New Board Designs
Beating the Blackball Easier Than You Think
Summer is here and that means crowds, families, tourists and the dreaded blackball. If you live somewhere that posts the blackball, then you know how frustrating it is to get kicked out of your local surfing spot during the day. Fortunately there are some companies making new surfboard designs to let you beat the blackball. Here are some tips on how to choose a good blackball beater board.
Why The Blackball?
The blackball is there for everyone's protection. In the summer there are more bodies at the beach make the local life guards’ task of maintaining water safety all the more difficult. The blackball flag is yellow with a black dot and usually waves from a lifeguard tower. When the blackball is up it means hard surfboards are not permitted in the surrounding area. Essentially, this prohibits surfers from taking to the water with the masses, that is... unless they have a blackball beater surfboard.
According to the website for Newport Beach, California, surfing is prohibited when the beach crowd reaches certain levels. If the number of people reaches 100 between the lifeguard towers, or if there are at least 25 people in the water between towers, or if a conflict arises between surfers and swimmers, then the lifeguards will blackball the area, limiting it to swimmers and soft boards only.
What Is A Blackball Beater Board?
Although this is a harsh reality to surfers hoping to enjoy the Summer months in the sun without a wetsuit, there is a solution. Find yourself a blackball beater board. Sounds good, you might say, but what am I looking for and where do I find it? A blackball beater board will come with a soft, almost sponge-like top and either a hard slick bottom or fiberglass bottom. They will also come with soft fins, like some bodyboards, or have a design that will allow you to surf without any fins at all. The end result is hours of fun in the sun surfing your new swimmer friendly equipment.
Two such boards are made by Catch Surf and INT surfboards, the One and the appropriately named Blackball Beater, respectively. Catch Surf advertises the sub five-foot One as a three in one board: skimboard, bodyboard, and a fins-free surfboard. It features a soft top and a harder, more durable bottom skin. These boards come with Catch Surf’s Afterburner Rear Rails, originally developed to hold a line without the use of fins. Catch Surf accomplishes this by implementing rails with sharp bottom and top edges. It’s these Afterburner rails that enhance speed and turning response by allowing water to exit out the back of the board without drag.
INT’s Blackball Beater also boasts many of the performance capabilities of our beloved glassed boards in a softboard package. According to SuferMag.com, the company’s focus on performance has resulted in hand-shaped rails, added stiffness due to fiberglass stringers, and a progressive tail design. While you can purchase the original BlackBall Beater with a hard slick bottom, a new development offers hard, fiberglass bottoms with the soft deck. This allowed INT to glass Future Fin boxes into the boards and reach a level of performance truly unique to the softboard market.
It is clear that INT and Catch Surf are looking out for the frustrated surfer in all of us. While it’s necessary to be mindful our fellow watermen, whether they are bodyboarders, body surfers, or just plain swimmers it doesn’t mean we have to sacrifice fun in the name of safety. Summer arrives each year right on schedule and so buying a blackball beater surfboard is a great addition to a quiver.