The 10 Worst Style Crimes In Surfing

Every surfer is guilty of at least one of these...

Surfing is not just a sport. It’s a lifestyle, which means there are certain unwritten rules and regulations about style – both in and out of the water.

Here are ten of the worst style faux pas you can make as a waverider. Trust us, we’ve definitely fallen victim to more than one of these in our time…

1) Bad Tattoos

What makes a bad tattoo? Usually a mix of questionable judgment and a stunning lack of intelligence.

Surf themed tattoos do exist and have been pointed out to hilarious effect on Mpora before. What’s not to love about a surfing Jesus, skulls with surfboards between their teeth, surfing dinosaurs and the worst all, tattoos of actual surf logos?

I’m also always confused by parents getting their children’s names inked on their body. Surely their very existence is enough of a reminder? Celtic armbands, their time must have has passed? Postcodes? Japanese Kanji?

With tattoos, there are more questions than answers, always a problem when you are about to mark a permanent stain on your body.

If in doubt, we’d always advise to simply go for the Oxbow logo, ideally at a size that covers your whole back.

2) Spring Wetsuits

The problem with good style is that sometimes it comes at the expense of common sense. Spring suits are a case in point.

Sure, they work as the perfect midway point between boardies and steamers. They both warm the groin region and soothe the neck. However, there is something so utilitarian about the springy that makes them about as sexy as your grandmother’s haemorrhoids.

“Springs are about as sexy as your grandmother’s haemorrhoids”

In fact, they only work on the style front if you are under 9 years old. Don’t try and disguise the issue with the long sleeved version. They make even less sense.

Put it this way, Kelly Slater and Mick Fanning, tremendous surfers but lacking somewhat in the fashion sense, have won 14 world titles wearing spring suits.

Taj Burrow, one of the coolest dudes on the surfing planet, has never been seen in one. I rest my case.

3) Leashes On Land

Like deep sea isopods and Gabriel Medina, some things only work in the water. Leashes are one such utility.

No one will ever question the use of leashes in the surf, both connecting you to your surfboard and stopping the craft embedding in other people’s skulls. Problems arise however when some surfers decide to wear them on land.

Unless you are expecting a sudden tsunami on the way to the paddle out, there’s no need to attach the leash until you hit the high tide mark.

Walking down the beach, or back from a surf with a leash attached signals a lack of faculty and a lack of style. It will also often result in you going head over turkey, damaging yourself, your board and your ego in one fell swoop.

4) Surf Style

A wide stance is one of the common example put forward as being bad surf style.

A stance that looks you are about to do a poo isn’t going to help your style or your chances with the opposite sex. However, according internationally renowned surf coach Andy King, it’s not simply a case of wide stance equals bad style.

“It doesn’t come down to just width, it’s knee bend,” says King, who has coached Mick Fanning, Jordy Smith, Julian Wilson and Michel Bourez among others.

“You can watch someone surf and know straight away whether you want to share a beer with ’em…”

“Julian Wilson has wide stance, but shifts his hip and bends his knees so that he looks amazing. Other elite surfers have same width of stance, but come with bow legged squat by not shifting the hip and knee inward, it looks hideous.”

King wasn’t done with just stance though. “Also extra hand jives often means someone is fighting the tempo and flow of the wave,” he says. “It’s often too much movement on a clean classic wall and takes over from the actual surfing.”

Andy also goes one step further extrapolating that your style in the water is a direct reflection of your personality out of it. “Surf style reflects personalities and character. You can watch someone surf and know straight away whether you would want to share a beer with ’em.”

5) Fins First

Carrying your board fins first just looks unnatural. Like sex with turtles, unnatural isn’t always good.

A small percentage of the population will disagree with me, not so much about the turtles, but about the fins. They will argue that walking down the beach fins first is both normal and acceptable.

It is neither, and a sign that their style is backward and that their personality slightly skewed towards the awkward and the inelegant.

Keep the fins at the back and while we are are at, the waxed side of the board facing away from the body and you should be okay. At least until you the enter the water.

6) Unwaxed Area Between Tail Pad and Front Foot

“The Horror! The Horror!” Nope, this isn’t a reference to Heart of Darkness’ distilled narrative of the complex exploration of the barbarian versus a civilised society.

It is a reference to the shiny, horrific bald patch that misguided souls have on their boards when they don’t wax the area between the tailpad and their front foot.

It is an affront to surfing and an affront to good style. It may be preferable to scratch ‘KOOK’ into your forehead with a compass and drip permanent, salted dye into the wound.

As the narrator in Joseph Conrad’s novel says about the practice, “a taint of imbecile rapacity blew through it all, like a whiff from some corpse.”

7) GoPro Mounts

Is there anything less stylish looking than a surfboard with a GoPro mount?

I’m not sure why a little white plastic mount can turn an average-looking surfboard into shit on a stick, all I know is that it does.

“A little white plastic mount can turn an average-looking surfboard into shit on a stick”

Whether its stuck on the nose for the classic look back angle, or behind the back foot has no bearing, it still just looks… wrong.

The only time a Go Pro mount is acceptable is if it is affixed to a 11’3” quad made for 26 foot Mavericks, or a 5’6” tow board designed for the right at Chopes.

Otherwise that mount is simply bringing you, and everyone associated with you, down.

8) Fashion

I’ll handball this one over to Ollie Arnold, Esquire magazine’s fashion stylist who interrupted a shoot in LA with Ryan Gosling to provide an up-to-date trend list of bad style for 2015…

“Cartoon ties. Cartoon tees (for anyone over 16). Cartoon anything. Logo tees with swearing on. 3/4 leg trousers. Fat men in skinny jeans. Sleeveless crew neck tees. Razor back vests. Waistcoats on their own. Over ripped denim. Over dyed and or treated denim. Boot cut denim. Suits that look like you borrowed them from your fat, stupid and tall dad.

Buttoning all the buttons up on a suit jacket. Double cuffs worn open without cuff links. Exotic animal skin anything, especially boots. Ever. Full camo. Spectacles without prescription lenses.

Very pointy shoes that curl at the end – see Comme des Garçons. Anything remotely hipster, especially facial hair and braces. John Lennon style sunnies. Japanese print on tees that don’t mean anything. Wearing pyjamas as day wear (outside). Board shorts and tuxedo jackets. Cloaks.”

I agree with everything Ollie says, except the cloaks. Cloaks are cool.

9) 30 Year Old Man Dressed As A 15 Year Old Grom

As a rule, anyone over 30 should never look as if your mother had a say in the outfit you are wearing.

If you are boasting a complete ensemble that is being worn by a grommet half your age, you have to question both your style and your future.

That goes double if you are wearing an oversized baseball cap and triple if you have tucked your ears into that outsized baseball cap.

10) Kicking When Paddling

Kicking when paddling is just plain uncool. It creates splash and friction and (newsflash kickers!) it doesn’t make you paddle any faster, or catch waves any quicker.

I had a good mate who used to kick so ferociously that the lineup would be splattered with his violent kickspray every time he went for a wave.

It got to the point in a relatively crowded lineup in Nias when the embarrassment and irritation proved too much. I had to end our friendship. He is now dead to me.

You might also like:

Is This The Worst Advert Ever? Supermodel Gisele Bündchen Goes Surfing With Chanel

Is It Ever OK To Pee In Your Wetsuit? A To Z Of Surfing Etiquette

Newsletter Terms & Conditions

Please enter your email so we can keep you updated with news, features and the latest offers. If you are not interested you can unsubscribe at any time. We will never sell your data and you'll only get messages from us and our partners whose products and services we think you'll enjoy.

Read our full Privacy Policy as well as Terms & Conditions.