The Wavestorm Taquito was the first short (ish) board I successfully surfed a river wave on, so it’s worth reviewing here. I had surfed SUPs and kayaks, but since I was coming at river surfing from a whitewater kayaking background, I couldn’t manage to pop up on short boards, even those designed for river surfing.
Then along came the Taquito. It’s actually a kid’s paddleboard, but at 7 feet with a fair bit of rocker, it fits onto river waves. It has enough float to allow beginners to pop up, even with a sloppy pop up, and it has enough of a planing surface to surf small, green waves that are otherwise restricted to SUPs. It also has a real finbox, so you can plug in true longboard fins, rather than the big (and stiff) fin that comes in the set. I like the 6″ FCS Dolphin fin, but lots of others will work. Just keep in mind that the fin box isn’t quite as long as a standard longboard/SUP finbox, so longer fins may not fit. The board is durable too; it’s nice when you’re starting out to not worry about smashing your board into rocks and doing ding repairs before you come out again.
Downsides are the single fin setup has its limitations; it may be worth plugging in cheap screw-in fins to set it up as a thruster. It’s also too long for some river surf waves.
You can find the Taquito at Costco, but if you don’t have a membership or prefer to get big boxes in the mail, you can order through Amazon as well, which is where I’ve affiliate-linked here and above:
Since I’ve shuffled this page around, I didn’t want to lose David’s excellent advice regarding modifications, so I’m reposting it here:
MODIFYING A TAQUITO: One of the most interesting things with river surfing is that board shapes and sizes are so dependent on the type of wave you are surfing be it a flatter wave of Dave’s Wave or a steep wave like Benihana’s (RRP upper wave). Well one thing you can do is modify the Wavestorm Taquito to fit your needs. I chopped the tail of one and turned it into a twin fin 6’ mini-simmons river board that works real well in low flow conditions with a big flat tail. Bryce, a local RRP ripper, chopped his Taquito’s tail down into an egg shape that Bryce rides single fin on the steep fast wave of Benihana.
METHOD: Simple. Use only Gorilla Glue (all other glue will eat the foam). Trace out or line out your final tail and cut at about 5” wider than your intended final shape. Cut with a hand saw. Next, cut from the bottom plasticized bottom layer upward with a box cutter at just about your final shape line. DO NOT CUT THROUGH THE TOP SKIN layer since you will use this to seal up the final shape. Stringer will need some cutting with the hand saw. Peel up the upper skin to almost the point of your final shape. Sand back the foam for your new tail’s rail (could be rounded or angled or even squared off). Fold the skin down to check that it goes beyond the final cut shape of the tail. Use the Gorilla Glue (needs a light misting of water to activate and the glue expands dramatically). Apply the glue, fold down the skin (it will overlap the bottom of the board but you will trim this after it dries). Use a lot of duct tape to hold the skin down. Let dry at least 4 hours to overnight. Remove the duct tape. Trim off the extra skin from the bottom. Lightly cut or sand away the excess Gorilla Glue. Look for gaps or voids that need some sealing up with Gorilla Glue or with a glue gun (watch out, glue gun can melt the skin). Then measure and cut in the spot for the fin box. Pull the fin box out of the old left over board piece. Use a box cutter to cut the bottom of the board for the fin box. Glue in with the Gorilla Glue and tape down with duct tape and put a weight on it (bricks or rocks). Let dry. Remove duct tape and clean up the Gorilla Glue looking for voids/holes that need filling in w/ more Gorilla Glue or a glue gun. Put the fin in. Get a sharpie and write something stupid on the bottom of the board and go surfing. Cheapest mod to a surfboard ever.
Update: Wavestorm has also released an 8′ kids paddleboard, which might be a touch long for some river waves but should work just as well for modifications. Find it here.