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Gliding with Mike Lay

The Second Coming of Glide.

I found surfing at a relatively late age I was 14 when I really began to fall for the act of riding waves. I remember my first ‘green’ wave, ridden on a thick foam board during a school activity day at Sennen beach in the summer term of 2005. While riding straight to the sand was thrilling enough, the initial rush of dropping in was fleeting as the whitewater inevitably caught up, the moment of glide was but a moment. But that green wave was my first experience of extended glide of, what felt like, frictionless movement across an ever shifting expanse of water. I soon was encouraged to progress to a smaller board, the thought process being that once larger, easier boards to surf are ticked off the list one must make life harder for oneself by moving towards a shortboard. For me this avenue was short lived, I liked glide too much.

At that early stage in my surfing development it felt like serious regression to give up wave catching ability and flow, weren’t those things what surfing was about? In any case I quickly found my way back to bigger boards and longboards in particular. For 12 years I have been content in riding longboards in small waves and shortboards when there was enough power to do so without sacrificing glide and flow.

I was content with the level of glide I was achieving. Until, that is, I first rode my 10’10 glider made of English cedar by Lignum surfboards. Since that day I have felt a minor rebirth in my surfing and my appetite for surfing. Wave riding and anticipation is altered when on such a large craft, some aspects easier but most a lot more difficult, the entire process is hugely rewarding. During a rare, elongated run of easterly wind and small swell the board came into its own. It unlocked completely different ways of enjoying small waves and ushered in a level of fulfilment I never thought possible in crowded, waist high conditions.

Not only did the board do this for myself but virtually everybody who I leant it to. It was being handed from excited surfer to excited surfer, each eager to rediscover the unadulterated joy of glide. These same surfers were often reticent to borrow my longboard when offered. The average shortboarder perhaps wary that riding a longboard is somehow admitting defeat to some unknown entity, preferring instead to toil on their inappropriate craft. But the glider is so distinct, so alluring that the it drew the shortboards in and duly won them over.

I now look forward to small days, I know that I have an incredible tool to transform small waves into platforms of speed and flow. The beauty of the board itself (it left me speechless when I first saw and held it) is for another day. But the pure functionality of it is beguiling, so much so that I implore anyone reading this to seek one out, it could, in at least a very small way, change your life.


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