Tim Swallow

Soft top surfboards for beginners? Think again!

5 pro’s that have brought foam surfboards to the next level

No, soft top surfboards are not only for beginners. Foamies have become legit. No longer are they at the bottom of the surf ability pyramid. Gone are the days that you’d have to explain in the lineup why you are riding your little nephews’ beginner board. Soft tops have been embraced by surfers of all abilities.

I think that any of that wouldn’t have been if it wasn’t for the revolution in high performance soft top boards. And who better to bring the street cred than the guys that arguably rip the hardest in any lineup, be it 6 foot La Gravière or a pumping Supertubos.

Here are five pro’s that have brought foam boards to the next level. See how Mick Fanning, Lee Ann Curren, Bethany Hamilton, Ben Gravy and Jamie O’Brien get their piece of the foam pie.

Mick Fanning

The quickest surfer on the planet has his own foamie brand now. In 2016 he and his business partner, Mark Mathews, founded Mick Fanning Soft Boards. The brand released 5 different models that come in a range of sizes. I got to ride and review the DHD Twin which you can read about here and the Eugenie which you can read on this page. MF also offers the Beastie, a super voluminous board that promises to be an alternative to a longboard. The Little Marley is a soft top we’d love to surf and review! This ultra wide board has a five fin setup and promises no drag. The DHD Black Diamond looks like a performance shortboard and I’m not even sure it’s a foamie! You can see prices and availability in your region here on MF’s  website. 

One of the reasons why Mick started this product venture was, in his words, to make the crowded spots safer. That one of his home breaks, the righthand pointbreak of Snapper Rocks can be crowded is an understatement. Snapper is notorious for board to board an board to human collisions. In an interview about Mick Fanning Soft Boards the founding father said that he could only imagine how much safer Snapper would be if more surfers would ride foamies.

See Mick in action on his foamies here. I hear you think “yeah but this guy is a multiple world champion he can surf a kitchen table and make it looks nice.” And you are right. FoamieCrew exists for the other 99,99% of the surfers that do not have trophies. We have some more footage of human beings surfing MF’s. There’s a neat clip of that gives you a nice viewing of the Eugenie 5`10 and the Little Marley 5`6 by Surf Faro.

The music is a bit dramatic but these Portuguese certainly know how to push the foamies to the next level. There’s some proper rail to rail surfing, a decent floater. The waves that would certainly not qualify as top notch but look oh so rippable!

Bethany Hamilton

The Hawaiian legend partnered with Channel Island Surboards to develop a soft top surfboard range. The CI Bethany Hamilton signature series consists of three models, a 5’6 fish, a 7’0 fun board and a 9’0 longboard foamie. The boards aren’t aimed at the cliff-dropping, shore break surfing adrenaline junkies. As she explains herself: “Are these the types of board I’d ride for high level, boundary pushing competitive surfing – NO. Channel Islands has an array of high performance boards to meet those needs. But are these the types of boards I bring to family beach days – absolutely!! These boards put the fun and accessibility of surfing at the forefront. These are the playful, not-so-serious, have fun boards!”

Here’s a clip of a girl riding the 7′ in a wavepool.

Ben Gravy

Although he was a professional surfer, Ben Gravy is better known for his Youtube channel. He started his surfing career on the cold US East Coast and quickly became one of the best in that region. What many people don’t know is that he actually started filming and vlogging long before he wore a jersey. Growing up with two adrenaline sports loving brothers (that went on to become stunt men) there was plenty of action to be filmed and published. Their media platform NUB Nation has reached tons of people with their funny and bold action sports content. Ben went on to start his own surf quest – more specifically to find and expose ‘novelty waves’. And the best item to bring on a novelty wave surf discovery is… a soft top!

Ben rode and tried out all kinds of foamies before launching his own model in collaboration with Catch Surf. In the near future we’ll post a review on his signature series, the Wave Bandit.

Lee Ann Curren

Lee Ann grew up on the French coast and is well known for experimenting with all kinds of board shapes. There is some beautiful footage of her shredding a twin fin. And it turns out that she doesn’t mind a little foam under her feet! I wish she’d put out more videos but it seems as if she just surfs for pure fun – not for the likes and thumbs up.

However, we did find that she’s participated in Foamfroth. There’s a pretty cool event in Landes, France. In the Foamfroth comp during the Wanderlandes Festival participants of all abilities battle tag-team style, exclusively on soft tops.

Jamie O’Brien

An obvious pick for this list. The reason why people love J.O.B. is because he doesn’t take himself too seriously. Besides his entertaining character he’s also a very apt tuberider and one of the best at Pipeline. He’s probably one of the few surfers that has earned a larger paycheck after he quit competitive surfing. If you watch his vlogs and Redbull shows you know: this guy has succeeded in life. Getting paid to have fun.

Jamie O’Brien sees foam as an essential ingredient. He single handedly got soft tops legit by getting barreled at huge pink foamies and doing step offs on shallow reef breaks. He rides Catch Surf boards. The Odysea model is omnipresent in his vlogs and lately the Catch Surf Beater is all over Youtube. Jamie has a signature series J.O.B. Catch Surf – one we’ll test and review soon.

In a recent interview Jamie said: “What’s great about soft tops? It’s taking the seriousness out of surfing putting the fun factor in full effect.” And the internet is flooded with pro guys like Kalani Robb and Blair Conkin doing crazy stuff on the Catch Surf foamies. But back to reality. Are Catch Surfs’ boards any good for your type of surfing? We’ve found a nice video of regular folks trying on the Catch Surf Beater and Odysea Log. Check it out here.

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