Jim Banks On: The Perfect Indo Quiver

3 May 2016 3 Share

Jim Banks

Surf Legend

Two Banks boards a 7'2 and 8'2 for Marcus from Pulse Charters

Two Banks boards a 7'2 and 8'2 for Marcus from Pulse Charters

Jim Banks On: Your Perfect Indo Quiver

Ok, so we here are in May. It’s that time of the year when a lot of people are thinking about upcoming Indo trips and sorting out their Indo quivers. When I was running the Indo Odyssey expeditions, customers would often ask me what boards they should bring, so here’s my rundown of what you need to think about for an Indo surf trip.

SEE ALSO: Weekly Bali-Indo Forecast

Generally, there are 4 types of boards you need to consider;

  1. A small wave fun board
  2. An all round/hi-performance board for quality waves
  3. A step up board or gun for those bigger days
  4. A backup board

1. Your Smaller, Softer Wave Fun Board

Now most of us, when dreaming about Indo, are picturing long, peeling offshore barrels and there are a lot of those days here in Indo. But even in peak season, you are going to get days, or even weeks sometimes, when there’s just not much swell. If you’ve got the right board, even the small days can be a whole lot of fun, especially if you’re on a boat with just your mates in the middle of nowhere.

SEE ALSO: Jim Banks On, The One Dollar Surfboard

These days, pretty much every brand has their model for this sort of surf and generally speaking you’re looking for something a little wider and a lower overall rocker for better planning across the softer faces. My Jim Banks Honey Bee, The Haydenshapes Hypto Krypto, DHD’s Project 15 and JS Industries 107 and are also good examples of this style of board.


These days a lot of surfers are discovering that many of the retro designs are great fun for the smaller days and so are a great option for your Indo quiver. If you choose one built by somebody who really knows what they’re doing, they will still carve it up when the waves get going.

On the smaller days of the Odyssey trips last year, there was usually a queue waiting to borrow my twin keel Magic Carpet fish and often found myself grabbing my early 70’s inspired ’73 single fin. There’s a fantastic proliferation of these style board’s these days and that’s because if you get a good one, they can really make junk waves fun again.

Matt Banks on a twin fin fish keel on rail, Photo by Indo Odyssey

Matt Banks on a twin fin fish keel on rail, Photo by Indo Odyssey

2. Your Board for Quality Waves up to Slightly Overhead

This is where your all-round or high-performance board comes in. If this board is just a standard off the rack hi performance glass job, there’s a good chance that it going to pop right in two at the tip of the hat in quality waves. I would watch some of the younger chargers go through 3 or 4 boards over a 10 day period during the Odyssey charters, often breaking them in waves under head high.

Some manufacturers are responding to this and I’ve noticed that DHD now offers a considerably stronger glass job for their step up Sweet Spot model. I offer my customers a specific glass option for these sort of boards called hi-glass that shifts the resin to fiberglass ratio and pretty much doubles the strength of the board for only a marginal weight gain. I have only broken one board with this sort of glass job, and it took a 25ft day to do it.


A final note for this category is that if you choose a good retro board, one that’s designed to perform, not just look cool, then you’ll be able to take on more serious waves with it.

Over the last 10 or so years, I have been putting a massive amount of work into dialing in my retro designs, and now I will often surf my twin keel fish or my single fins in waves up to slightly overhead, even double overhead sometimes.

3. Bigger Days

Now here’s where you have to decide just how big you want to surf it! These days with surf forecasts you can get a pretty good idea of just what sort of surf to expect if you’re just doing a ten-day/two-week trip and so you can plan accordingly.

Up to Double Overhead

This is where, unless you’re surfing a ledging slab, you’ll need a more serious step-up board with a bit more paddle power and, if you’re dealing with larger, more open style faces, something that will generate distance out of your turns. A mistake that I see a lot, is younger guys riding boards too short for them in larger waves and not getting the drive and projection they need to put the board where it needs to go.

For myself I find depending on the wave, a board 5 - 6 inches taller than myself (6’6”) generally works really well in these sort of waves. But if there’s a lot of water moving or if I’m in the mood to feel something longer under my feet, I’ll ride my 7’0” which is 12” taller than me.

Jim Banks on a board too small for the conditions, Photo by Indo Odyssey

Jim Banks on a board too small for the conditions, Photo by Indo Odyssey

Double to Triple Overhead

Ok, now we’re starting to talk about some serious waves and unless you’re a super hottie at some top to bottom slab, this is where you’re going to need some substantial paddle power and drive in your board. Generally speaking, this is where a board at least 12” taller than yourself come into play. For this size surf, I’ll grab my 7’0”, or if there’s a lot of water moving around, my 7’3”, which is an extra 1/8” thicker than my 7’0” and packs a lot more paddle and acceleration power.

Triple Overhead Plus

In Indo, we can get quite a few triple overhead days, but for a 10 day/2 week surf trip they will be pretty rare and it’s not often that you would pack for these days. But if it looks like there’s one coming and you’re up for it, here’s where you start to break out your serious guns. Once again it comes down to how much water is moving around. Somewhere like outside corner Uluwatu where it’s usually pretty clean and organised, a board around 15 -18 inches taller than yourself will do the job, as long as it’s beefed up to give you the extra paddle power. But other places, where’s there’s a lot more water moving around I’ve had trouble getting into sets on an 8’0” and I actually need to get my butt into gear and make myself a 9’0” for these days.

Three Board Quiver This is probably the most common quiver size for an Indo trip and it probably breaks down something like this;

Board #1 - This is going to be your small wave performance or retro style fun board for those days that you don’t really plan for, but you are going to get them

Board#2 - This is your all round or hi-performance board, or a more finely tuned retro style board that will handle quality waves up to head or slightly overhead high

Board#3 - Now depending on your focus, this is either going to be;

  • Another retro style board if that’s your current thing
  • A backup board for your standard glassed all round/hi-performance board
  • A step up/gun board depending on what size waves you’re expecting and what size you’re prepared to take on

If you’re planning on bringing more than 3 boards then your extra board(s) will be one of the 3 options above, depending on what your focus is.

I hope this helps you sort out your boards for your trip to Indo.



Jim Banks is a Cronulla boy at heart. He was red-hot grommet and a huge star-in-the-making in the 1970s and 80s, grabbing the world's attention by beating Mark Richards in his prime. Known as insane tuberider he was totally fearless. After competing as a pro in a couple of comps, he famously ditched it all to become the ultimate tube warrior.

Banks moved to Indonesia and became the explorer of perfect reef breaks and has dedicated his life to the search as well as building amazing, world renowned boards. Jim Banks still lives in Indo. He is soulful, easy going and  still is an unbelievable tube rider; three qualities that allow him to make incredibly well designed and built boards. 

Jim on his 8'0, Photo by Indo Odyssey

Jim on his 8'0, Photo by Indo Odyssey

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