When I heard the news about the COVID-19 lockdown in New Zealand and the reality of not being able to go surfing hit, well all I can say is that there was a definite grieving process happening at my house. I’ve been pregnant twice and suffered a pretty traumatic skating injury which had me out of the water for a couple of years so I knew I could cope, but it still SUCKED!! Cue the triumphant music aaaaannnnnd, my wonderful ‘Johanne Defay’ model Smoothstar skateboard rolled out of the garage to save my surfing sanity.
If you haven’t heard of surf trainer skateboards, there are a couple on the market, but I can’t go past the Smoothstar. Basically it has a special front truck which pivots and dips, unlike a normal skateboard where the trucks are fixed. The “Thruster” truck makes the front of the board loose so the board can turn and drive off the back trucks – the same as you would with surfboard rails and fins… the feel is “rail-to-rail” surfing on land.
It’s pretty hard to properly describe how it works and feels, but I can tell you that once I figured it out, it felt so close to surfing that I was actually shocked! Full disclosure, I work as a surf coach with the guy who distributes the Smoothstars in New Zealand, but because of a bad skating injury (with a dumb normal skateboard which I will never bother with again! haha!) I hadn’t skated on them until October last year (2019).
Once I could jump on without freaking out about hurting my foot again, I sorted out the basic rail to rail drive action which generates speed. Then I started mucking around with my compression-extension, arm placement and head positioning, getting tighter and tighter turns almost immediately.
It was so helpful being able to try a turn over and over again, tweaking little movements and noticing the difference without the extra mission of having to paddle around and search for waves. I also find that sometimes if I spend my surf just working on a turn, I don’t have as much fun, or I get worried about falling and wasting the wave so I don’t try as hard. Having this land based training means you can bypass that, which works great for me! (little kids, work, mountains of washing… where does it all come from?? All this means that the stars need to literally align in some kind of super Aquarius-Pisces-Venus-moon-in-the-8th-quarter-of-Virgo type scenario before I can go for a surf).
I had this crazy lightbulb moment one day after a long flat spell. I’d been going on the Smoothstar nearly daily and I went for a surf on one of the 7 ft foamies that we have for work, just to muck around. Next minute- I took off, did a set up pump that felt really good, everything just lined up; I leaned in and down and did the best, deepest bottom turn I have ever done! On an old foamie! I fully surprised myself, I hadn’t even really been thinking about it, but the muscle memory from the week of Smoothstarring kicked in and it felt so great. Since then I’ve been hooked and I would recommend this board to anyone at any level of ability.
So I guess what I’m getting at here is: – if you have space and time to muck around on some smooth concrete on a semi-regular basis – if you are looking to fine tune your technique – if you feel like you have plateaued in your progression – if the surf in your area is inconsistent – or if you find yourself in some alternate universe where a virus named after a beer is wreaking havoc on the entire planet and you’ve been asked to stay in your own home and out of the water for what feels like 208 weeks and you have little kids and your brain feels like it might explode, but not before your waistline does…. you should definitely consider getting a Smoothstar.
You can order them online, or check out your nearest stockists by going to https://smoothstar.co.nz/ or call my mate Simon on 021 227 0072
These pics were taken by my 9 year old while we were in Level 4 Lockdown. You can see the backhand bottom turn, going up to a backhand off the lip snap. You can’t tell in the pic, but the tail did an awesome slide out at the end. I acknowledge that I should have been wearing a helmet…do as I say, not as I do ok kids?