Taken By Wavestorm

The suburban stick of choice finds its way into professional quivers

| posted on February 13, 2012

The new hundred-dollar pro model with an unbeatable return policy. Jamie O'Brien at Backdoor. Photo: Baeseman

The Wavestorm is sold at Costco. It’s produced in Taiwan and shipped in bulk, with its custom aspects limited to white stripes on a blue deck, or the other way around. Rubber fins, stock leash, pre-installed traction. Easy on the wallet and hard to ding, the board has become the centerpiece of suburban quivers.

At its core, this source of soft-top stoke actually has a lot in common with another recent alternative craft trend. The alaia revolution saw a loss of fins and a return to retro—a rehash of a foregone era. Founded on merits of soul and craftsmanship, alaias were an instant hit within certain circles, despite the obvious hindrance of a surfer’s ability.

The Wavestorm is the archenemy of the hand-shaped, renewable-resource alaia clan. But within the sport, the two represent the very same thing, both split by a common denominator. Each is a niche, an alternative for surfers who’ve grown weary of their thruster setups and business-as-usual quivers. The two sit on polar opposites of surfboard technology: One organic and unique, the other commercial and mass-produced. But in the pro surfing community, these crafts represent two sides of the same coin: Surfers’ desire to handicap themselves with dysfunctional equipment for a new buzz.

Jamie O’Brien gets bored in 4- to 6-foot Pipeline with his regular boards, so he resorts to his Wavestorm for barreling Backdoor and double-downs—second reef step-offs from his soft-top to his thruster are part of this warped progression.

There’s the blog PostModernCollective, a stoked satire of the standard pro surfer blog roll. Custom board art, setups and galleries of Wavestorms in action. Founder and photographer Bryce Johnson says their mission is simply based on the fundamental of stoke. “Our little crew has always ridden soft boards, starting back in the BZ and Doyle days. We can take the crappiest days and turn them into magic. Lots of the posts on our blog are from horrible days, but we go out with an idea and try to get shots of it. We’re trying to push the limits with the Wavestorm boards in all kinds of surf. We think that Wavestorms are the ‘best worst-board’ ever.”

PMC contributor Kyle Maligro at home in his alternative element. Photo courtesy of

Kauai’s Koa “Doyle” Smith fell hard and fast for the soft-top siren call. “We were at Riley Metcalf’s [in San Clemente] for a week straight, and there was a pulsing southern-hemi swell slamming into the beachbreak out front. I didn’t want to keep breaking my shortboards, so I decided to do the unthinkable. Then and there, I forged an unbreakable bond with the Doyle. There is no such thing as a bad day to Doyle. When the waves are crackin’ and the keiki are scared, I’m out there with the dolphins.”

He and his brother Alex have strained their ties with their local supplier, after having abused their legendary return policy. “On my way to returning Doyle number three, Uncle Costco asked me, ‘Why are you breaking so many Doyles? Maybe you don’t know how to surf?’ After grabbing two more from the rack, Costco employees started losing it. There were three employees following us around the store, telling us we shouldn’t buy them. Finally as we were about to walk out the door we heard a distant yell—we looked back and saw an old lady running after us. She told us that we were absolutely not allowed to return any more Doyles. It’s fine though. I’ll just take them to a different Costco.”

Koa in line at his local repair shop. Instagram courtesy of @lastnamefirstTV

  • fatc

    I can attest to the wave storms capability to producing dank sessions. Was in Venice beach a few weeks back during one of the cali swells, was just skating the skatepark but my brother spotted some dank nugs between the pier and the jetty. Suited up, borrowed some wavestorms from someones backyard cuz we didnt have our boards, and proceeded to get multiple barrels and make our homies back at the skatepark super jealous.

  • dman

    Oh great, this is why costco stoped taking returns on big screen TVs after 3 months, becasue some people got GREEDY and this is what these guys are doing. STOP you donkeys

  • Marshall Daza

    Ive gotten completely dry docked on one in San Clemente at Clock Tower. Just dont try to turn one.

  • Buzzkill

    A little note. Many of the folks who are riding these boards in my town I have heard complaining about “pop-outs”. Well, let me tell you that the company producing these boards specific goal is to occupy shelf space and steal board sales from shapers, and other related technology that actually pays humans for the true cost of the item. What is the harm of buying one of these? It’s impossible for them to be produced at the price. The original Morey Doyles cost close to the same amount in the early eighties. Surf shop or Cost Co? Long term harm? Too many more tools surfing, and not paying the cost…Please, keep promoting the further “progress” of surfing. You are doing a wonderful job. Oh hey, editor. Did wave storm give you any add money?

  • Kopper

    Not sure about this write up…. So what are you saying, TheSurferMag? Nothing really, because TheSurferMag doesn’t take sides right?

    Well to all you bleeding heart Boxer’s…Keep paying the $$$ for whatever ‘earth friendly’ boards you want to believe in. Keep supporting the local shaper…. Keep thinking its us against them… Or, go get a wavestorm, paddle out and be free. When you start to crack a smirk smile, don’t say i didn’t warn you.

    Never mind, ride the board you have ridden since high school and beef up with pride and ego, and for the side dish, yell at the young kids getting in your way while you think you are still 18 in newport beach.

  • bodhi zaffa

    I’m diggin the doyle revolution becasue of 2 things, Koa Smith straight killing it and its a revo that isnt serious, as opposed to allias er whatever where people actually get into it and want to surf well on those greased planks.

    Go watch Koa snap them sum bitches in the shorebreak, trying to get pitted, hilarity ensues. Also, JOB pullin into some size on those caddie brohms is classic.

  • Gunn

    Hey, it’s Cost Co’s policy, right. Return that pile. I grabbed a shorty soft top Beater from Catch Surf. Super fun when you don’t want to be serious…and no, it didn’t work in the blackball area, but I sure made the lifeguard swim all the way out to the line up to tell me that I couldn’t surf it there.

  • the wuss generation

    some people have little to do in life… break boards and return them.
    i suggest getting a female companion and some direction.. oh wait, its getting drugged up and then busting boards on purpose..

    tired of all these 25 year old going on 12 year olds.

    a generation of soft wusses celebrating themselves on facebook.

  • Boulder

    Riveting news… This story is garbage. So is this website. Im not checking it anymore.

  • sam

    Ha this is so accurate. well-written. haters goin hate

  • danl

    I guess mixing it up and having fun is essentially what surfing is all about, but I think O’Brien is just being a gigantic show off. He’s a great surfer, but the everyone-look-at-me Pipeline antics are what’s getting boring, not the surfboards.

  • Erik

    It hilarious that so much grace is given to the Doyle rider but the boogie boarders and the SUP folks get all the hate.

  • calculatorphone

    Best $99 I have ever spent in my life. You go with lower expectations when you leave the “nice” boards at home and paddle out to storm the beach on one of these so you have an amazing time no matter what. They’re super fun with no fins as well–spinning out and stuff. I have a buddy on the north shore who surfs these exclusively, mostly without fins.

  • Billy Burke

    Im gettin’ one.

  • chad

    Stop doing that to costco. They are a great company. Definitely no walmart.

  • bapha

    Nice. Our surfboards were the only thing we owned that was still made in america and now Surfermag is making it hipster-hip to buy more crap from china. Way to go surfermag – you’ve successfully given booster rockets to a dumb idea that actually cuts US jobs in YOUR industry. Hope Josh T. Saunders wins a Pulitzer for this cause it cost someone their job and put a buttload of chinese crap in our landfills.

  • tommyboy

    the point is having fun, and i’m getting old

  • Rick

    Do you wanna get lots o waves and travel light and not worry about breakage, or have that extra edge and be a nervous wreck worrying about equipment?

    I’ll choose the former, any day of the week.

  • z-man

    e pluribus olas

    all hail progress!

  • Mot

    Some of my friends and I were thinking of getting some soft boards for the flat summer days and play king of the wave.

  • John

    The costco’s on the East Coast don’t carry the wave storm surf board. They only have the stand up paddle board. Could someone help me out? I need 2 of them. I’ll send the money plus shipping costs and throw someone a 50 spot if they would buy and ship them too me…..

  • Pingback: The Perfect Wavestorm | Santa Cruz Waves

  • matt

    John, they have them at the Wilmington NC costco

  • Ara

    Pls, could anyone tell me where to find this board? Ive got into cotscos web site at Wilmington and none of them there. It is hard to find those funboards though.

  • WaveFin


    You can go here to see the World’s first. The original Adjustable Wing Twin Fin.

    Thank you

  • Ray Tarkington

    Love my Wavestorm. Been surfing since I was 15 in 1971. It’s about having fun now, not trying to win a contest or prove nothing.
    Had spine fused and now a slow old man-so two choices-shoulder hop easy waves OR cut the 8′ foamy down, put in quad fins AND go steep and deep BACK in the barrel. Easy choice. It’s foam, won’t break ribs and arms, like I have done in the past.
    See and old man kneeboarding on a foamy and getting barreled ( always head high on your knees, if smaller I’ll lay down ) it’s ME!
    Keep the stoke!

  • Barry

    Great post…I picked up one for my grom nephew, but I have used the hell out it thru the summer: awesome for near-flat conditions. I thought you could repair dings w/Elmer’s, but it is definitely not waterproof; any recommendations (the than returning it to Costco, ha) for ding repair?

  • BG Davis

    “Surfers’ desire to handicap themselves with dysfunctional equipment for a new buzz.”

    Spoken like a true contemporary pseudo-hip surfer dude groupie. If you don’t do it, or want it, or like it, you just have to sneer at it so you can be one of the gang. Fact is, you can get great rides on Doyles and other foamies–if you know what you’re doing. Whoever wrote this article, I can guarantee there are people much better surfers than you who have fun on foamies. Of course, they are into surfing to surf, not to prove something.

    How about “Surfers’ desire to handicap their bank accounts to prove they are cool by having a dozen expensive boards for every tiny change in swell size and direction?”

    • Clay

      Thanks, you are the one to ask probably: how do these fair compared to the other foam boards, and especially the more rigid soft tops out there? I was thinking to get one for my kids, myself, etc. if it was any good.