You may know who Tom Wegener is from the surf movie Sprout. He’s more recently become well known in the world of surfing for reviving the traditional “Alaia” surfboards and was named shaper of the year by Surfing Magazine. These thin finless wooden boards are incredibly difficult to ride but can be a lot of fun. They plain really fast in a straight line and slip ‘n’ slide all over the face with any little weight change. Those of you who’ve done a lesson with us where we take the fins out of your board will have an idea what it feels like.
Tom made some interesting comments recently about what he saw surf schools teaching and where he thought they were going wrong. If you’ve done any level 1 lessons with us, this should make a lot of sense to you…
“This summer I saw thousands of beginners in surf schools around Europe. The first thing they learn is to stand up and ride straight to shore. This is fine for those folk who aren’t really going to take their surfing much further than these few lessons, but those who catch the surfing bug and really want to ride waves have to unlearn these early lessons. It would be much better for them to learn to angle themselves across a wave and get a feel for how the wave catches the board, THEN stand up… …First they would master the art of riding prone really well. Then they would learn about catching waves and angling themselves correctly. Finally, when they stand up they’ll already be at the right angle to catch the wave. If they choose to carry on surfing outside of the lessons, they’ll have a much better understanding of how to move with the waves and surf a crowded break.”
We were stoked to hear Tom speaking out in support of the Innocent approach. We actually like to take it a step further and get our would-be-surfers moving their weight from the back of the board (brake/steering wheeling) up on to front (the accelerator) too. That way you really know what’s going and you end up standing up so that you can control the board better, as opposed to just doing it ‘coz it looks cool …although it does look pretty cool!
Here’s some awesome footage of Tom’s Alaia boards being ridden. Check out the surfers dropping their back knee in towards their front knee in that perfect ‘functional stance’ which we go on about. These guys make surfing these boards look easy but trust me it’s not. We’ll be getting some Alaia boards in at Innocent Surf School for you to use in 2010.
For more about Tom Wegener’s Alaia surfboards check out his website www.tomwegenersurfboards.com.