they make this exact one anymore, but just to give you an idea. its 6’6 x 21 (im not sure on the thickness) maybe 2 5/8 maybe a little more… but the foil is pretty thick ahead of center, has a good bit of nose rocker and surfs well off the rear foot.

Where i live in socal we dont get too many days like you’re describing but i took it out a couple years ago in sizeable hurricane swell beach break and it handled exactly as i thought it would. as a performance board its a little too big, but for catching waves easy and going fast down the line its perfect.

again i personally think a 6’6 or 6’8 could serve you well. anything under 6’4 is not going to have the right amount of volume for the type of shape you’re after. why not look for a shrunken version of whatever 7’ you like for the bigger days? 

Just giving you some food for thought, hope you find it helpful.

Thanks, that looks like a good shape. My 7’ is a real step up, shruken down it would either be much less than 45 liters or a very different board. I’ve looked all over at stock boards, and the closest think I could find was something like a Lost puddlejumper round pin. There are smaller barrel boards, but they are all much lower volume. 

For short/quick I would go for a wide point forward design.  Matter of fact, you might even want to cut back on the volume a little because you’re not going to be running waves down from a distance in short/quick conditions.  For those you’re either in position or you aren’t.   

It takes more energy to duck dive a higher volume board so that isn’t doing your shoulder any favors, either.   With paddling, surface area is more important than float.    Widths are more important than thicknesses.    You need enough volume to float while you’re sitting, but there’s definitely a point of diminishing returns.    Same with length, which i think you already understand.   

First you’ve gotta get that full blown double diabetic double over lap gut gone.  Or get yourself on statin or insulin.  You don’t need a thicker wider tube ridin ’ ’ barrel board;  You need to get healthy, lose some weight and then and only then get back in the water.  We don’t need “Water Patrol”  bringing anyone else in on a sled.

Haha. That’s pretty funny. I wish that were the issue. It’s just soft tissue damage that’s never getting better. No weight to lose. In Good shape. 

Actually, running waves down is an issue. Not in the open ocean sense, but last session I never stopped paddling for three hours. The current is pretty relentless where I surf. 

Got it.  Been there, done that.    With the volume and dimensions you’re talking about you might need an 80s foil; a bit closer to a beak nose and flatter deck profile + a nose-to-tail bevel to the rail.   The conventional wisdom these days is that it’s still better to add width instead of thickness or length, but you might have to do both in order to get to 45L without going to the 22" widths.   Depending on your stance, a thruster might be the right fin setup, too.   

I wouldn’t worry about using a “dated” design like this, either.  Most surfers of average ability or less (myself included) are incapable of outsurfing such a board.   


Nose to tail bevel! That would be awesome. I’ve learned this much in my journeys, thick rails don’t work well for the waves im taking about. 

This builder isn’t middle aged but he is a pretty big guy and he surfs 6ft lengths in faster conditions.   He foils his boards and fins them to suit his stance and his style.   Her’s a Youtube but there’s more info on his webpage and insta.    I’m sure you’ll be able to get an idea of how he does his decks and rails if you look around.    

I’m not suggesting you do what he does (unless you decide you want to) but when you watch how he surfs you’ll be able to see how his surfing influences his foils and fins.  And I think that’s the main takeaway when building for yourself; you want to try and fit your design to what you want to do with it as opposed to trying to fit your surfing to someone else’s idea of what you should be doing.   Even if you’re wrong it can still contribute to your progression for next time.

Thanks. I’ll take a look. 

Hi; what McDing said is really a concern in many many guys and a big problem when they appear to order some “magical” board but you say that you are fit. I have similar problem on the shoulder and the biceps have the tendon broke (like Popeye arm) plus a spine problem agravated by a car that smashed me 3 years ago.

The only solution is the surgery, A guy here that the waves teared off his arm, like me had a great surgery and after 3 years of recovery he was at 100% surfing again big waves in many spots around the globe.

Anyway; I think depends on the type of Surfing intended; if you keep trying with modern HP style of barreling smaller waves etc, you would go depending on your ability (train power force with the triceps and the antagonists, the biceps) so you need to train endurance strength and power strength. One to paddling and the other for the take off. Also you need to train cardiovascular to have th enecessary amount of oxygene when you are paddling (endurance) and suddenly the wave is for you so you just change the forces…you need plenty of air for that and makes the drop right. Of course all that to have a good level of Surfing; for recreational you do not need that much…but will be not possible to have modern surfing style hence an HP board.

With that and a HP outline but bulkier; if you are a good surfer, you can go pretty good. Is what many use on that conditions (included the 4/3 wetsuit and boots) so go with 2 3/4 on the middle stringer tapered out to tail and rails; not so tapered out to the nose but of course not bulky. Go with a quad or a bonzer set up.

All really good points. Fitness is definitely key. Without going into great detail, I am not considered a good candidate for shoulder surgery, but the good news is it’s not debilitating, just makes me a bit weaker than I would normally be. The explosive pop up and movement work is great, as is the rotational core stuff. 

I am in the same boat. Shoulders start pinging from a lack of soft tissue cushioning. I kept my mind open and surfed everything. Anything between 6’6 and 7’0 felt like too much of a compromise. Lost the performance of a shortboard without gaining the volume/glide of a midlength. Above 7’0, the boards were either big wave chargers or trim machines. Performance surfing was possible but looked goofy/forced and my bad knees were at risk when cranking a deep cutback. Left knee pops out sometimes. Above 8’2, the boards were for steeze. Wiggle the hips and footwork predominated. That’s all fine and good, but crap for tossing myself over a lip for barrel riding. So I went short. Really short. Started riding Fish boards, 5’4 and up. Boards could barrel ride with an early entry but were so damn fast that I quickly outran most pockets. I had to fade and tuck in, but it still wanted to race to the shoulder. I don’t have the skills to make these boards work on a wave with a lot of curve.

I now have two boards for most conditions.
For small barrels, I ride a 5’7 RNF 96 (MR twins with trailer), and it is small enough to drop in late, fit in tight barrels, but be slow enough to stay in the pocket, and still a stupid good paddler for the size. The trick is to be in the right spot in the bowl to not have to paddle much when dropping in. Which is why I only really ride it when I won’t be paddling to chase peaks.
For non-barrel days under 7ft or if I know I will be chasing down shifting peaks, I ride a 6’4 Salt Gypsy. I will gladly replace this board (when it dies) with a clone made by a local Shaper. This board is heavily marketed for women and discontinued, but can still be found for a steal. For a guy like me (6’0, 190 lbs, 49 yrs, and a meathead), its a magic board. Paddles like a board 6 inches longer, but surfs like a performance 6’4.

My advice… just go shorter. There are enough boards in the 5’7-6’4 range that will allow you to tuck in without sacrificing your shoulders for a couple hours. I will still jump on my 7’6 to give my shoulders a break after surfing a shortboard for a couple hours.

I don’t ride barreling days over 8ft. as I surf by myself the majority of the time in the PNW, and I have a family to think about.

You sound like my surf twin. I definitely went through all the same boards and issues. Glad you found something that works for you.

Since my post, I found a board that works for me, the lost lazy toy 2. The continuous outline and the flat to V bottom has been a revelation for me. Makes a big board fit into waves that you wouldn’t think it could. The irony is that I got the best local barrel of my life back in September and then took a beating a few waves later and my shoulder has been fucked ever since.