Does Size Matter?

April 2, 2000

I’m not afraid to admit that I chose my board by the following criteria: much I like the
company’s image;
2.what riders use the board; the graphics look; and

This is a pretty common, although stupid, way of picking my stick. Almost no one chooses a board because it might actually suit him well. I have a friend who found a board that suits his riding style perfectly; he rides better on the board than on anything else, yet he doesn’t want to use it. The brand isn’t “him.” I don’t blame him. You want to feel good about what you ride. But wouldn’t you like to get another half-rotation or a couple feet higher, and wouldn’t you ride a different board if it could get you there?
I ride a Blindside Five-0, which at 132 cm long and 42 cm wide might be considered too small of a board for my body type (5 feet 11 inches, 175 pounds), but I really like it. Strangely enough, my girlfriend, about 5 feet 10 inches, 125 pounds, also rides a Five-0 and loves it. But to really twist things up, I let my 6 foot 2 inch, 220-pound friend ride my Five-0, and he too really liked it. So does body size really affect the board you should ride?
I talked to Jimmy Redmon, designer for Liquid Force, and he says you definitely should be concerned with size but not so concerned that you exclude riding certain boards because of their length or width. “You really should be concerned with total surface area, rail thickness, rocker and bottom shape. But most of all you should be concerned with how you ride and how you want to ride.”
In the most general sense, big riders will ride better on big boards and small riders will ride better on small boards. But you also must take into account style. Riders who take their moves way out into the flats are probably better off with more length and less width than riders of similar size who want to take their moves up high and land more wake-to-wake.

Stance and ability
Your stance is a matter of personal preference. Your ability isn’t. If you like riding a wide stance but you aren’t rock solid on your landings, you are probably going to want a longer board. Since a longer board will have more tip and tail beyond your stance, you have some leeway if you don’t stick your landings. On a short board taking the same width stance you have very little tip and tail. If you over- or under-rotate just a fraction you’ll dig the tip and crash. For example, a 22 1/2 inch stance (center to center) would leave 13 3/4 inches of nose left on the Iconn Kovak 147. The widest stance you can take on the O’Brien Phatty is 21 1/4 inches, and that only leaves you with 11 inches of nose and tail.


Riding style and foot size.
Not surprisingly, how you want to ride has a big influence on the board you choose, but interestingly, how big your feet are is also a key factor. If you like to cut aggressively, you need a board with thin rails that are easy to sink. But if you like to cut hard and you have big feet, your toes will drag. This means you are probably going to need a wide board with thin rails. If you don’t cut hard and have big feet you can go with thicker rails on a wide board. You get the
If you ride with a lot of speed – both boat speed and generated board speed – you can get away with pulled-in tips and tails. If you go slow, a wider tip and tail is better. Also, if you have really big feet and a wide stance, a wider tip and tail is best. On the other hand, if you have small feet, a narrow stance, and ride fast, you probably should ride a narrow tip and tail with thin rails. Confused yet? Look at Darin; his board has really narrow tips, but he can get away with it. He generates so much speed that he doesn’t need as much surface area to keep his board “afloat” on landings. If he rode his style on a board with much more surface area, he’d be all over the place.

The better you are, the less these rules of thumb matter. Looking at our charts, the pros show no direct relation among weight, width, height and length. In the first column of Chart 1 we organized the riders by their weight from lightest to heaviest. The second column shows the riders organized by their board widths -those with the most narrow boards coming ahead of those who ride wider boards. The third shows riders listed from shortest to tallest, and the fourth column shows the riders whose boards are shortest to longest. If there were any correlation between the pros’ body sizes and board sizes, their names would be about on the same spots on charts 1 and 2, as well as 3 and 4. But as you can tell, they are not. The only person who’s right on target is Bischoff. He, it seems by this method, rides the perfect board (width and length) for his weight.


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