My revenge-match on surfing in Senegal was complete with great waves and only one tiny urchin thorn in my foot this time :-) What also made me really happy about was the fact that most of the local surfers with whom I surfed here in December 2011 were still here after two years. It was great to see them and I was once again impressed by the standard of local Senegalese surfers (what I mean by "local" is to exclude those grumpy French ex-pats.) Many local surfers here are quite stylish and they surf differently from how those African guys surf in South Africa.

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I also felt very fortunate to having a choice in surfboards this time, which made my surfing a little more versatile than before and got me out of the ordinary.
The photo below shows all the boards that I rode during my time in Senegal.

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A little summary of each one of the boards goes below:
(Note: those who are considering to purchase Firewire boards should have a read on the third paragraph.)

1) 6'6 (?) Minami TufLite (Tail: Squash & Thruster)

For the first two years of my RTW trip I surfed an Al Merrick 6'1 TufLite. I liked it because it was almost indestructible and very light. It was super easy for me to travel with it. However, I also disliked it at times because it was too light and easily be blown away on windy days. Furthermore, there was no flexibility - that's why it's called TufLite, right? I eventually gave it away to a local boy in J-Bay in June 2012.
Now I had a chance to surf another TufLite for 8ft+ N'Gor Right (See the previous article for more details.) And Umm.... No complain about it as I just borrowed it from Jesper and I managed to catch a couple of big waves on that day. Nonetheless, I only wish that the tail of the board had been round-pin or pin and that it had been a little heavier to help me punch through those bumpy waves.

2) 6'2 Bitch (Tail: Squash & Thruster)

A bit disgraceful name as a brand.... It was shaped by a South African. I borrowed it from Jesper who told me that the board could be a bit loose when turning on rail.
I actually rode this 6'2 more than any other quivers while in Senegal and I quite liked it. The board was never too loose for me when making a turn or a cutback and it had an extra thick stringer for additional strength, yet it was not heavy at all. This Bitch board actually made me think about going back to a conventional PU board after riding so many epoxy / EPS boards for the past few years.

3) 5'8 Firewire V4 (Tail: Double diamond & Quad)

It's a great shape, especially the tail which bites into waves so well while I am still able to maintain speed on turns. However, the durability of this Rapidfire-tech board is highly doubtful as it has already been broken twice: I once creased the bottom-deck on a 4ft wave at Supertubes in J-Bay last October (it was less than a month after my purchase), and I creased it again - a different part of the deck from the first one - on a 3ft wave at Quakam in Dakar on Boxing Day last year. Now I only have the below to say to Firewire's corporate geeks:
All major manufactures of electronics, cars, etc immediately announce a recall when they discover a design flaw in their products. I spent about ZAR5,500 on my V4 and it didn't even last for half a year! I'm now wondering if a very similar problem has occurred to other V4 and Vanguard riders. If so, there is definitely a problem with this product and I'd like to get a refund. Otherwise, will you send me another V4 made in FST not in Rapidfire? This V4 with no stringer and no balsa-rail is ridiculously fragile.
Seriously! 99% of surfers all around the world are not pros, we PAY a lot for our quivers and most of us don't have a wide range of boards to match the wave-size and conditions of each spot we surf. It's really time for Firewire to raise the quality as well as the durability not the quantity.

4) 5'9 Hollow-wood Egg (Tail: Round-pin & Single-fin)

It was built and shaped by me! And the glassing was done by Patrick. It's my "own" board and it's more environmentally sound than any other boards which are commercially available today. Moreover, it feels completely different from any other boards I've ridden before.
Objectively speaking, however, this Egg can hardly be a performance-board. It's rather a pocket-riding cruiser than making a deep bottom-turn and a hack on the lip. One downside of this wooden board is that it is quite chunky and heavy, especially the nose part. It floats so well and it's so easy for me to catch and take off on up to 5ft waves, but it tends to generate so much speed when going down the line due mostly to the heavy nose. I sometimes find it almost impossible to get the rail into the face of a wave.
Well, this board has a single-fin on and I'm still getting used to it. I should also try twin-fins on it sometime soon.

Overall, trying different boards is so much fun and it's very interesting to see how my style could change depending on the board I ride. I used to be stuck with one or two particular shapes and particular brands, but not anymore. As there are so many different spots to be surfed on this planet, there are million different boards to be ridden.


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