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Tools of the Trade

Just like the unpredictability of the ocean, a seasoned waterman or waterwoman must adapt his/her equipment to the conditions at hand. From fishing equipment to surfboard design the well rounded waterman will not only know what is the right tool for the job, but how to make the most of what is available. Selecting the correct equipment for the conditions is not a skill that can be learned in books. There is no “Watermen for Dummies” guide to all things watermen, but rather an insight that encompasses years of experimenting with different tools in every condition. True watermen will know what equipment will maximize his/her performance in all varieties of ocean conditions. The later implies that the waterman or waterwoman has an infinite supply of different equipment, like the most elite professional surfers have for the world tour. However, this is almost never the case. Watermen are a humble breed and don’t go out buying the top of the line equipment with the belief that it will make them dive deeper, surf better, swim faster, spear more fish ect. The notion that money and fancy equipment will make you a better waterman is preposterous and is better left for the billions of people who will never achieve waterman status. True watermen are able to adapt his/her skills to both the conditions, and equipment on hand. The greatest watermen to ever swim in the worlds oceans did not become masters of their field by riding the equipment given to them by corporate sponsorships, instead they used what they where given to the best of their abilities. Consider the Polynesians, they are considered the greatest navigators of known history, and all they had were the stars, hand made vessels, and the knowledge passed down by their forefathers over the centuries. A waterman is not defined by his/her equipment, but rather his or her ability to use any tool of the lifestyle and achieve personal satisfaction. It’s like the old saying goes, “The best man in the water is the one having the most fun”.

The following is a general list of “tools” that watermen have invented in the name of all things water.

Surfboard

How does one even begin to summarize the evolution of the modern surfboard? Today it seems that surfboards have been made in almost every size, shape, and material imaginable. Surfers have debated for generations on what surfboard dimensions are the best in any given conditions, but when the wax melts away its only a matter of opinion backed with personal experiences. Is it necessary for some to have a quiver of dozens of boards? Maybe...maybe not. There are surfers who have found a “magic board” and will ride the poor thing until every last fiber of life is sucked from the yellowing foam. Its fair to say that surfing’s popularity would be a fraction of what it is today if it where not for the great minds that push for innovation in surfboard design. Shapers are artists by every definition each like an individual jelly bean inside a massive box with an endless variety of flavors. They adapt to their surroundings, skills, clients, and even modern computer shaping technology. For example, a board shaped for mushy waves in California generally will not perform as-well-as a board similar in volume shaped for the hollow, fast waves of Hawaii. The great variety in board design allows shapers, and surfers to narrow down the perfect dimensions for just one surf break. Sure, boards have changed tremendously over the years, but look at the maneuvers kids are pulling now. Has the art of shaping by hand been outsourced to expensive machines? Maybe...maybe not it depends on one’s own preferences, but regardless of what side of the fence your on it is had to ignore the fact that computers are able to fine tune boards in ways traditional methods cannot rival.

More to come stay tuned...