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Riders of the ’Storm

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I wish I’d snapped a picture of it.

Middle-aged guy, beleaguered look on his face, tween daughter fecklessly trying to help, overburdened flat cart, the two of them trying—unsuccessfully—to push their way out of the Southern California Costco with a baker’s dozen Wavestorms that wouldn’t cooperate. That’s thirteen 8-footers stacked six to a column on one cart, each of them taking turns alternately falling off the flat cart one by one, the daughter scurrying to scoop them up, the man cursing under his breath, the Costco lady not helping the process by meticulously counting the now-wobbling number of boards on the flat cart before signing off on the receipt with a flick of the highlighter in her right hand, the line behind the man swelling with irritated people, his face in turn swelling red, me wondering how far he had to go before he reached his car in the parking lot, and if I had time to snap a picture.

My wife turned to me as I whipped out my phone.

“What’s that all about?” she asked. “Why does somebody need that many of those things?”

The Wavestorm, of course, is a surfboard, in a manner of speaking. One purchases them primarily from the wholesaler Costco by pulling them from a bin that more accurately resembles a cubed pallet.

My wife doesn’t surf, has no interest in surfing, and yet her phrasing—“that many,” “those things”—had her saying a lot more about the modern state of surfing than she ever could have known.

The Wavestorm, of course, is a surfboard, in a manner of speaking. 8 feet of hard-bottomed, soft-topped foam that one purchases at any number of big box retailers—primarily the wholesaler Costco, but also The Home Depot and others, by pulling them from a bin that more accurately resembles a cubed pallet. For $99, the Wavestorm is yours, and if you break it, which you might, you can return it for a complete exchange at Costco.

And plenty of people are buying them. While there is no independent data analysis, Wavestorm’s parent company, AGIT, based out of Irvine, California, estimated that it sold more than 100,000 Wavestorms in 2016 through Costco alone. Like that, and not surprisingly, the board has become the number one selling surfboard in the world, selling. And yet many within the insular confines of the surfboard industry do seem surprised by this. Or at least dismayed…

 

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