Surfboard Wax and Traction Pads/Deck Grips
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Applying Surfboard Wax
Surfboard wax goes on the top of your surfboard (Deck) Applying the wax, use light pressure to get a nice bead, you will hear people saying use long strokes, short strokes, circular etc. It depends on the wax and the hardness. Softer waxes tend to go on better with short strokes and harder waxes with long strokes.
The main point is to get a beading effect. It's best to put on too much wax and cover a lot of your board, rather than just doing patches where you think your feet will go, WHY? cause there will always be a time when you need it. Safe than sorry my mother used to say!
Types of Wax
Surf waxes come in hundreds of combinations of funky shapes, smells, colours, and hardnesses. And now in environmentally friendly versions too.
Most of the mainstream big surf wax brands are made from a combination of paraffin waxes, slack waxes, petroleum jelly and other ingredients to repel water and make it sticky. When the wax comes off your board and goes in the water it becomes a little pill for the sea-life.
There Are Two Main Types of Surf Wax
A harder version of surf wax that you put on a clean surfboard, it does exactly as it says, it puts a base coat to then apply a softer stickier surf wax.
Top coats come in a variety of hardnesses. And are separated by the recommended water temperatures. Cold water, cool water, warm water and tropical. Between the brands the hardness, beading ability and stickiness varies, so the best thing to do in choosing which surboard wax to use is to try a few different brands and find the one that you like best.
Just remember using a warm wax in a cold climate can be just as slippery as not having any wax at all. So when trying the different waxes make sure you are using the right Recommended water temperature for your area.
These days there are also a new variety of top coat wax emerging, the super tacky sticky top coat. Many wax companies now have added a super sticky version to their product lines. It's not to be used as a full coat, but rather a thin coat over the top of your normal wax.
Check the video below on how to wax a new surfboard
Wax combs are a handy and inexpensive piece of equipment and can be purchased to rough-up wax as it gets worn slick and to strip wax for a fresh coat. There's no need to buy any custom wax remover from a surf shop, just leave the board in the sun for 5 minutes and strip with a wax comb or any piece of hard, straight plastic.
Tail patches should be placed centered over the rear fins. For the rest of the board, the deck grip can go anywhere that seems appropriate.
These days full deck grips are rare, as mentioned before they restrict the movement of your feet and are uncomfortable to lay on when paddling your surfboard.
If you want to try a deck grip the placement on the surfboard is not as critical as the tail pad. Try popping up from a prone position to standing with legs slightly apart next to the board. Place the grip so your front foot is centered.
The most common set-up is to use only a tail patch and use wax for the rest of the board. I would suggest that you try this combination especially when learning to surf.
The tail patch is a great reference point to know if your back foot is in the correct position and the wax will allow you the freedom of re-adjusting your front foot position.
Traction Pad Placement
Placement is a bit subjective and depends on the type of board you are riding, but if you look at your traction pad there is usually a notch cut out of the back. This is to allow for the leash plug.
For a thruster set-up- Place the pad as far back as it will go, but still allowing for the leash to move freely, about 1-2 inches
For a quad fish set-up-Place the pad about 2-3 inches forward of the leash plug.
Another point to remember is, if the back foot is further back the board is more sensitive and turns easier, back foot further up the board is more stable, but more difficult to turn. Watch the pros, they never have their feet in the same place and adjust foot placement for each wave.
Below is a video of how to apply your surfboard traction pad.