Summer Keeps Demand High for Soft Top Surfboards

NBC 7 Responds found lots of people are trying to hit the waves in San Diego -- some just starting to learn how to surf on a simpler kind of board

NBC Universal, Inc.

Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, people have picked up a lot of hobbies. Baking bread may have been one of the most popular, but other people took the chance to get outside.

"Tried buying a bike, fishing stuff, outdoor stuff, and soft boards were the same," said Lucas Dalager, the surfboard buyer at Hansen Surfboards. "We definitely sold more and more over the last few years, but last year was insane."

Dalager said the shop completely sold out of the soft top boards last year, selling more than double the amount as the year before. One reason is that a soft top surfboard is a good board for people who are learning how to surf.

"You didn't have to learn on a soft board when we were younger but there's just so many options of them now," said Dalager. "Why not get them up on a soft board and then when they transition to that hard board they still have a soft one to go back on fun sunny days."

That's exactly what some surfers are using them for, as the foam boards grow in popularity.

"It's my fun board I take to the beach in the afternoon," said Scott Whitehead, a surfer who calls the boards sponges. "They perform good, they're cheap, they're easy to throw in your truck. It's kind of a great alternative!"

Whitehead says he's seeing more and more surfers using the soft top alternatives because they're simple and easy to use.

"My daughter has one and her husband," said Whitehead. "And we surf in the afternoon. They're super fun and you don't have to worry about them."

But not everyone is a fan.

Some people prefer classic, hard boards, like surfer Jim Tomes.

"Soft boards have their place in surf camps and when you're trying to instruct someone," said Tomes. "Other than that they shouldn't be in the lineup."

Still, others don't really mind what people use. They say it's more about the experience than the board.

"You can have a great day on a foam board," said surfer Mark Thiel. "I'm not prejudiced to what kind of board people are riding, so it's great."

Hansen Surfboards carries six different brands of boards and still has several in stock, but the shop expects them to go quickly. While the popularity of soft top surfboards spiked during the pandemic, Dalager thinks they're here to stay.

"I think it's always going to be a viable board," said Dalager. "There's always people who want to learn. There's always people who just want to get in the water and get wet and come in smiling, and so I don't see it going away anytime soon."

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