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Beginner-Intermediate Recommendation

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  • Beginner-Intermediate Recommendation

    Wanted to get some advice on picking up my next board. I'm 35 years old and 132 lbs 5'8", been surfing for about a year and a half, going out at least once or twice a week (with the occasional surf trips to Hawaii and Indo where I'm surfing every day for two weeks or so). I can handle bigger waves and am pretty comfortable as a surfer all around but still consider myself a beginner-intermediate. I've been surfing an epoxy 7'10" Waterhog and have progressed quite a bit with it. For the past few months, I've been riding a 7'2" x 20 1/2 X 2 1/2 PU mini-mal and have been doing alright with it. Having a bit of trouble catching as many waves as my 7'10", but for the most part it's working. But recently, I went to a surfcamp in Indo for 2 weeks and tried a Neville 7'0" x 21 x (not sure of the thickness but it was THICK) PU and I loved that board. It had a bit more volume up front and was a little wider than my 7'2", but I found that it was a bit more stable and I could start to finally do maneuvers and catch more waves with it. The only problem was that my top turns would stick a little bit - that's when I could feel the board's heaviness the most. Otherwise, I probably did the best surfing so far on it. After plateauing for a long while with the other boards, I feel like I made a breakthrough. I think the extra bit of volume and the more stable with helped me out a bit, and the waves being overhead and not super steep allowed some more speed and time to maneuver as opposed to the quick beach break closeouts I'm used to in Los Angeles.

    So, long story but I'm really interested in maybe the Dominator or Spitfire or Hellfire to take my first step into riding a shorter, more maneuverable board. The problem is, not sure if it's my age or whatnot, but after 1.5 years of surfing, I still don't feel like a super strong paddler. I know I need to fix my technique a little bit and just get out more, but I find that it's easier to find the sweet "planing" spot on the longer boards. But I've just started to do maneuvers and am starting to see some real potential in my surfing that I want to explore, but I still have a hard time catching waves consistently - I basically feel like a beginner with paddling, but feel more like an intermediate when I'm up on the waves since I can pull off a quick takeoff and do a few maneuvers and whatnot with steep, fast waves.

    As a side note, I tested a 5'8" Dominator about a year ago and it was WAY too squirrely. Of course, I wasn't as strong and experienced as I am now, but I just don't want to get too short a board that I can't really paddle.

    So, would you recommend a certain board and size for me? I was thinking maybe a 6'2" or 6'4" Dominator or a Spitfire. Maybe too much volume, but I feel like maybe it would compensate for my paddle weaknesses and still help me progress with movements on the face of the wave.

    Any thoughts would be helpful! Thanks!

  • #2
    Since you are in southern CA, I'd suggest that you demo first. I am an OK surfer, but not great and if I was going with a Dominator or Spitfire, I'd be on a 6'2" and I weigh almost 70lbs more than you. Try the 5'8" again. Adjust from there.


    • #3
      Well you are in some sort of paradigm here. In order for you to surf more you're gonna have to catch more waves,,and in order to catch more waves you're gonna have to polish that part of your surf, let along get the proper wave.
      Dominator is a GREAT board all around, but for sure it will not paddle any better than a mini mal. The 6'2" and 6'4" are gonnabe too much board, it will help a bit with the paddling issue but it will get in the middle as far as performance goes. If you are to stick with it I recommend to go MAX 6'0" and work more on your paddling. Is mostly a timing and positioning issue.
      Now if you wanna asses the paddling issue directly, despite teh volume, the Addvance 6'6" will be a good option as well. Plenty of volume (more than you need), VERY stable, catches waves with ease (of course that requires the correct input) and yet performant
      Hope this helps


      • #4
        Thanks for the tips folks. I actually went out to day and got my hands on a 6'0" Spitfire demo board. I thought I would give it a shot even though I didn't realistically think I would be capable of riding it well. But wow. What a board. Conditions were crap, basically 1-2 ft but clean, and I caught a ton of waves. Turned amazingly well. And I didn't have too much of a problem paddling it either. I'll try to hold on to it to try it on some bigger waves when we get some swell, but it felt like a perfect fit for me.

        Going to see if I can get my hands on a 5'10" to compare (and a 5'8" as well). I guess I made a lot more progress in my surfing than I thought since a year ago.

        But wow, what a board! I feel like it could be the next all-around board I've been looking for. Now the question will be whether it will be a spitfire or a dominator.

        One thing that was interesting, the demo board had a quad fin setup which I've never tried before. Felt like a little less drag than my usual thruster setup and gave me a little bit of extra push to catch waves. Wondering if that helped a little in addition to the board just being awesome.


        • #5
          Glad you got to try a proper sized-board and glad it worked. For your size, I am sure you will settle into something in the 5'8" range without too much problem paddling. Catching waves with some push is more a matter of positioning and timing than it is of flotation. I am 6'4" and 210 lbs and found the 6'6" Dom to be far too buoyant for me. I am not a great surfer by any means, but the 6'4" was perfect for my height, weight and ability. The thruster setup is more stable in bigger waves, the quad is faster and looser and I like it in waist to chest-high.

          Enjoy the search, but don't buy too big. I did and I regretted it. For sale - Brand New Dominator 606.