Just like the intricacies of surfboard design, there is far more to J-Bay’s Steven Sawyer than his 2018 WSL World Longboard Champ title. The smooth goofyfooter is a student of the sport - multitalented in all disciplines and a budding shaper (following in his dad Des’s footsteps). A champion of style both on the land and in the water, there’s not a time where you won’t be greeted by one of Stevie’s signature smiles. Fresh off his return from Australia, we sat down with one of South Africa’s most likeable surfers and quizzed him on some tips to help you up your logging game. These are his words:
Graduate from shuffling to cross-stepping
To begin with, your arms should be above your hips to activate those cat reflexes. Next, where (on the wave) you choose to walk is crucial - your board needs to be sitting stable in the face and not facing down as you would pick up too much speed or nosedive. I generally stall a bit into a section and then start walking forward as the weight of the wave is on the back of the board. So, if your whole board is out on the face you won’t be able to nose ride - the board needs to be weighted down by the breaking foam, if that makes sense. Once on the nose, keep your knees bent and keep your upper body stationary.
Get under and out there
A lot of my logs look like they are not duck-diveable but even my biggest board (a 9’8 which is about 3 1/4 thick in the middle) can go under a wave. The technique I use is similar to how a leaf falls off a tree. If you picture a leaf falling - it kind of rocks from side to side… So, if you are going to push your board under water as you would with a short board (with a flat surface down) you have a lot more surface area to get under the water, where if you tilt your board rail down you’ll be able to dig your board in.
If you cannot manage that, slide off your board and grab it near the nose, tucking it under your arm. Swim under the wave, using your body to brace against the turbulence and holding onto that board. Control is crucial here, same as when you fall, keep that under your arm… Your board should always be in control.
The final word on fin setup
Truth - there will never be a final word, fins (like board design) are down to personal preference. With a thruster setup the fins are on the rail, which means the rail is always engaged and you can kind of ride the log on the rail. This helps with forward momentum and drive, whereas a single fin on the board does not react as well on the rail, (but it can if you put it in a certain position). It’s a totally different approach, with three fins you get a response out of the rail, with the single fin you are nursing your turns and not jamming them.
I am very partial to riding a single fin, mostly because of the trim and flow - it’s like driving a hot rod instead of a sports car. Or dancing verse sprinting. It’s super fun to sprint sometimes but the real fun comes from effortlessness…
I’m currently enjoying the Good Good Vibes fin (having tested quite a few of the templates in the range), however I’ve been doing a lot of R&D with the team (which has been amazing) and we are waiting on a few of the custom-made prototypes to come back. I’m super excited to test those!
Feature photo credit: Mike Muir