Social distancing. Mask mandates. Lockdowns. Stay at home orders. A few months into 2020 it became clear that it would be a year like no other as Covid-19 became a global pandemic that nearly brought the world to a halt. Restaurants, bars, movie theaters, and non-essential businesses were forced to close. Concerts, festivals, and sporting events were canceled. Cruise passengers were placed in limbo, quarantined on their ships for weeks while cruise lines tried to find a location that would allow their ships to dock, as many countries closed their ports and refused to let passengers disembark. Panicked shoppers stripped grocery store shelves of paper towels, toilet paper, and cleaning products.
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As many businesses struggled, others flourished. The pandemic was a boon to grocery delivery services as people avoided going out in public to limit their potential exposure to the virus. Home improvement stores saw sales rise when consumers repurposed money set aside from canceled vacations. Parks and green spaces saw record visitations, and solo sports like surfing rose in popularity.
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Why surfing? Surfing easily accommodated social distancing. FCS 2 fin system users and nonusers saw it as an escape from being confined to the house. Many weekend warriors and die-hard wave riders working from home, free of the daily commute, had more spare time to pursue their hobbies or to start a new hobby. As the pandemic stretched into spring then summer, so did the levels of anxiety, stress, and depression. And mental health professionals encouraged people to go outside. Numerous studies show being outside in nature has a positive effect on mental health.
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The surge in surfing’s popularity also brought about an uptick in sales of new surfboards. Unused funds from canceled vacations and the “stimulus” money sent out by some governments spurred spending on “wants.” Some surfers outfitted themselves with new accessories, like leashes and wetsuits. Others bought new boards with FCS ii fin systems. As a result, board manufacturers saw a sharp increase in orders. “If you’re Waiting for a Custom Surfboard Order, Get Ready to Keep on Waiting” proclaimed one article on the web. “In a Year Riddled with Uncertainty, We Bought More Boards than Ever” declared another. “How the Surfing Industry Has Experienced Both Boom and Bust During the Pandemic,” said a third article.
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Demand was suddenly outpacing supply. Board manufacturers, using the FCS 2 fin system, as well as other fin systems, had trouble meeting this need. Many board makers, from small customizers to large factories, whether they use the FCS ii or another fin system, saw huge backlogs in materials as the end of 2020 loomed. It was common as early as October to be told orders wouldn’t arrive until after the start of the new year.
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As the summer of 2021 approaches and we begin seeing the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel, we don’t yet know what the new normal will be. But we do know that waves will still break, and surfers will continue to seek out the perfect wave for an epic ride.