I love stuff with multiple purposes. I get excited by Swiss Army Knives. Shampoo + Conditioner makes me happy. When it comes to surf gear, I have that same affinity for multi-purpose items. Wax combs that have a bottle opener in the middle!? HOLY SMOKES! Boardshorts that also double as walkshorts so I can wear them all the time? Yep, I’ll take ’em! Hey, you never know when you going to need to go from the bar to the water with no time to change. My favorite wetsuit I have ever owned is the O’neill Mutant, not because it was particularly warm or stretchy, but because it had a modular hood design that allowed me to have two suits in one – how exciting!
I have to admit, though, that much of this multi-purpose gadget love stems from the anxiety I experience when I have too many things. Seriously, just the thought of owning something that I will rarely use makes me irritated. When I pack for a trip, I have the opposite problem of most people – I stress that I might bring something I won’t need, thus having a heavier bag and completely ruining my trip, if not my entire life. I’m weird.
This admiration of versatility (or the hatred of having two things to do what one thing can) also spills over into my choice of surfboards – or, surfboard, rather. Most surfers buy into the theory that a full quiver of wave or condition-specific boards is ideal. If you have the means to build up a stockpile of surfboards so that you have the perfect stick for when it’s 3 foot and onshore, and another when it’s 4 foot and offshore, well then, good for you. Most of us don’t have the cash – or room in our apartments – to own a whole slew of surfboards. Add to these facts my quirks regarding superfluous ownership of stuff, and you can understand why I am a proponent of the one board quiver approach. In fact, I support the one board quiver approach even when your one board is ugly, fat, and useful in limited surf conditions. My reasoning, aside from the weirdness already discussed, is that having only one board to call upon in a variety of surf conditions makes you a better surfer, in my opinion. You are able to really discover what a board can do, and what it truly cannot. For those who shape their own boards, this is the best way to test and improve on your surf designs.
Of course, there are limitations to the one board quiver approach. On certain days of the year, when the surf is huge and hollow, you may find yourself missing more waves than you catch. Additionally, if I am planning a 2-week boat trip to Indo, I am not going to take my 4’6 twin fin as my only board. However, I do believe that if you dedicate your time in the water to learning the ins and outs of the board under your feet, you can dial it in to the point where it can be surfable in a wide variety of conditions – even those for which it was not initially designed.
One board, better surfing, less waste, less pollution, less anxiety – all good.