If you’re a big guy, as in tall and/or large, you’ve got only a couple of options when it comes to surfing.
- You can bust out a log. Think 9′6″ of foam. A log will be easy to paddle, and because of your size, easy enough to step on the tail and whip that boat around. That said, a longboard might get boring after awhile or just plain ridiculous in surf where you need something shorter to mind-meld into the face of a breaking wave.
- You can get a potato chip and flail.
- You can get what’s meant for you, in the form of a “Big Guy Tri.”
- You can bust out a SUP.
The Big Guy Thruster is built with bigger surfers in mind. More foam. More length. Wider. It’s a style of surfboards that’s either marketed as a surfboard for bigger guys or just happens to be a particular model of board that suits these kind of surfers. As Channel Islands says – “Not to be confused with a fun shape or hybrid.”
Popular Big Guy Tris include the Channel Islands M13 (and now, the recently release Big Willy, shown here), the …Lost SDII, Harbour’s Drifter model. A ton of local shapers can make you a surfboard tailored fit to your size with the right amount of float.
Travis Lee from Channel Islands Surfboards is quick to tout the Big Willy, a new board that debuts in 2009. “It’s like our M13 in some ways,” says Lee, “but the Big Willy has a lot less foam in the nose and is more like a traditional shortboard, with a squash tail.”
Says Steve Avery, GM of …Lost Surfboards: “While we don’t make a surfboard and market it as a Big Guy Tri, we do have boards that will be great for that and can scale up.” Indeed, the …Lost Speed Deamon II can scale up, or down, Avery explains. “The SDII can be a grom contest board or something a 245 pound guy can ride, in the right dimensions,” he says. That said, Avery cautions against going too big, crossing the 7′6″ point. “You might be 6′4, 245 pounds, but if you add a wetsuit, you might be better off on a funshape or even a longboard,” says Avery.
Mike Sopena at Harbour Surfboards agrees: “A lot of guys used to surf a 6′6″ pintail, but they’re not 150 pounds anymore. The Big Guy Tri is a good fit for them, if they’re realistic about how they surf.” Harbour surfboards offers the “Drifter” which runs from 7′0″ to 8′0″ and starts at around $750. “A big mistake we see are guys picking a board that is way too small for them. Not enough foam, and not enough paddle shape,” says Sopena.
What about the big guy’s surfing? Is it the surfboard or the surfers? “If you can comfortably surf head-high on a longboard, cross-step, cheater five, then it may be time to transition down. But baby steps,” says Sopena.
All in all, it’s probably a good idea to test a buddy’s step up board (a board your shorter friends will use in bigger surf) or even their Flyer II to get a sense of the work that’s required to get into the wave.
But if you’re a big guy, and not feeling the log or fish, a Big Guy Tri surfboard might be the way to go.