Soft-Top Revolution?

Words: David Campbell

Wavestorms have taken a piece of the surf industry by storm (pun intended and I’m sorry) and it’s pretty much near damn impossible to not have a freakin opinion on it. No matter what your stance on the soft top revolution is, you can’t deny that there is something going on at pretty much every beach from the east coast to the west coast to Jamie O’brien at Pipe. A true testament of these Costco Warehouse (made in China) boards is that everyone knows about them, like everyone. For our non American crowd a Costco is a magical/scary store where you can buy everything from a case of 500 batteries to 30 jugs of vodka all at once and for fractions on the penny.  So saying these boards lack a lil bit of a soul is an understatement for the ages.

Simon Anderson created the thruster, now that is pretty much the go to board at waves around the world. Costco warehouses have done something similar for beginners, but not everyone is stoked on them, and those reasons aren’t always unwarranted.

The blue and white pieces of foam sell dirt cheap in terms of surfboard economics, $89.00 at one point. They sell fast too, Costco frequently runs out, not only during the summer but during the winter months as well. On any given day, anywhere on an American coast there is someone lugging these things around, usually dragging their leash on the ground as well. Next time you’re at a popular surf spot, take a look around and see how many you actually see. Love em or hate em, they may suck, and the boards themselves may send you down the beach to a peak sans wavestorms, but could they have a positive impact on surfing? Maybe… probably depends on the griper though.

Soft tops kinda suck as a surfboard in general. They are solely for someone who can’t surf make it so they can surf. Be as buoyant as fucking possible so it can get that 300 pounder up. As far as surfboard design goes, these are pretty elementary and not sure the word “design” can really be put in the same sentence.  

Shapers seem to be one of the crowds of folks in the debate that seem to have some disdain for these floatacious softies.  The argument against China made goods, and how cheaply they are made seems to rub shapers the wrong way. But in the grand scheme of things Shapers may be the one’s who could benefit from a market where the Wavestorms exist. The boards help a beginner get to his/her feet, but when it comes to making a proper bottom turn or actually get a feeling for the wave, then the wavestorm becomes obsolete. Now that person is in need of a real surfboard, thus creating one more consumer for the Shapers, bringing in new money where possibly the client would never have gotten to that stage before the soft top revolution. The real loser of the wavestorm era may be the surfers in the lineup that aren’t on a wavestorm and have to share waves with someone who has decided to not care about anything except getting a lot of waves and not doing much on them.  

Wavestorms could unanimously get more love if they stayed in the whitewater, and were put away on days that are considered “good” waves.  This is when I have noticed the negative side effects of these boards.  Especially when the rider of said board is not a beginner but yet an average surfer who wants to tally his wave count while taking a break on measuring the distance of his own piss. The boards let you get into anything, and that can put an exclamation mark on some people’s actions. If you are an asshole when you ride a normal board, well a wavestorm lets you be a bigger asshole.

At the end of the day though it’s all about fun and it is just a toy board. It’s taken off like no one would have ever expected.  A wavestorm can be more fun than any board in ankle slapping waves when you are starving for a wave. They can put food in the mouths of more shapers down the road, but currently they are making the appearance of stealing from the cookie jar of an already very hungry surf industry.  China vs The Shapers, becoming an age old battle where the outcome is obvious. People who care about surf craft aren’t gonna stop riding a board made from a shaper. The people who are too kook to tell anything about surfboards will start out on these till they are ready for a better surfboard. Luckily they have something soft for when they shoot their boards out at a crowd of people.

Whether we like it or not these things are gonna keep occupying line ups across the globe giving newbies a chance to surf. They can be fun at times and can serve their purpose. If you’re looking to steal waves from folks then here’s your perfect weapon, but the snarls you may get from a line up probably aren’t going away anytime soon and not even Jamie O’brien can make them look cool.  



Florian Saylor

today is May21, 2017 I will be 64 next month June tenth.. I live in Daytona & surfed many years..until 2008…Back pain & busy days kept me away and thoughts of surfing were few…until recently…I have dreams of surfing and the urge to get back to the ocean is almost daily thinking now.. Remembering the exhausted feeling of contentment after a good surf session and a snack and a nap when I got back home…ahhh yes ..i am getting back in shape to do this again before I am beyond the limit of it happening.

Florian Saylor

I just got back into surfing after a layoff of 6 years living in Memphis. I moved to Santa Cruz and while you’ll see these in nearly every line up outside of Steamer’s Lane; I went for a $1200 locally shaped 9’6" Michel Junod vs the WaveStorm. It took me about 3 months of consistent weekends to get back to where I was. I swapped out with a buddy who has a WaveStormas a back up and I have to say I had a blast. I’m getting one. Flash forward to last week and I swapped board with another local who had a WaveStorm for a couple of rides and he paddled back and said he’s getting Fibreglass Junod next as it’s like real surfing. I guess it’s about what you’re needs are and what you are looking to get from your sessions. For me it’s just being in the water and emptying my mind in pursuit of the stoke.

Florian Saylor

It’s like golf, you get them hooked with a cheap set of clubs and then they will look for better equipment.

Florian Saylor

Shapers dont benifit. When you are done with your foamie, you buy a hypto krypto.

Florian Saylor

Great article! Didn’t realized that shapers could benefit down the road. There’s time and place for these kinds of ‘toys’, but ultimately we have to respect each other and play nice. There’s a wave for everybody.

Florian Saylor

great post!

Florian Saylor

“If you are an asshole when you ride a normal board, well a wavestorm lets you be a bigger asshole.”

I entirely agree.

Florian Saylor

I think these boards are perfect for surf schools as they are an organised obvious crowd and they are a great way to build early confidence for people to move on to proper boards. I have also had a few friends who only got to surf a few times a year and had one of these as it could be jammed in the shed with no worries and then broken out for a whitewater session. If you are beyond the whitewater in your ability however I truly believe you should get a real board and if you are worried about wave count or your ability get a mal! If you want to stay big then learn to long board! And finally just remember we are all out there to have fun (rewatch Sprout to remember the Stoke is for everyone) end of rant.

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