Monday Mailbag: Your Questions Answered

Have you ever had to help a swimmer or another surfer get in? What is the best way to do it so we both don’t drown?
Kevin Nelson
Brandon, FL

Yes, several times. I once even rescued a dog that swam out to the kelp beds. Anyway, the easiest way to help someone is to give them your board and send them straight in (that’s assuming you can swim in with no surfboard). Your last resort should be a “cross chest carry” where you drag the person in while swimming with one hand however the most important part of any rescue is not to become a victim yourself.

After shopping at my local surf shop I’ve noticed that 75% of the boardshort offerings were made with stretch, or some type of technical flex fabric. Does the stretch really help improve your performance? Or is it all a marketing gimmick? It seems like the pros in the past surfed just fine in the rigid fabrics boardshorts used to offer. Is one brands stretch better than the others?
Thanks for the insight!
Luggy Ludwig
Huntington Beach, CA

Stretch is definitely one of the most hyped up (some would say “overhyped”) features in boardshorts today. What stretch is useful for is when your trunks get caught around your knees, yet, due to the stretch, you’re still able to bend your leg. That said, the stretchiest pair of trunks in the world aren’t gonna help you catch better waves.

I’ve been surfing for a couple years and cannot figure out tides. I have had good and shitty days when it’s low, high, and everywhere in between (going out or coming in). I’m sure each spot is different, but is there a general rule to go by?
Jimmy Jensick

A very general rule to go by is this: most beachbreaks suck at dead low tide and most reef breaks like a lower tide. Everywhere is different though, keep checking your local spot and note what tide it’s best on.

Hey TransWorld SURF! I’ve noticed a lot of people choosing Future fins over FCS. Some people say they’re better and some people say they are worse? What is the big difference between FCS fins and Future fins?
Eric Auth

The main difference is how they’re mounted to the board, FCS has two screws on the side of the fin while Future Fins have a single screw in the back. Both companies make great fins; it’s up to you to decide which one works best for your needs.

Most surfers would credit skateboarding for bringing airs to the water. And if they know the roots of the air on a skateboard, they probably know Alan “Ollie” Gelfand as being credited for introducing his nickname to the skateboarding world and Tony Alva as being credited for doing the first legitimate airs on a skateboard. But with airs being such a huge part of surfing nowadays, I was trying to think of who was credited for doing the first legitimate, functional airs on a surfboard. And although some names (Pottz, Fletcher, and Archy) came to mind, I didn’t know the answer. I was hoping maybe you guys could tell us all who to thank?
Outer Banks, NC

Great question! The first person that comes to mind is Davey Smith from the Santa Barbara area—he was busting airs at Emma Wood in the early 80s. Santa Cruz’s Kevin Reed, however, got the cover of Surfing Magazine doing an air (that looked a lot like a flyaway) in 1975. For my money, Martin Potter was the first guy to do proper airs on a consistent basis.

Rumors have gone around about the various activities that can improve your surf. From Indo boards, to skateboarding, even snowboarding, they all seem to help. What can improve your skills the most?
Kevin O’Brien
San Diego, California

It’s been said a million times, “The best training for surfing is surfing itself.” Now get out there! Send your burning questions to

Pages: 1 2