Lets say your at your local break. Waves are small summer surf 3footers. Crumbling mush lets say. Your local "beginners/intermediate/couple of advanced" skilled surfers are have some success on their fishes and funboards, etc. Lets say Kelly Slater shows up (or another fantasy pro surfer of choice) without any board. He wants to surf but has to borrow a 1980's style shortboard, thin not very good at all for the conditions. Does Kelly still run circles around the other locals on better equipment or does even a pro surfer struggle to do anything with subpar or wrong equipment for the conditions? Can you hand a pro any old floatation device in the resemblance of a surfboard and they'll go out and look great on it compared to average shmucks surfing on ideal equipment?
If never thought about this from a surfing perspective but I used to think about it all of the time in golf. If you give Tiger Woods a 1950's set of beatup yard sale golf clubs and a driving range ball, could he play better than me (or any average hack-golfer) if I got to use his hi-tech clubs and titanium balls? I always assumed that Tiger would still crush me by 20 strokes.