After the Saturday Firewire demo in Pacific Beach, I decided to buy a Baked Potato. It’s is the perfect summer board for me: short, fat, and wide (heck, it almost looks like me!). Short means it handles well and has quick turns; wide means it provides stability in the frequently choppy/churny/crossed swell; fat means it has all the volume it needs to keep me afloat and to allow me to paddle into the better waves.
I demoed it three times already, so I feel pretty comfortable with it. The first time was at Pipes, at the Surfride demo day. I tried the 5’5″ and 5’7″ Baked Potato and thought the longer one better. It was a fairly lame day on a completely new break, so I am not sure I should have been all excited.
The second time was on a pretty big swell day in May. I happened to get into the Shores parking lot when I saw the demo canopy and decided I really had to try something. I didn’t have a lot of time, so I went for the 5’7″ Baked Potato and the Potatonator. Felt good, but I still didn’t feel I had a good idea of what I really wanted.
Then there was the demo day last Saturday. I mentioned it in a separate post, but what came out of it was that I really loved the way the BP handled itself in the backwashy surf of the day. It felt like a little aircraft carrier, always sure of where it wanted to go, but responding to my pleas to get around some section that was looking sketchy. It was the first board I tried, when the surf was still decent, but that experience sealed the deal.
Then I emailed the good folks at Clairemont Surf Shop, and they made the BP show up within a day. It may have helped that I was fine with a TimberTek, which is definitely a technology they want to push and that looks a little out of the ordinary. They are trying something similar with the Vanguard, their funky-looking performance board, and who knows how that is going.
Last word: I don’t know why surfboards are so insanely expensive. I paid retail for mine, after failing to find any place that would give me a decent discount. That’s a cool $699 for the board alone, and then add the fins and leash. WIth taxes, it all added up to almost $1000.
But this is for a low-tech piece of foam with layers of protection on top, a few extras like a leash plug and fin boxes, and the hand-written dimensions of the board on the side. That’s just stupid. A board should cost maybe $200, with plenty room for profit, and the fins maybe $30.
Of course, surfers don’t like more people in the water, and if what it takes to keep out the riff-raff is expensive boards, so be it. At least that’s the logic that seems to be applied commonly. That there are other ways of handling the massive amount of surfers in places like San Diego seems to escape people.
Additionally, the exorbitant cost of surfboards paired with the fact most surfers eventually give up creates a giant market for used boards. If the new boards cost $200, old board will most likely end up on the trash.
Now, as to why surfers give up, there are tons of very good reasons. Surfing is not for the faint of heart.
UPDATE: First ride. I drove to Shores, where the water looked calm and not as crowded as in Pacific Beach. Waves were small, with the first harbingers of the weekend swell coming through (long intervals). I’d say 1-2 feet, occasionally 3, and maybe one 4′ closeout.
New board jitters, of course, and I messed up the first few waves. It will take me a little to get used to riding without a traction pad, and a little more to get used to the new board. But I can already say that the Baked Potato catches anything you throw at it. Even the tiny crumbling shit, you get on with no problem. It handles closeouts fine, does well on cross-swell, and is forgiving of starting angle.
So far, not much length of ride, but I wasn’t expecting it. After all, I was barely in the water for an hour, just enough to get acquainted with the board.
Unrelatedly, I tried the new 2/2 springsuit, and it was definitely warm enough for it. I wouldn’t want to wear it on a late session with marine layer, but on a sunny afternoon like today, it was perfectly adequate.