The Much Maligned Thruster

The session before-last that I had (when I wore the earplugs) was a fun one: head high sets and sharing the waves with a friend - Rob - who's a better surfer than me and a goofy foot. It's great going out with someone who prefers going left because we tend to split the peak or go for different waves. I was on my 5'10 Gulf Stream Speed Dialler and Rob was on a 6'3 Billabong Squash-Tail Thruster. He asked to have a go on my fish. Yeah, sure and we swapped out back with me fully expecting a twenty minute sit-and-watch.

Sitting on his tiny little shortboard was bizarre. It made my little fish seem enormous! I tried a duck-dive and 'woah!' it sank nicely. I sat on it and waited for a likely wave; curiously deep in the water. And you know what, I caught the second one I went for: I popped-up, flew down the face, all sketchy wobbles and fell off. "Koooook!"

Then I dropped into a head high wave nicely, made the 'survival turn' and rode it awhile. The thruster was exciting! Really twitchy-turny compared with my fish but super-lively like a hyperactive kid. This was tricky but exciting and fun. I didn't want to give it back. In the end I was glad to get back on the fish and it felt super-glidey and easy afterwards. Trying different boards is clearly very, very useful to surfy understanding and refreshing your feel of your own slidin' sticks.

All I've heard since I've started surfing is people saying how boring thrusters are and it had caused me to unjustifiably jump on the bandwagon. (My only thoughts have been of Lis descendent-fish, Simmonsy shapes and so on.) It's obviously a fashion, but also fairly so: amongst ageing and seasoned surfers who are sincerely bored of surfing the same-old, same-old and/or know the kind of surfing they are after. But that little thruster experience really excited me and lit up a little blind-spot I've been harbouring. It felt like the least board I've had under my feet and it really had some bite and a liveliness that was different. For me that felt like experiencing thruster surfing for the first time as the small size gave it such a different feeling than my 7'0.

We obviously mustn't forget the excitement that the introduction of the thruster generated and why. They may be boring if that's what you've been surfing for twenty years but for me they taste good! For me that session was the introduction of the thruster. A little step back in surfing-time.


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