The idea that there’s been a finless surfing revolution over the past 10 years is a bit of a misnomer. Before the early 1900s, finless boards were the only type of boards available, and Hawaiians were surfing Alaia boards for hundreds of years. For those unfamiliar, an Alaia is a thin, round-nosed, square-tailed board made of wood and tends to be between 7 and 12 feet long, sometimes weighing up to 100 pounds. It wasn’t until 1935 when surfing pioneer Tom Blake attached a 4-inch by 1-foot keel scavenged from an old speedboat onto one of his boards that modern surfing really changed. And although progress is welcome in any sport, sometimes it takes going back to the basics to truly appreciate the task at hand. Most surfers today have never ridden a finless board and have little interest in doing so. Those that have ridden finless boards describe it as driving really fast and drifting on every turn. If you’re still not convinced, we’ve compiled a list of reasons you should be. Improve your style Style is one of the most objective things in surfing, but when someone has it, it’s undeniably beautiful. There’s no quicker way to point out your own flaws than by using a finless board. Chances are you’ll face plant on your first bottom turn with a finless board and that’s okay. With a little practice, you’ll master a sideways slide on your takeoff and look really cool doing it. Learn a functional 360 360s look good in general and they look even better when they’re serving a purpose. A wave’s energy works in circular motions and a 360 spin can harness that energy and give you extra speed for sections that might otherwise seem unmakeable. Once you get the hang of them, they’ll become as effortless as a bottom turn in your regular surfing. Master the Cutback Finless boards pick up a lot of speed. You’ll find yourself out on an open shoulder faster than a hipster buying Coachella tickets. And when you do, it’ll be the perfect time to dig into a solid rail cutback that displaces copious amounts of water.
Master the rebound
This goes along with mastering the cutback. You’ll be heading toward the whitewash with a lot of acceleration from your cutback and will have a number of options when you hit it, the most common being a 360 spin or drift. The fact that you don’t have fins will force you to use the waves energy to redirect yourself and get back on the face of the wave. It’s not easy, but will make a rebound on a board with fins feel effortless.
More tube time
Finless boards have unmatched speed down the line and give you the ability to accelerate out of deep tubes that would otherwise close out on you. In the barrel, you are also able to stall and side slip for better positioning. If you really want to test your balance and strength, you can also pull into a close-out and side slip through the whitewash.
If you ever look at old surfing pictures you’ll see several guys on the same wave, all having a great time. Sure the lineups were virtually uncrowded at the time and it could certainly be the case that those surfers were posing for the picture, but it’s also true that finless surfing seems to bring out the best in the people around you. People on the beach will ask what you’re riding. Other surfers in the water will be curious to see what you can do. They won’t even be mad if you drop in on them. Okay maybe they will. It’s never okay to be that guy.
Connect with the spirit of surfing
You might not think of yourself as a spiritual person, but the fact that you make it down to the beach on a regular basis and proceed to walk on water makes you a guru of sorts. Finless surfing will take you back to simpler times and remind you of the stoke you felt on your first wave.