There can be a lot of pressure in surfing. Pressure on yourself to perform well. Pressure on yourself to not worry about performing well and just have fun. Water pressure on a deep hold down. But does anyone ask about what kind of pressure our boards are under.
Pressure dings can affect surfboards in both good and bad ways. A lot of people like the small pressure ding that your front foot can cause from going in the same spot every time you pop up as it makes the board feel broken in. On the contrary, if a pressure ding is on the rail/bottom it can minutely affect performance.
Surfboards can be more fragile than they look. A bump here, a dent there but at what point should you stop and fix your board. Will pressure dings greatly affect your performance? Some dings you can surf with and some you can’t. It’s good to regularly have a once over with your board to make sure things are in tip-top shape.
How Pressure Dings can Affect a Surfboard
You can think of a pressure ding more like a dent. It hasn’t cracked the fiberglass but there is an indentation. For the most part they are still watertight so you don’t have to worry about your foam core becoming waterlogged. They will look normally like circles or ovals that are lower than that rest of the board. Like a shallow crater or empty lake. If there are many on one board it gives it a lumpy look.
Many things can cause pressure dings. Our feet being a main culprit. Probably the most common pressure ding on a shortboard is the one caused by our front foot.
Your front foot will cause a foot shape indentation from repeatedly standing in the same place. Lots of people like the feeling of this comfy foot spot that forms.
Professional surfer Taj Burrow even had Firewire make this foot mold when he switched over to the stronger less pressure ding vulnerable epoxy surfboards because he became so accustomed to it.
Factors that affect the frequency you acquire dings
- What type of surf you’re riding in / how big it is / what type of break
- How thick your glass job is (like how thick the fiberglass on your board is, some boards, are lighter and have thinner glass jobs while others boards are heavy and have a thicker stronger fiberglass layer)
- If your board is epoxy or fiberglass.
Pressure dings can also come just from the uncertainty of life. Things like moving your board in and out of the car and accidentally bumping it on the door. You can get them on the bottom of your board from a number of things. Accidents in and out the water.
It’s common to wipe out and maybe an elbow or knee or yes, even a head will land on the bottom causing a pressure ding.
But how will all this affect your board and or performance? Well first off it will have an aesthetic effect. If you take a look at any older board you’ll probably notice a number of pressure dings. Some people don’t mind this, whereas some always want a newer, nicer looking board, personally, I think a few dings add character.
Like we talked about above it can make your board feel broken in, which is good. Like an old baseball glove, you want your board to feel nice and cozy and ready to ride. Some people like this and some people don’t, it’s personal preference.
A Lot of people don’t take any action for pressure dings. That being said, severe ones on the rails or bottom of the board can cause some performance issues.
It’s hard to say how noticeable pressure dings on the bottom of your board will affect your riding, but there is an argument to be had, that anything that affects how aerodynamic (water dynamic?) your board is, can hinder your speed.
So performance-wise do pressure dings make a big difference? I would say not much. It would be hard to call out the bumpy boi in a blind board test that’s for sure. They do probably affect your speed to a minute degree but nothing that’s going to make you feel any slower than normal.
Types of Surfboard Dings
Well as you’ve probably guessed pressure dings are one type of ding. There are many other types of dings as well. From your classic cracks and holes to buckling and fin box blowouts. we’ll go over a few now.
Dents or indentations caused by… drum roll please… what could it be? Pressure. It’s pressure. They are caused by pressure.
Cracks, holes and the common ding:
This refers to anything that breaks your fiberglass. This can easily happen in or out of the water. You could be surfing too close to the pier and your board hits a pylon during a wipeout and now you have a big crack/ hole in your board. Or you simply drop your board taking it out of the car. This is probably your most common ding but also your easiest to fix.
Broken fin /fin box:
Your fin box is what holds your fins in place on the bottom of your board. The most common way you will damage your fin box is riding a wave in too far, allow me to explain…
The longer you ride a wave the closer you’re getting to the beach. If it becomes shallow enough for you to touch bottom you’ve gone too far and could damage your fin box.
Surfing leashless will put your fin boxes at greater risk as well. If you’re not careful and end up losing your board it will get washed to shore because of your lack of leash. Rocks or even just sand can damage your fin box or ding your board on its free ride in.
Buckling is like a fold in your board but not a snapped board. It will look like a long horizontal line across the deck or bottom of your board.
Buckles are caused by your board impacting the water and the wave wanting to fold in half.
It can happen when you’re paddling and get stuck inside and the next thing you know the lip of a massive monster wave is smashing on your board probably cause you’ve ditched in an attempt to save your own life.
Or if you happen to drop in on a close out. A close out is a wave that breaks all at once. You can’t go left or right. So you go straight down and the impact can buckle your board.
Now this is still our standard ding. It’s really just a long hole. Like if you karate chopped with a knife. The distinction is on how this ding occurs.
This ding happens when your board gets hit with another surfers fin and it cuts into your board. In crowded line ups, this is fairly common and can be the source of many beach quarrels.
Whosever fault it is, it’s still quite annoying especially because in most cases it’s a preventable accident. So just make sure to look both ways before you drop and if there is someone, know when to give them the right of way.
This is when the fiberglass begins to separate from the foam core of your board. Much more common in epoxy boards but still can happen with a good old fashioned fiber glasser.
It’s caused by heat. Surfboards are like a vampire forced to play in the sun every day with only water to protect them. Heat will cause the foam core to expand and detach from the epoxy/fiberglass shell. This is no bueno. So remember don’t put your board in direct sunlight or hot cars.
The most deadly type of ding for sure. So deadly maybe it’s not even a ding? It’s the equivalent of totaling your car. Snapping your board normally happens when you’re really good or really bad.
A really good surfer surfing super aggressively can snap a board in a number of different situations, from landing weird on a massive air to pearling the nose on a round house.
A beginner on the other hand will probably snap a board by accidentally being in the impact zone of a big wave or dropping in straight down and hitting the sand.
How to Fix Pressure Dings:
When it comes to pressure dings we are definitely entering the cure is worse than the illness territory. If it is water tight, no leaks, no cracks and what have you there’s not much of a reason to go about fixing it.
If you must fix it here’s the basic play by play.
Supplies: resin, catalyst, paper cups, popsicle sticks, mask, gloves, beer
1. Crack open cold one just like working on your car this can’t be done without a beer.
2. Find a nice spacious work area and set our board somewhere level and about waist height. Two sawhorses or chairs work really well. You can roll up towels and put them under your board to prevent any more pressure dings while working.
3. Sand the indentation and surrounding area lightly to give the new resin better grip.
4. Pour the resin in a paper cup and add the correct amount of catalyst (hardner) . This will depend on the amount you’re mixing,refer to the all knowing box for guidance.
5. Mix the resin and catalyst with a popsicle stick. Be Careful not to mix in too much air or this will cause bubbling as it cures.
6. Pour your mixture in the pressure ding. It’s really important that your board is level here otherwise it will spill out.
7. Let cure, again refer to the all knowing box.
8. Once cured you can sand it flush with the rest of the board.
That is the more traditional way to fix and a little more time-consuming way to fix dings. For small jobs on the fly, you can use an epoxy putty stick like JB Waterweld.
Cut a slice from the stick, you’ll notice the center is a different color. Add a few drops of water and mix it in between your fingers until the two colors should bond and become one for eternity. Fill your hole or crack, no on the board silly! Fill the ding and it will cure in minutes. You can sand it down for an extra polished look.
Can you Surf with Dings?
You definitely can surf pressure dings that’s for sure. 99% of surfers you see out in the water most likely have a pressure ding somewhere on their board. It’s very common, probably much less common is fixing them.
It is highly unrecommended to surf with any ding that isn’t water tight. If water can enter the sacred temple that is the inside of your board and you shouldn’t paddle out.
At the very least, the absolute phoning it in bare minimum put some duct tape over it. It’s always good to carry some of that epoxy putty we talked about in your car so unexpected dings don’t cut a surf short.
A delamanting board you can still surf with. If it’s under your feet it might feel weird and bubbly but it’s still water tight. Be careful if the delamination becomes open. For one water will get in and the foam will soak it up. And secondly the fiberglass isn’t connected anymore so a wave could potentially peel your whole deck off.
Learning how to fix dings is the best way to go. You will save money because if you are surfing regularly dings are unavoidable and maybe even make some money on the side fixing your friends’ boards.
The best part about being able to fix your own dings is all the amazing weird and fun boards you can find for super cheap just because they are dinged up. You’ll find so many awesome garage sale specials for 20 bucks and all you’ll have to do is fix a ding or two.