Imminent collapse of global economies creates golden market for surfboard collectors, “The flotillas of big-name machine shapes purchased in frenzy during the height of the boom are now being jettisoned as the proles look to tighten their belts and ride the bust!”

There’s never been more surfers, sure. But there’s also never been more surfboards. Stretching as far as the landfill can see.

Am I the only one who finds the notion of a recession romantic?

Everyone back to square one. On equal footing. Starting from scratch.

Legions of once-pencil necked corporate types suddenly freed of their neoliberal masters. Lounging around all day, eating salted pork and sauteed bike tyres. Repairing old jalopies between mid-morning surfs and afternoon moonshine benders.

Kids running amongst golden fields of grass, dirt-faced but happy, patched-up overalls hanging languidly from their sun-kissed shoulders.

While all those fat-cat speculators and entrepreneurs sit weeping in their abandoned co-operative work spaces, the “elaborate” and “innovative’” business models that served to only further exploit the working class finally laying in ruin.

The culture that exalted home ownership as a model for accumulation of capital. Bunnings and Home Depot our new cathedrals for weekend worship. Casualised workforces. Laissez-faire economics.

The LinkedIn cult of the corporate. “Bring more of yourself to work” so work can bring more of itself to you.

All collapsing in on itself like a cursed dwarf star.

Sure, I jest. I know there’s clear links between economic downturns and rates of suicide, family breakdown, crime, drug use etc

And it’s usually the working class man that feels the pinch the most.

But the socialist in me does want to see this smoke and mirrors capitalist shitshow we’ve laboured under for the last fifty years falter just a little more.

Even a slight touch on the breaks of unlimited economic growth. Maybe take into consideration factors other than just GDP when looking at a nation’s wealth. Push a few of us back into the warm, egalitarian embrace of market regulation and big government.

Economic rationalism isn’t, as they say.

At the very least, the threat of recession makes a great market for secondhand surfboards. Jeez there’s been some steals of late.

There’s never been more surfers, sure. But there’s also never been more surfboards. Stretching as far as the landfill can see.

The flotillas of big-name machine shapes purchased in frenzy during the height of the boom are now being jettisoned as the proles look to tighten their belts and ride the bust.

The result? It’s a buyer’s market, just like that greasy real estate agent will tell you.

There’s almost no argument now for buying new boards. Check out your Gumtrees, Craigs Lists, FB marketplaces near even the mildest concentrations of surf populations and there’s a plethora of deals to be had.

Unless you’re spending good money to buy a handshape from a guru, you gotta go secondhand. It’s an ethical as well as economic imperative.

Me, I’ve long been a fan of used goods. But the pendulum has swung so far now in my favour that even I can’t believe some of the scores that present themselves. Especially for those underground gems that might not attract the SEO hits of a JS, a Hayden, a Sharpeye.

Here’s just a couple from the last few months.

Peter McCabe x Pacific Dreams 6’8 x 20 x 2 ⅝: $20

Yep you read right. A handshape from master craftsman Peter McCabe for $20. Shaped under the Pacific Dreams logo, Grubby being one of the many shapers to churn out boards for the iconic Newcastle brand over the years.

Some minor damage and dirtiness, the ad said. But otherwise good to go.

The twenty-dollar tube-throttling McCabe.

What’s crazier is the asking price on FB marketplace was even lower than what I ended up paying for it. I saw it pop up on a weekend scroll for $10.

Ten buckeroos. About the same as a pie and Coke at the servo. A few litres of diesel. One schooner at a fancy inner city bar, if you’re lucky.

I assume it must be a typo. Send a DM.

Hey, definitely interested in the McCabe. So it’s $10?

A quick response. Yes it is. Somebody else has already put a hold on it though.

I’ll give you $20.

Done. It’s yours.

Pick it up the next day. A younger girl living behind a commission flat out the back of town. Dogs barking in the driveway. Early model Holden Commodore rusting out front.

She’s immediately apologetic, like I’m doing her a favour.

“Thank you so much for taking it. I’m so sorry it’s dirty,” she says, pointing to the thin layer of grime on the deck. “It’s just been lying around here forever, and well, I needed the cash.”

“That is no problem at all,” I say as I slide it into the boot. “The pleasure is all mine.”

A quick clean up with some turps and a wax comb. Your usual compressions. The only real damage is a thumbnail sized hole in the bottom of the deck. In keeping with the aesthetic I plug it up with the old wax I accumulated from stripping it.

It’s a pulled-in square tail. Wide point forward. Subtle mass of foam under the chest but the rails are foiled nicely. Deep double concave out through the tail. Set of as-new Shapers fins (FCS1) with it.

Some weird spray paint art on the front which adds to the overall vibe.

Can feel the life force still inside it under the arm.

First surf down at Manly on one of those wicked SE mega swells we’ve had here of late. Four-to-five-foot with a few bigger ones. Some absolute drainpipes when they’re hitting the bank right.

It’s a board that tells you how it wants to be ridden from the get go. A few missteps when I try to pivot too much on the tail. Almost like a rounded pin masquerading as a square.

But quickly get a good feel. And it can find a tube. Almost feels like it’s on autopilot when you slide up and under the lip.

Next couple of surfs on a three-foot inside rip bowl back out the front. Not as responsive a turner as your modern day performance thruster but jeez it’s got some drive. Loves being put on rail. Can’t wait to get it on some of the local reef breaks once we get a run of clean swell.

What else would you expect from a McCabe?

I think about that girl. Going to all the effort of putting the board up and dealing with degenerates like me for a measly $10.

Or twenty in the end.


Mark Rabbidge rail channel fish 6’4 x 21 x 2 ½: $50

Another one where I had to double take at the price. We all know Mark Rabbidge as the shaper responsible for Tom Curren’s first go at J-Bay, widely regarded as one of the finest waves ever surfed.

Mark’s been at the forefront of board design for decades now.

So to see one of his shapes up in relatively ok nick for such a price was nuts.

It wasn’t advertised as a Mark Rabbidge, mind you. Just “old fish” or something similarly nondescript.

Turns out the guy selling lives only two hundred yards down the road from me. I’ve seen him in the water before and am confident he didn’t understand the gravity of the design he was holding under his arm.

Deep rail channels, you might even call them edges, run through the middle third of the board. They’re not belly channels. But they’re also not like a traditional Greenough edge which follows the curve of the rail.

The Rabbidge, total price fifty bucks.

The outline itself is like one of those big boy Aipa stingers. Fuller again through the nose. Plus it’s got one of them flame sprays. Ya can’t go wrong.

I messaged Mark about the board on Instagram. He remembers it, fondly.

“I see some shapers doing different styles of channels now but no one does them straight like that. I have made keel versions, four fins, twins – they all work. I started doing them back in the early ‘90s as handles for a surfer doing the Quik air shows and they helped with breakage as well – they put more strength in the rails. When he surfed it he said it pumped up speed so fast. I made them for some other team guys and they all said the same. Works best in short, wide planeshapes, I think it cancels out the bottom and plane shape curves.”

To be honest, me surfing and reviewing this board feels a little like somebody using a Stradivarius to hammer nails. A gross misuse of craftsmanship.

I’m also riding it as a thruster when I really feel like it should be a twin with trailer. But who the fuck still has FCS 1 twins nowadays?

Damn thing hooks regardless. To me it feels similar to a standard channel bottom – incredible on a clean face, but doesnt like the soup. The drive it maintains through turns is outrageous.

But it can also randomly buck you off without a moment’s notice, punishing any minor misstep or re-weighting through a turn, of which I’m responsible for plenty.

Here’s the limerick that runs through my head everytime I surf it.

There was a young man who said, damn!
I perceive with regret that I am
A creature that moves
In determinate grooves
I’m not even a bus, I’m a tram

Still but. $50!

Did I tell you it was $50?

It’s a buyer’s market, I’m telling ya.

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