After years of testing, we’re stoked to unveil our new Rick Fierce Tube Rider! 

With design tweaks geared towards dizzying speeds and greater hold, it’s a high-performance upgrade on our standard surfrider. An ideal steed for bellyboard enthusiasts looking to explore steeper, hollower waves and seasoned surfers seeking maximum enjoyment at our coastline’s many novelty whompers. 

Ahead of the launch we sat down with a few members of the Dick Pearce test team to chat about the board’s design features and gather a few handy tips to help you get tubed on them. 

The first thing that leaps out about the Rick Fierce model is the shorter length – just 107cm tall compared to our standard 120cm surf rider. 

Just like with a surfboard, this reduction in surface area makes the board more manoeuvrable. While switching between boards during a test session in his favourite shorey, DP rider John Snook was immediately struck by the effect of this subtle change in length. “From the moment I dropped in, I just loved the shorter one,” he told me, “it’s much easier to control, feels much less cumbersome and less likely to slide out in the critical spot.” 

Another tweak geared towards improving hold on the wave face is the addition of a hard rail and crescent-shaped tail. “As the wave starts to bottom out,” explains tube hound Alex Smalley, “all the board wants to do is slip sideways, so having a rail and tail that really scythe into the face helps you get your weight in and hold it there.” 

When it comes to the amount of flex in the board, it’s all about striking a balance. A super stiff board can make scooping off the bottom into a steep wave face tricky. But, too much flex and you can feel the board warp beneath you, pushing water away and slowing you down. After trying many different combinations of maple, oak, cork and ply on prototype models, the team concluded that birch ply still reigns supreme when it comes to maximising speed and control. 

With design theory covered, let’s dive into some tips to get you in the pit, shall we?

Photo: @lugarts

Pick the right spot 

The most vital element when it comes to getting tubed is picking the right wave on the right day. “Of course, not every barrel has to be big, square and terrifying, breaking in 6 inches of water,” says Alex, “the best thing to do is start off soft.” 

Photo: @lugarts

Typically a wedge (where waves bounce off a headland or groyne) or a shorebreak, offer the best chance for getting tubed over sand. But really, most Cornish beachies will throw up hollow closeouts every time a medium-sized swell combines with a big low tide and howling offshores. The beauty of the bellyboard of course, is that it’ll let you squeeze into almost any barrel going. While the ultimate goal is to come flying out, the best way to build up comfort levels is to just pull in as much as possible. Plus, since most surfers avoid straight closeouts, on days like these, you’ll probably be able to find a bit of space to yourself. 

Photo: @lugarts

Dial in your technique

Once you’ve settled on a time and place, it’s time to dial in your technique. The crew recommend getting a set of fins, so you can catch the waves as early as possible. 

While it might feel most natural to take off sideways and hold yourself high in trim, for a barreling wave, Alex recommends dropping all the way to the bottom, then engaging your rail and pulling up into the face in a manoeuvre called ‘the scoop’. 

Photo: @lugarts

“That’s how you gain and keep the momentum you need,” he says, “because you’re taking all the speed from running down the face and then converting it into lateral drive as you turn off the bottom.” This technique puts you in the right place on the wave, just behind the hollow section, while also giving you the speed you need to race through once it starts to fold. Critical to this approach is sticking your leg outwards into the wave, so it acts like an extension of your board to hold you in place. On the occasions that you need to slow down for the barrel, this bottom turn can be easily converted into a stall with a quick yank of the nose. 

Photos: @lugarts

Commit to the tube! 

Now you’re in the perfect spot to get tubed, it’s time to commit. 

“That’s the most important thing,” says John, “because often if you try and pull out at the last minute, you’ll end up going over the falls. And even if you think you’re not going to make it, if you just hold on, you’ll be surprised how often you come flying through!” 

“Oh, and don’t close your eyes. I’ve done that loads of times and you end up missing the view, which is definitely the best bit.”

Photo: @eviejohnstone.stylist

Photo: @jonathansnook

Photo: @mattmariophotography

Photo: @lugarts
November 01, 2022 — Luke Gartside