The rise of the 44″
By Jeremy Faulds
It all started with Mitch Rawlins and Ryan Hardy…
Like most Aussie bodyboarders I idolised Mitch and Ryan growing up. I was out there on my midnight blue, red pin, black rail bodyboard, the Billabong Oscillator wetsuit and of course the yellow/blueChurchills.
The trend at the time was riding really defined shapes, narrow, straight, thin. Following in Hardy’s footsteps of changing your custom shape by millimetres until you found the sweet spot.
Boards were shorter and with less volume, which if you’re riding 4-6ft wedges isn’t a problem, but for the general population whose bread and butter is 2-3ft beachies then you’re sacrificing a lot of speed, power, flow and enjoyment.
Over the years I’ve slowly been increasing the length on my bodyboards trying to find that perfect combination of speed and performance.
Obviously smaller boards are more responsive but they require more energy from the ocean to get up on the plane and generate speed, Where as a larger bodyboard is less responsive but requires a lot less energy from the ocean to get going and flying along.
We’ve all been there, surfing a super fun little wedge/reef and the whole session you’re fighting for more speed, trying to generate some power from somewhere. The wave only has a certain amount of energy that can be harnessed, the smaller the board – the greater the drag or resistance.
Take surfboards for example, how much easier is it to surf small waves on a mal or a SUP compared to a 5’10 thruster.
It makes sense that if you increase the length/volume of your bodyboard the increased buoyancy will reduce drag and resistance, therefor generating more speed.
I remember talking to Mitch Rawlins about bodyboard design, he’s been at the forefront of bodyboard innovation recently, experimenting with different core combinations, templates, he even making the bat tail look good again, but the thing that stood out the most was length and volume.
Now Mitch must be roughly 175cm and about 75kg (he got those thick thighs) and he’s been riding a 44″ out at Snapper, D’Bah, etc – we’ve all seen the clips and he’s absolutely destroying these smaller waves and having the best time while doing it with speed to burn.
I remember listening to the Le Boogie podcast with Ryan Hardy and he was discussing bodyboard design with the host Josh Kirkman and I was blown away that Ryan was riding a 43″ as his daily ride. Someone who was once so particular about the shape/lengths he rode had now resigned to a straight 43″!
Surely he meant 42.875′? Nope straight 43″.
We can all agree that Ryan has been surfing as good as ever over in Bali, the 43″ has been working wonders.
So once again Mitch and Ryan both got me thinking… my two favourite surfers riding boards I once considered too big for my height and weight (186cm and 88kg) who are actually shorter and lighter than I am and arguably surfing as good as ever!
That was all the motivation I needed. I jumped straight in the deep end, a straight up 44″ beast from Science (the colourway was beautiful – blue/yellow/red, classic) and took it down to the local wedge the day after it arrived.
I’ll be completely honest here, initially it felt like a boat. The first thing I noticed was how buoyant I was paddling out, sitting above the water and just gliding with each stroke. The rails are thick, they take some time to adjusts to but I knew right from that first wave that I would never look back. The speed was incomparable to anything I’d experienced before in those conditions (2-3ft wedges). Waves I’d usually be struggling on I was now able to enjoy, which after all is what it’s all about really.
The moral of the story, don’t be afraid to go long! Add some length and volume to your quiver. You’ll enjoy those smaller swells so much more which in turn will get you in the water more frequently.
Go big or go home (and don’t surf).