The Pad-demic is Upon Us


The past 18 months has been all ‘Covid, Covid, and more Covid,’ meanwhile another pandemic flew entirely under the radar.

Fortunately, this illness isn’t deadly; it’s more of an aesthetic ailment, burning the eyes of all those who cross its path. I’m talking about the issue of horrendous grip pad placement on surfboards. Now, because you read this fine magazine, it’s safe to assume you know how to apply traction to a board and the sort of boards you should and shouldn’t put grips on. However, not everyone out there is as knowledgeable as you and I. As it turns out, there’s a preponderance of atrocious pad placement happening out there.

Professor Sad Pads, better known by his Instagram moniker @sadpads, has been documenting these crimes against surfboards over the past few months. I interviewed him to get a better grasp of what’s going on and what can be done to cure this illness.

When and why did you start the page? 

The Sad Pads community was born out of the comedy of errors that is all the misplaced and unsightly traction in the world. From the moment Astrodeck slapped a grip on a board in the 70s, we as a culture have been subjected to the pitfalls of pad faux-pas. The pandemic-fuelled surf boom [note: surfboard sales skyrocketed last year] was in many ways a pad-remix and a breaking point for me; there were some setups out there that were just so incredibly horrendous they absolutely had to be shared. And I’ll tack on, what both surfing and social media clearly needed was more judgement and negativity.

 

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How do you find all these godforsaken pad set-ups?

An irresponsible amount of time is spent scrolling sites like Craigslist, Offer Up and Facebook Marketplace. As Sad Pads has gained more traction (oof), I’ve been lucky enough to have a solid supply of submissions from the Sad Pad community. There are also some great resellers who know to share a Sad Pad when they see one. Then there are some pros that are frequent violators. The Gudauskas Bros, Damien Hobgood and a lot of young air guys like to do some weird shit with pads lately and it needs to be poked fun of, but it’s all out of love. Also, the vast majority of the public just can’t put on Octopus Pads correctly for some reason.

 

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What’s your favourite (the worst) set-up you’ve ever seen?

Sad Pads are in the eyes of the beholder, but tail pads placed too high up are pretty much universally disgusting. Of those, there’s so many to choose from, but my personal favourite is this old school Bark Surfboards shape with an Ocean Earth pad placement that is absolutely mental. It’s an odd board to start with, the stance must’ve been incredible. By bizarre coincidence, a day after sharing it, a friend of a friend somehow ended up actually buying the board, and removed the pad. It’s a small sad world.

 

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Do you think it’s a cardinal sin to put a grip on a pre-2000’s board?

Boards that are more than 20 years old should either keep whatever atrocious pad they still have on as a warning for future generations or remain pad-free, as our ancestors intended.

What about a grip pad on a longboard, mid-lengths, or twin-fins?

If you put a pad on any of those, straight to hell.

What about those little kicks on the end of twin fins?

It’s easy to understand the purpose, cause unless you’re Occy, Mikey February or Mason Ho, not having a kick on an alt board that’s still made for high performance feels uncomfortable. But hey, they look terrible, and you will be certainly judged for it. You better surf well if it’s going to be worth the ridicule.

 

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What do you think of front pads? Yay or nay.

They’ve clearly made a resurgence over the past couple years, but I’m confident it’s just an elaborate (and honestly genius) marketing ploy of Big Traction to get hard-working civilian surfers to shell out an extra $40-$50.

 Is there a general rule of thumb for putting a pad on a board? Maybe some advice you’d give to a grip pad sinner.

Measure twice, grip once. Get that tail pad all the way back or live long enough to see yourself on Sad Pads.

 

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