What board designs are working at the Surf Ranch?

After watching the opening day of the Freshwater pro it became clear that some pros had equipment that worked (Gabriel and Johanne for sure) and others who didn’t. There was a lot of nose-poking and rail digging – even by the King himself.

So what works? Some surfers went so far as to use a different board on the right and a different board on the left, like Griffin Colapinto (15.50 heat total) who found an extra inch helped him drive on his backhand.

While the Lemoore wave looks perfect, it’s a deceptively tricky wave. Factor in erratic practice runs for competitors (have all competitors gotten as many runs there as Kelly has?) and the Surf Ranch is a tough beast.

Jesse Mendes on a Bradley shape at the Freshwater Pro.
Jesse Mendes (above) and Griffin Colapinto (top) had good runs on their equipment during Day 1 of the Freshwater Pro. Photos WSL via Getty Images

Mild-mannered Quiksilver shaper Christiaan Bradley makes sleds for tour competitors Leo Fioravanti and Jesse Mendes. He cut his teeth in the shaping bays of the Gold Coast before bouncing around the globe and landing in Hossegor, France as the central gear in the Euroglass factory machine. He’s shaping more and more boards for Kelly’s.

“I think the wave separates the average surfers from the very good surfers,” says Bradley. “You’ll see a lot of guys who are in that top echelon do really well there. Last year Jordy had problems with his size of equipment. The pocket size of the wave and (surfers having) the ability to turn tight in the pocket are key.”

Christiaan shared his insight on making a board for Kelly’s in the below video

Matt Biolos says the go-to plan is to ride a standard shortboard there, but with a few rules.

“I must say that the general consensus is simply to ride a normal board, in primarily PU construction and if anything, go a touch shorter,” Biolos told us via email. “The thing is, this wave has a lot of power.”

Even though each wave is the same theoretically, it changes due to wind, which is something to consider when shaping a sled for Lemoore.

“(The wave) is usually affected by wind going both ways. Most of the benefits of ultra-light epoxy boards are not felt here. Although epoxy boards built to standard weights can be good, but for the pros, it made the boards twitchy and wind-affected. You really want to settle down into this wave, and like the Wave Garden tech, it’s essentially a giant boat wake, where you want to maintain forward momentum. A little weight can help here as well.”

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