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Wax On Wax Off

by Tommy Barrels on June 6, 2017

surf wax

It’s a good feeling waxing up a new board. It’s just one of the best feelings we get as surfers, and honestly between getting new boards, barrels, perfect waves and no crowds, waxing up that new board sits amongst them. But still it’s an interesting science how wax on a board works. Sure you have all the pretty colours each block of wax comes packaged in, however it’s how the stuff works is what makes it interesting. Top coats, bottom coats, dream cream etc, they all have a purpose. Hey, all the bro’s at your local surf shop will tell you this and that about the stuff, which is perfectly fine. They’re surrounded by it everyday.. and so too are we. Which is why we thought we’d pass on some basic words of wisdom, to get a little more clued up on the right stuff for your next trip. From soft,hard and firm to sticky and stable, here’s our guide to making sure you have the right wax for your next surf or tropical island boat trip.

Soft and Sticky

Sticky wax, more or less, applies primarily to colder conditions. The softer the wax and stickier it is, the better in the cold it works. It does have its pro’s and cons so its purpose is still worthy. Whilst it’s stickier and easier to apply to your board, don’t be surprised if the pressure points where your chest lies or front foot is planted rub the wax away or feels squishy. It’s ok if it does this because hey your a nut job surfing really cold water. Good on you good sir for braving the frigid temperatures and being the definition of committed surfer. Some old guys I’ve seen in the car park at snapper like to use cold water waxes to firmly plant their hoof to their board and not be flung off when committing to that bomb out on the shoulder.

Firm and Hard

Firm and hard waxes, are a lot more stable and better suited for most conditions if the maximum wetsuit thickness you use is a 3/2mm. Again this type of wax has its pros and cons too. Harder waxes are going to be less sticky, which is needed as the water temperatures soften the wax slightly, helping to bond your foot and the board better. Otherwise you’ll do a barry crocker on that turn and slide off the back. Harder waxes are also somewhat more difficult to apply at first on a fresh board. But once that work out is over, it’s smooth sailing here out. The one good thing is that harder waxes generally stay in place and wont rub off or move around as easily as soft waxes. Just don’t use hard waxes in cold water conditions as it will flake off. And all that time you spent applying the perfect criss-cross pattern will be all but gone.

Single Coat vs Double Coat

Honestly this one is as comparable to coriander as it gets. You either like it or don’t, and by that I mean some crew like a single coat, others like a double coat. A single coat refers to using just one formula of wax repeatedly until it gives you the stickiness and stability you desire. If it suits you, why fix it if it’s not broken right? Double coat refers to a combination of wax formulas to achieve the adequate stickiness you want. A harder basecoat lasts over time, providing a surface that can bond and hold to the topcoat which makes it harder to rub away on those pressure points. Once that’s all good and kosher, apply your topcoat wax. Your top coat should be much softer than your basecoat which can be any formula of wax softer than what you’ve used on the base. There’s no golden rule to what works best, it comes down to personal preference. So what’s the best for me?

That all depends on where your surfing. If it’s colder places like Tassie then more than likely a double coat will be the best thing for you or a single layer of gold dream cream. For the warm water dwellers a single coat is pretty much bang on. For those “freezing cold” winter days on the Gold Coast, a top coat from the bronze cream should work for the charger you are. If your travelling or the temps are starting to change soon, you could possibly apply a tough basecoat for the warmer conditions that you’ll encounter but soft enough for the cooler waters.

Finally we have to have an honourable mention of the soap layer. This one goes out to all those in desperate times when you’ve run out of wax. Surprisingly, a layer of soap bonds incredibly well with a top coat of wax and it makes for a smooth and stable grip. Perfect for those bigger days when you don’t want to get caught out of place, or need the grip on those critical and steep take offs. Honestly if you believe that, go try it. Just not a big day. Now if your on a road trip with the boys and someone passes out early, yeah why not, lets see how much fun can be had and soap up his board. Just don’t tell them.

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