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Insights from Hurricane Humberto: Gear Selection for Different Wave Types

I think we can all agree that the 2019 Atlantic hurricane season was off to a sleepy start until about 3 weeks ago. Despite a couple of pump fakes – one named storm in May (Andrea, which formed prior to the official start of the season), one land falling Hurricane in the southern US in July (Barry), and an ephemeral Tropical Depression immediately after Barry – the Atlantic Basin brought nothing more to the table until very recently…as of August 24th to be exact. Since then, the Atlantic has seen eleven named storms – above the historical average – and of these eleven, four have become hurricanes.

As far as East Coast surfers are concerned, this fall has provided a few stand out days of surf so far, and we’d like to focus on one system that graced the coasts of Florida to Maine with quality surf (and not at the expense of others’ lives!): Hurricane Humberto. This past weekend was a good one to be an East Coast surfer, as the Cat 3 hurricane lit up many, if not all of the breaks on the Atlantic Seaboard. A few of our team riders were fortunate enough to capitalize on the best that Humberto had to offer on Friday and Saturday, and we’d like to share some insight to be gained from their success stories.

The general track that Humberto took through the weekend (source: NHC/NOAA)

New Jersey was among the many destinations on surfers’ radars this weekend, and three of our team riders were fortunate enough to make the trek down to the land of guidos and chocolate-colored tubes. The Jersey shore saw a pulse of long period (13-14 sec), head- to overhead-high East swell, an incoming tide, and light to moderate west winds. All signs pointed to one of the few spots on the shore that could handle this swell profile: one quasi-point break in Northern Jersey. Here, groomed, racy right hand cylinders were peeling up and down the entire stretch of beach, and in order to score one, you needed a board with substantial paddle power to battle the relentless conveyor belt of current, ample speed to keep up with the pace of the waves, and enough rocker to suit the waves’ curling faces. The boards chosen by our riders that fit these main criteria were: a 5’10 Pyzel “Sure Thing,” a 6’0 Pyzel “Phantom,” and a 6’1 Roberts “Turbo Diesel.” All feature relatively low entry rockers, appropriate amounts of foam under the chest, and a speed-generating feature – in the cases of the “Turbo Diesel” and “Phantom,” this was a healthy amount of single concave, and a channel-bottom tail on the “Sure Thing.”

As the rider of the “Turbo Diesel,” I was very content with my board choice. The second I engaged the rail into any wave, the board would effortlessly take off down the line, as its name would suggest. I paired it with a thruster set of medium ...Lost Futures fins (balanced ride number; my body dims: 6'1 x 173 lbs). What this outfit provided was: substantial lift and drive off of the bottom (ideal for speed generation), easy release off of the top when a turn section presented itself, and plenty of curve to match the steepness of the wave face.

While the punchy beach breaks were on some of the team riders' minds, rocky novelty slabs were on others', and so some of Breakwater's Rhode Island contingent opted to stay put in the Ocean State and see what Humberto could offer its rocky coastline. Turns out, despite a rather unfavorable swell angle (ESE), the long period Humberto swell had something in store for one of Rhode Island's favorite novelties, a pitching slab that has been well documented in recent years (we'll employ the aphorism: if you know, you know). Slab waves usually pitch particularly abruptly and violently, so board choice is critical. Board choice in these situations needs to take into account air drops, weird double lips, and overall user unfriendliness. We'll refer you to a recent instagram post by our photog friend, Patrick Murphy, below to see what we're talking about:Our team rider opted to ride his Pyzel "Pyzalien 2," a new iteration of Pyzel's favorite swallow tail thruster. Generally speaking, this shape's features - relatively flat rocker, filled-out rails, and wide tail - classify it as a "daily driver" and not a proper "slab" board. However, the board offers amazing paddle power - critical for scratching in as early as possible into a quickly pitching wave - enough rocker, and enough bite from the swallow tail to handle a critical drop (if you don't believe it, look at Pat's instagram posts of the session for proof). Other great candidates for this type of wave that we carry would have been the Roberts "Dirty Bird," or the Pyzel "Ghost" or "Shadow."

We hope this article gives some insight into the rationale that goes into choosing the right board for the right wave type/size. Hurricanes can be very fickle, and its important that you have a well-rounded quiver that can suit a variety of breaks that you may come across during a hurricane swell. We encourage you to keep messing around with different fin templates and board shapes to figure out what works for you! Everyone surfs differently! It's the beauty of the sport we love!

P.S: It looks like there's more surf in store for the Northeast this week, so if you have an Instagram account, make sure to keep an eye on our Instagram stories for surf updates.! And if you need any gear, or have any questions about gear, feel free to stop in our shops!


The BW Team

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