Which Surf Skate Is Best for You? Carver Vs Smoothstar
Choosing the right surf skate can be daunting and there are so many different brands and designs to choose from. We break down the most popular two brands and which one we personally use.
Some surfers are a bit more tense when doing turns, and surf skating is one of the best exercises to relieve that tension. However, there are lots of great surf skateboards in the market and lots of brands producing surf skate equipment with different features, so you might not know which one is right for you.
Carver and SmoothStar are two of the best-known and most praised brands out there. Both offer skateboards with unique and innovative designs for surf training. For example, Carver’s engineers came up with a couple of truck systems (like the dual-axis C7 or the reverse kingpin CX) that aim to elevate the power and flow of the surfer. SmoothStar, on the other hand, has a patented thruster that is located on the front of the board. Thanks to this unique thruster, the turns are much smoother.
Without a doubt, both have their benefits, but what benefits you should look for depends on your surfing abilities and goals. For you to decide better, we’re going to break down both the Carver and the SmoothStar while also explaining surf skating in detail.
Where You Should Surf Skate
Before going into the differences between the two skateboards, we should give you some hints on how to properly surf skate. If you're a follower of OMBE or Clayton Nienaber himself, you’re probably aware of how much he criticizes flat surfers. Regardless of whether you’re just flat on the board or you opt for the flat parts of the waves, it essentially means that you’re doing it wrong.
Surf skating is no different. If you use your skateboard on a flat street, it won’t improve your surfing. You’ll just roll down the street chilling and occasionally saying hi to those who know you. Good surfing happens in the pocket of the wave, and that pocket is actually like a slanted wall. Therefore, the ideal place to practice is where there are inclined walls.
That being said, surfing on a straight street is not without its benefits either. In surfing, speed control mostly comes down to extensions and compressions of the knees. You can practice that by going downhill in a straight line, too. You can also try improving your posture and balanced stance.
However, these are only the basics of surfing that’ll just help you be comfortable on the board. For a better understanding of the wave and better bodily flexibility for twists and leans, a flat surf skating exercise will do you no good, and you’ll need to be on slants.
Carver vs. SmoothStar
While comparing the two, one thing is quite certain: SmoothStar turns way easier than Carver. Due to its unique thruster, you can pull off critical maneuvers with more accuracy and even gusto. Also, it lets the skater generate more speed, which makes it even more fun for a learning surfer. But, brace yourselves for the plot twist: these are not necessarily positive attributes.
While riding a SmoothStar, you generate speed by twisting and leaning, which is a bad habit. If you try generating speed by twisting and leaning on the wave, you’ll catch rail. The right way to generate speed on a wave is by extending and compressing. To accelerate more, you go to the ramp of the wave and transfer its pace and energy to your board, so that you do less and get more.
Yet, when you try extending and compressing on a SmoothStar, it gets all wobbly, and no matter your approach to surfing, you find yourself twisting and leaning. It’s as if the skateboard is forcing you into the wrong technique.
Carver, on the other hand, is more compatible with the right surfing technique. It’s more friendly in terms of riding ramps, and it’s easier to exercise extending and compressing on a Carver.
An average surfboard is longer than 5 feet. An average skateboard, though, is just 2 feet long. So, there’s inevitably a difference between doing turns with one or the other. For example, a longer board will take turns a whole lot slower than a shorter one. That’s especially the case if you’re doing turns horizontally, like most surfers, rather than vertically.
Vertical turning is quite difficult to master on water, but you might have seen skaters doing it on ramps. They go up the ramp vertically and with less speed so they can stall and let gravity provide them with the speed they need on their way down. That is quite an abrupt rotation that can easily be mimicked with a skateboard.
Horizontal turning, on the other hand, means that you’re riding with more speed because the force of gravity isn’t there to provide it. Therefore, you need to take your turn slower by holding and drawing it out smoothly.
A SmoothStar is more than capable of accomplishing the quick and abrupt rotation necessary for a vertical turn. Filipe Toledo is one of those rare surfers who favor vertical turns and, in that sense, SmoothStar being one of his sponsors is no surprise to anybody.
However, if you're a surfer who wants to do turns in a slower, smoother, and more fluid manner, you need a Carver. A Carver can maintain speed and power during a turn, and that’s why we use carvers for surf skating exercises at OMBE.
Compatibility With Actual Surfing
SmoothStar might be the more popular of the two, and it’s not only because it has a more stylish design than Carvers, which have a cruder look. A SmoothStar is also easier to learn, turn, and easier to roll down with on the street quickly. Yet, the technique and moves you learn while exercising on them don’t necessarily transfer to your surfing all that easily.
By exercising on a Carver, you’ll be converging on the experience of a surfer riding a wave. The technique you need to ride it, the generation of speed based on compressing and extending, the difficulty of turning, and the necessity to hold turns for longer are the features that make Carver more compatible with actual surfing.
It’s the skateboard that makes you feel more like you’re riding a wave. With proper training on the ramps, you’ll learn how to channel the wave’s energy to your board and how to do less while getting more. When you’re used to a SmoothStar, on the other hand, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up jiggling and wiggling on a surfboard.
Wrapping Up… Should I Buy a Carver or a SmoothStar?
After all the praise for Carvers and criticism against SmoothStar, this question might have come across as redundant to you, but it allows us to tell you that we don’t have any affiliation with any brand and we use Carvers in our training programs simply because we like them better. However, whether it’s going to be suitable for your surfing style or what you need to improve completely depends on your whereabouts in your own journey.
After all, we aren’t surfing the board; we’re surfing the waves, and surfing is all about extracting the energy of the wave and using it for our ride. Boards are only the means to an end, and the one that serves this purpose better is the right one for you.