Apr 11

Controversy – Surfboard Prices

“Oh the price of surfboards are just so expensive.”

I am amazed how many, of even my own friends, utter this statement.

It is time to get some perspective.

words dave swan

So, surfboards are expensive ehh? Yeah, it is a decent chunk of money to outlay for a quality shortboard or longboard – $1-2K thereabouts. But let’s compare it to a few other sports and other life essentials and then compare and consider the amount of time it takes to make a surfboard.

On average a hand shaped surfboard takes the better part of a week or more in terms of actual labour hours. That allows for shaping, laminating, filler coat, sanding, glassing and polishing/ finishing. In scheduling that work and allowing for the necessary drying/ curing time the whole process will take closer to 3 weeks. How much do you earn for a few weeks work? Also, remember not to just to evaluate something on the time it takes to craft something but rather the times it takes to acquire a skill to build it in that time frame. A skilled tradesman could construct an outdoor deck for me in a couple of days but it would take me several months to complete the same because I do not possess the skill they do, that has been honed over many, many years working with timber.

Then let’s consider the longevity of surfboards. I am fortunate to have acquired quite a few through the years and thankfully because I value well-crafted Australian/ New Zealand made surfboards, they have lasted and lasted. As I look around my boardroom I take in the surfboards – 19 years, 6 years, 10 years, 12 years, 8 years, 11 years, 3 years… and so it goes on. The average age of my surfboards is easily 10+ years. Now if I go to the higher end of the price scale and value the board at $2000, that equates to $200 a year for 10 years of fun. And believe me, I regularly ride all my boards, or at least my kids do.

Now let’s say you or your kids play football. For a decent set of boots you’re up for $200 a season. Yes, you can buy cheaper but in the long run that will even up with trips to the physiotherapist and/ or podiatrist as a result of wearing cheap boots – been there, done that. And that $200 for your boots is before you have bought any other gear, strapping, pads etc and well before you have paid your yearly sign-on fee that can range anywhere from $200 to $2000+ dollars depending on what code and level you play.

On average a footy season is going to probably cost you at least close to a grand once you add up all the bits and pieces – equivalent to the cost of a quality shortboard. If you play 22-23 rounds and maybe finals, taking into consideration training, you will probably wear your boots 100- 120 times. If you only surf weekends and occasionally a run of days on holidays, you may rack up 100 surfs on your board in a year or two, and a quality surfboard will easily last you that long. And yes, you may snap or damage the board, or find out it is not what you were after, which sucks, but that also happens with football boots. Some even fall apart after half a season – even the expensive ones! And no, sports stores don’t allow you to go play in those boots for a couple of games just as a shaper won’t make you a board to surf a few times and return it. However, some shapers do have ride and trial days, or demos to test. And as always it pays to do your research in what is right for you – surfboards and football boots the same.

How about golf? There’s a popular sport. The most basic club set and bag will set you back at least $600-700 and if you play like me you might as well easily add $50-100 of golf balls each year. Now all of this is before you have even paid green fees – that’s anywhere from at least $30-$60+ every time you play. So, you have easily cleared a grand in one year and that’s before you have forked out anywhere from $200-$2000 for that special wood. And if you wish to become a member of your local club you’re up for more cash again. Interestingly too, some days I will hit the ball superbly and others I am like Happy Gilmore but I know it is me not necessarily the clubs. The same goes for surfboards. It is too easy to think a board is sh*t when in reality, some days you surf well and others you don’t. Some days you ride the wrong board for the conditions just like trying to use a putter to drive off a par 5.

What else? If you like cycling (heaven forbid), a road bike is going to set you back close to $1000 and that is before you commit yourself to covering your body in spandex and shaving your legs. Hell, some people are even spending as much on a bike as you would a small car. Mountain bikes are the same again and that’s before you pay for all the corrective surgery from the serious injuries many often inflict upon themselves.

If you swim at your local pool, thanks to our government ineptitude and ridiculous insurance premiums, you’re up for around $6 for adults and $5 for kids. A yearly pass will set you back close to $900 and do you also want googles, fins, pull buoy. There’s a grand!

Sports aside, think of the cost of other things nowadays. If you had a skilled tradesman come out to your house for the better part of a week or two, I think you would be amazed to escape with an invoice for under a couple of grand – and that is excluding materials!

So Smorgasboarders, please respect and appreciate the innate skills our surfboard shapers possess and pay them what is only fitting for their craft and the enjoyment they ultimately bring to our lives through surfing.