Wednesday, 16 March 2016

My Second Board. My Own Design. The "Fishish".

I've finally finished my second board. Lots more mistakes and lots of learning - including the special act of drilling FCS plug holes in the wrong place (and one right through the board!). Black makes it hard to see the stringer/centre line. I had to forget the idea of a trailer fin option! It was a bit of a fancy anyway... I crossed out my mistakes. That's what I was taught to do at school.

It surfs really well. It's basically based on my Bing Dharma, but with pulled-in nose with more rocker and a slightly pulled in tail. Twin fin rather than quad so it's ended up feeling a bit like a Dharma crossed with an MR Twin I think. Yesterday I had the most amazing surf: pink sunset water, brushed head high rights chugging through at Saunton and not many out. Really found the sweet spot for my back foot between the fins thanks to the extra time on the wave that Saunton gives you.

The crucial aspect of this board was trying to copy what I loved about the foil of the Dharma: that is a thin light nose and thickest part of the board behind centre. The Dharma has a lovely balance - I've had more than one board that feel a bit 'front heavy' for me or that simply don't seem to balance nicely under my feet. The Dharma and this board - I'm delighted to say - seem to me to have a good balance. I'm thinking that the foam distribution compared to outline shape is perhaps the most key aspect to shaping a board that feels good.


Wednesday, 10 February 2016

The Eddie 2016

Can't wait to watch "The Eddie" (Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau) this afternoon! On for the first time in six years this event that only takes place when the waves are over 20 ft on the North Shore of Oahu. Eddie Aikau was a big wave surfer and Waimea lifeguard who was tragically lost at sea. The event has only taken place eight times!

Watch it: on the WSL website.
Read about it: on Wikipedia.

Amazing line-up of surfers. The only person missing, as far as I'm concerned, is our own UK big wave surfer Andrew Cotton! Ha ha! #cottywouldgo

UPDATE: Spoke too soon. It's not on today.

Friday, 5 February 2016

Surfboard Design, Fins & Dave Parmenter

One of the hardest things about shaping surfboards yourself is working out what is true and what isn't. It's one thing copying a board you own or copying a familiar design like a Lis Fish. But when you're actually thinking about concaves and fins on a design that is more your own blend - it  takes a lot of reading along with experience of surfing different boards to try to remove the flotsam of received ideas that you've been fed by surfboard ads and popular media.

I really like Dave Parmenter - inventor of the Widowmaker surfboard design and champion of single fins and channel bottoms - who I discovered through Andrew Kidman's movies, especially "Lost in the Ether". He's very articulate, incredibly experienced in terms of both shaping and being an excellent surfer and as interested in deconstructing received ideas as developing his shapes.

The reason I'm writing this now is that I've just read the most marvellous article of his in "The Surfer's Journal" (25.1) called "Must We Burn the Single Blade." Sometimes I wonder why I spend a fortune on "The Surfer's Journal" and every so often an article like this comes along that reminds me. Not only is it nicely written with his usual wit and depth of knowledge (he refers to thruster surfing as surfing you're constantly "starting a lawnmower"!) but in it he describes how the speed that you get from a thruster is actually based on increased drag. That sounds counter-intuitive but what he explains helps you to grasp the fact that the thruster design is about helping you to grip the wave face in order to be able to generate speed by quickly pumping or turning. To me, as someone who hand shapes boards now, that is such a wonderfully key concept - and he describes it beautifully. We often forget the key elements of design by being caught up in the whirlwind and hypnotic detail of contemporary design fashions. It's great to have a voice that calmly reminds you to keep 'right mind'. My Dad used to say that moving to the countryside taught him how to tell the difference between horse-shit and bull-shit. Much thanks to Dave Parmenter for trying to help us with that in surfing.

(I should also mention that I contacted Dave a while back about trying to get hold of some of his Widowmaker fins. Not only did he reply but he took it upon himself to ask about the board they were going to be for and emailed back and forth a few times, volunteering information and advice - I was amazed and delighted that he showed such totally unexpected interest and generosity of his time.)

Tuesday, 15 December 2015

I've Made My First Garage Board (Solo)!

Good grief, so it's come to this! I've copied as closely as possible my 5'4 Tyler Warren (Hobie) "Bar of Soap". Really pleased with the shape, I've managed to get closer than I thought I would with the rocker, foil and rails. There's a slight difference in the nose rocker and I've got a little more volume in mine as I've left a bit more foam by having a flatter, less convex, deck.

My main problem was that I didn't mix enough resin for the first lamination (the bottom). I know it's the first rule "mix more than enough" but I got a bit muddled about quantities - largely because of all this talk of "quarts" on Swaylocks and stuff. Stupid quarts. I only mixed 800mls. I'm on my second board now and I mixed double that!

I hand foiled the fins from marine ply, glassed them on (should've doubled up the rovings because I don't think they were quite thick enough). Made a leash loop because since I wasn't drilling fin plugs I thought it would be nice to not drill anything into the board at all. Also, I simply wanted to try as many techniques as possible to learn as much as I could.

Here's a Flickr gallery with more photographs of the process and showing a comparison of my board to the original "Soap":


Friday, 2 October 2015

This is Getting Seriously Close to Being Real: A Garage Shaper!?! Me?!

I can't believe that buying a surfboard a few short years ago has led to this! I've been working hard to convert a garage into shaping and glassing bays. I've got fins to make... materials to buy... decisions to confront...

Building a Shaping Garage

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Sennen Cove

I really enjoyed surfing Sennen Cove recently. It's amazing how different new beaches feel. It was a bit messy and funky and then as it neared high tide it became clean & fun head high almost beach-break waves. All the kids appeared popping airs and getting covered-up. A really different fun performance vibe from where I've been surfing recently. Maybe it's the tropical looking water?

I enjoyed my 5'4 Tyler Warren "Bar of Soap". Love this board - it's thinner and more lively feeling than you might think. A bit of a bugger to paddle but really, really fun on a nice clean wave, steep or not. It does prefer clean waves though. Chop tends to throw it off its game. It's no 3" thick Mini-Simmons floater-bloater that's for sure!

Sunday, 13 September 2015

Making a Shaping Rack

This little Flickr gallery shows how I've made myself a shaping rack. Hope it works! I used wood I'd found in the garage so a lot cheaper than buying expensive metal ones online. Still got my Mum's empty garage to convert though so there's lots to do. Hope I'll be buying a blank before too long! Making My Shaping Rack This surfing journey is becoming more than I expected!

Thursday, 27 August 2015

I've Made My First Surfboard


This is very exciting!!! A whole new step along the path to, well, I guess my whole life being absorbed by what started out as a dip in the water a few years ago. (Actually, I've labelled this board "Number 0.5" as it's not really my first because I made it under instruction.)

I went down to visit Chris Hartop of Lovefoam and he showed me how to do it at his workshop. I'd highly recommend it if you've ever had an inkling that you'd like to make a board. The main think is that I've ended up with a board that I want to surf and DO enjoy surfing. It's not a 'first board shocker' pre-prepared for the local tip! (Focussed on the foil not being too thick.)

I took the measurements of a Lis Fish and compared them with my Bing Dharma and the Skip Frye fish discussed by Andrew Kidman in his recent Surfer's Journal article. Basically ending up with a fish with 12" between the pins and a slightly pulled in nose.

I've started clearing my Mum's garage... uh oh!

Friday, 21 August 2015

Stoke Is...

...seeing your daughter catch the first little wave ever surfed on the first surfboard you've made yourself!

Thursday, 19 March 2015

I Like the Silver Colour of Winter Surfing

Just took a few photos of people enjoying the waves at Croyde on Mothering Sunday. Instead of surfing I was cooking lunch and then walking to Baggy Point. I didn't mind though - I've just been discovering the joys of a good swell at Saunton combined with my 6'6 Archie's Left. Plenty of nice clean waves last week basically and a promising few days to come. Nice, joyous waves, after a frustratingly dark winter of paddling through tons of work rather than surfing.

Monday, 26 January 2015

A Rare Photo of Me Surfing

Ben Barnes took this photo of me near Woolacombe - he did well managing to get a few snaps after the drop before the waves closed out on me! They were breaking too fast at the shit pipe the other day. He'll take photos of you surfing for a few quid. Get in touch with him via Facebook here >>

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Heavy Cotton

It struck me while watching this how insane this all is. I wonder if I'm going to get a good wave when I go for a surf, but I travel a handful of miles and go for 15 to 30 waves in a session I suppose. I think it's a bit far to go down the coast and nervously explore an unfamiliar break. Andrew Cotton (like other big wave surfers) plan a few days ahead, travel to different countries and all in the hope that they might find that one significant ride. (Not to mention the fact that he's doing this coming from Devon when most big wave surfers will come from Hawaii, California, Australia or other places blessed with grand local surf.)

I mean - how hard do you want to make it? How unlikely and how much of the whole experience gets shifted into the framework of logistics, travel, preparation and training? Cotty deserves his own biographical movie. He's a compelling surfer and as a person is achieving amazing things considering he wasn't born near a world class surf break. He looked so bloody happy chatting after that amazing left - you could see the joy of all that preparation, gambling, risk and hope paying off with a ride he deserved to find.

Super film and editing work by Mikey Corker to bring these adventures home to us too.