Big Guy Tri – a shortboard for bigger surfers


If you're a big guy, as in tall and/or large, you've got only a couple of options when it comes to surfing.

  • You can bust out a log. Think 9'6″ of foam. A log will be easy to paddle, and because of your size, easy enough to step on the tail and whip that boat around. That said, a longboard might get boring after awhile or just plain ridiculous in surf where you need something shorter to mind-meld into the face of a breaking wave.
  • You can get a potato chip and flail.
  • You can get what's meant for you, in the form of a “Big Guy Tri.”
  • You can bust out a SUP.

The Big Guy Thruster is built with bigger surfers in mind. More foam. More length. Wider. It's a style of surfboards that's either marketed as a surfboard for bigger guys or just happens to be a particular model of board that suits these kind of surfers. As Channel Islands says – “Not to be confused with a fun shape or hybrid.”

Popular Big Guy Tris include the Channel Islands M13 (and now, the recently release Big Willy, shown here), the …Lost SDII, Harbour's Drifter model. A ton of local shapers can make you a surfboard tailored fit to your size with the right amount of float.

Travis Lee from Channel Islands Surfboards is quick to tout the Big Willy, a new board that debuts in 2009. “It's like our M13 in some ways,” says Lee, “but the Big Willy has a lot less foam in the nose and is more like a traditional shortboard, with a squash tail.” big guy surfboard

Says Steve Avery, GM of …Lost Surfboards: “While we don't make a surfboard and market it as a Big Guy Tri, we do have boards that will be great for that and can scale up.” Indeed, the …Lost Speed Deamon II can scale up, or down, Avery explains. “The SDII can be a grom contest board or something a 245 pound guy can ride, in the right dimensions,” he says. That said, Avery cautions against going too big, crossing the 7'6″ point. “You might be 6'4, 245 pounds, but if you add a wetsuit, you might be better off on a funshape or even a longboard,” says Avery.

Mike Sopena at Harbour Surfboards agrees: “A lot of guys used to surf a 6'6″ pintail, but they're not 150 pounds anymore. The Big Guy Tri is a good fit for them, if they're realistic about how they surf.” Harbour surfboards offers the “Drifter” which runs from 7'0″ to 8'0″ and starts at around $750. “A big mistake we see are guys picking a board that is way too small for them. Not enough foam, and not enough paddle shape,” says Sopena.

What about the big guy's surfing? Is it the surfboard or the surfers? “If you can comfortably surf head-high on a longboard, cross-step, cheater five, then it may be time to transition down. But baby steps,” says Sopena.

All in all, it's probably a good idea to test a buddy's step up board (a board your shorter friends will use in bigger surf) or even their Flyer II to get a sense of the work that's required to get into the wave.

But if you're a big guy, and not feeling the log or fish, a Big Guy Tri surfboard might be the way to go.

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  1. How about not stuffing your face with Snickers bars and MacDonald’s Happy Meals and losing weight?

    • Amen.

    • How about if you are 6’2 tall and weigh 250 pounds? I surf since 28 years ago, and i used to ride a 6’3 and then a 6’6, but it´s hard for the average shaper to shape a real good board to a bigger guy (as i am). I now ride longboards a 9’1 and a 9’6, but i ordered a shortboard wich is wider and thicker than the average board. Sorry for my English i’m from Portugal and i’m writting fast, because work calls. Good waves for everybody.

  2. Messy Jesse says:

    Dude, is that picture real? There’s no way…

  3. jimbo pellegrine says:

    stuffing my face with snickers bars ha. how about i stuff your whole body in a fuckin trash ben. fuckin cook kl pontz and yea its real see ya in the water cook pontz.

  4. Profile photo of Surfing HQ says:

    KL Pontz can’t cook for shit.

  5. KL, wait till you get old and stiffen up a bit, you’ll be lucky to still be catching waves.

  6. Wave Glider says:

    Harbour also makes the Spherical Revolver, CI makes, or did make the MBB.

    Ever see Ben Aipa in the water? Now he’s not so small, comment on his weight to his face = “Hawaiian Beat Down!”

    This is an old photo, and I have seen the video. Give the guy some credit, at least he’s trying, and catching waves. I just wouldn’t want to get run over by him.

    GO FOR IT!

  7. Dave Collyer says:

    The photo is real. I should know I shot it. Jimbo is for real too. A great guy and a man with skills. The question for me is why did use my photo without asking?

  8. north shore says:


  9. Joe Blair fron Solana Beach makes the best Rounded Quad ever for big guys. Hands down the best shaper for that type of surfing period. And I am just getting started after 47 years of surfing!!!

  10. i’m over the 225lb mark and have been riding a couple big guy boards made my infinity surfboards the “big tex” model and the “silverback”fun fun boards!

  11. 805surfin says:

    I am 6’2 240, I am interested in getting into surfing. I have always wanted to try It just never that close to a beach.

    for a bigger guy like myself, what would be a good board to start off with?

  12. Cook?? I think its kook but oh well. Really big is not whats happening – even if you do get the board right you are hauling around a boat load of health risks every time you paddle out. Once over 40 you are going to get a wide assortment of illnesses that will not only keep you out of the water but maybe out of life. Really guys lose the weight – no excuses its what you need to do. I am over 50 was getting big and lost 70 pounds so if I can do it, yes I am lazy as hell, you can too.

  13. I just scored a very sweet deal on a 7′ M13 from Channel Islands. I kept this article bookmarked — bought the board — and came back to say….sweeeeet. As for weight loss, meh. I move better at say 200 lbs, but the mass just isn’t there. I am more comfortable at about 220. Big dudes don’t just happen, we are just big.

  14. 58 big and slower says:

    Im 58 6′ 7″ 250 and would like to try boat wake surfing what board would work for me –easy up— easy ride —probably no tricks

  15. really no donkey under 2oo can do a proper turn they just do butt wiggles and and neck snaps dont let power surfing die watch arc watch sunny watch pancho stop being a pussy

  16. Just because someone weighs over 200lbs doesnt mean they have to lose weight. Im 6’3 and weigh 230lbs and my body fat % is low. If i were to try to get down to 200-210lbs I would look sickly. I’ve been surfing 3 years now on a 7’8 funshape and am looking for a solid big guy short board. Maybe a decent sized fish? Pumpkin Seed? Anyone reccomend specific dimensions to go for? I was thinking like a 6’8, 2 3/4 thick, not quite sure how wide.

  17. How funny, someone says they want to get in to a sport, to lose weight, and people discourage them because they need to loose weight. Fricken idiots. Go for it man, forget these miserable haters!

  18. Patrick McDermott says:

    OK! Once the Comodians get done, maybe someone can suggest a, (dare I say it) East Coast shaper who can do a big guy board. I have come to accept that, while there are many things I can still do, losing 65 pounds (safely) isn’t one of them.

    Back in the 60s I had a Wardy long board, and weighed 185#. At 260 (+/-) I face a challange. I do have another board (last surfed in Lake Superior in 1987) but I was 220# then and a bit over the boards capability. Of course, that was wind-chop and a late take-off was the rule. (A lot like my experience at San Diego in 1968 – Hot and sunny with water temp about 54 degrees ).

    Thankful for any “real” help.

    Hope you guys don’t talk like that in the line-up – water’s polluted enough as it is.

  19. vincent vespe says:

    I am 6’6………..If I were less than 200lbs i would look like a serious meth addict……….According to you retards I shouldnt surf if I am over 200lbs…………Pack of serious retards

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