Friday December 10th 2010
Every now and then I receive an email from a stoked customer letting me know how much he or she likes their new board and I find the feedback to be very helpful. Feedback helps me to solidify my original thoughts on the design of their particular board including the length, width, nose and tail dimensions, rocker, volume, etc. I also have to take into consideration where they will surf the board and the power of the waves in that area. I want the board to match the conditions as closely as possible.
You can imagine my surprise when I received an email with a photo from David Zalatan, a PhD chemist, living in San Diego, and surfing his 5’8”x19.75” Pudge in solid Ocean Beach surf in Northern California. This is a board design that is not meant for those conditions but David had confidence in his board and pushed the design to its limits. Had David ordered a board specifically for that area, it would have been a totally different design than the Pudge and include about a ten inch increase in length.
I love to see surfers push the limits of their equipment and their minds.
David Zalatan showing he has the right formula for mixing plastic and water.
Monday November 8th 2010
Congratulations go out to Kelly Slater for winning his tenth WCT world title; a competitive surfing accomplishment that may never be duplicated or surpassed.
Thursday November 4th 2010
Today Show Video Clip
Sunday August 15th 2010The Boards of Summer
Summer is upon us here in Southern California…well, sort of. It’s August, the air is cool, the marine layer is thick and the water temperature at most San Diego beaches has yet to break the 65 degree mark; this reminds me more of late fall and not summer. Oh well, at least the surf is small.
And speaking of small surf, when it’s knee high or smaller which board are you going to ride? Forget about your narrow, thin, rockered shortboard, that’s going to bog down and force you to perfect your slop hop. How about your longboard? You can drag the old log across the sand, into the water, onto a wave and perch. It all sounds kind of boring to me.
Well fear not, I’ve come to your rescue. With some help from Bird and his incredible collection of over 400 surfboards of various kinds warehoused under one roof, I’ve compiled some ideas and photos of wave riding equipment for you to consider. Not only will these boards increase your fun factor when it comes to gutless waves, they will provide you with a whole new feel for riding those slow rollers. Give one of these designs a try and you’ll be ripping and showing those ankle snappers who’s boss!
Welcome to Bird’s world and over 400 surfboards of every size, shape and condition. If you can’t find a fun to ride board here, you’d better take up bug collecting!
How’s this for a log? An Eckstrom Asymetric; not very pretty but its appearance will frighten everybody out of your way while you catch every wave that moves.
This is a very unusual board, an old Surfboards La Jolla Twin Pin. The hot chicks will definitely check you out as you carry this machine down to the water.
How about a Fish for float, paddle and that shortboard feel… or a Skip Egg?
An MR Twin would be fun; flat deck, full rails, lots of volume. When it’s junkie, MR would go!
I’m not sure what this is but it’s fun…or so I’m told.
These sponges are like a bad smell, they’re everywhere; but lots of fun in funky surf.
Grab the women and children, the Lucha Libre are on the beach!
Lucha Libre affectionados; when they're not in the ring, they are on their sponges.
Sometimes, you show up at the beach, look in the back of your wagon, and run what you brung!
So there you have it, I’ve proven beyond any doubt that there is a board out there for every surfer and every kind of wave. Now get out there and have some fun this summer and enjoy some waves on your “alternative” board while you chant your mantra,“fall’s almost here, winter’s almost here…”
Tuesday March 9th 2010
As a student at UCSB, I always knew that I wanted to study abroad. As a surfer I always knew that I had to go somewhere with warm water and perfect waves. I remember the day that I walked into my academic advisor’s office with two years of Spanish classes under my belt, and an appetite for travel. I told her that I wanted to study in a Spanish speaking country, but that all of the countries offered were in landlocked cities, and that just wouldn’t do. “Why not Brazil?” she asked. Well, maybe she was confused about what I meant by “Spanish speaking country,” but for some reason I was sold.
Its good to know the bus routes when the waves are crackin!
I didn’t know a word of Portuguese, and I knew nothing about Brazil besides the fact that the water is warm and the butts are what put Reef sandals on the map. I had no idea what was in store for me. I landed in Salvador, Bahia in late August and began my journey through one of the most amazing places that I have ever been to. I met my host family on my second day in the tropical city, and I immediately took to enjoying the view from my family’s apartment balcony. I could see the warm Atlantic from my new home, and the waves were calling.
Jungle trekking to the beach in Itacare.
Pondering religion... but not really.
The apartment was right across the street from the best beach break within the city, and I spent countless hours surfing the thick, barreling, semi-closed out walls. I had sessions before class, after class, and in my dreams while I slept. I lived and breathed surfing for the three and a half months that I spent in Brazil. My trusty 5’6’’x 19.75’’ Pudge with a single concave became my best friend in Brazil, and given the fact that I didn’t want to cart around a whole quiver while traveling, it proved to be the perfect shape for most of the conditions that I found in Brazil. I surfed it in everything from ankle high mush burgers, to double overhead thumpers that could grind you into a pulp. I never wanted to ride anything else, so I didn’t, and I’ve been riding roughly the same board ever since. The conditions varied a lot at my beach break from day to day, but I always felt that my board was doing exactly what I wanted to do. One particular day, I woke up and walked across the street to see grinding barrels spitting on the sand at low tide. The waves were mostly closed out, but with a little patience and a lot of luck I found myself at the perfect spot, at the perfect time. A head high set wave lined up just right over the sand bar, and I air dropped a few feet into one of the most square right handers I’ve ever ridden. A long bottom turn got rid of most of my speed, leaving me right under the lip as the tunnel got a little too long to look makeable. I gritted my teeth and held on, and before I knew it, I was getting spat out of one of the best barrels of my life. The whole episode lasted a few seconds, but time felt so slow that every drop of water seemed to be falling at the speed of a feather drifting gently down. I knew that morning that I made the right choice. I may not have gotten the Spanish practice that I wanted, but that’s hardly what you think about when you’re in the heart of a perfect barrel.
Stairway to Brazilian heaven?
City trekkin' to the beach in Copacabana.
Dropping in at Leblon Beach in Rio.
I surfed all over Salvador, made my way down to the epicenter of the Bahian surf scene in Itacare, and finally hopped on a plane to Rio de Janeiro to experience the city, and get a few more waves before returning to the states. The city of Rio was one of the most beautiful places that I could imagine to hang out and surf. I fell in love with the tropical scenery, and the gorgeous white sand beaches where less clothing is worn openly than any other place on earth. I found epic waves, and cheap beers at every turn, leading me to believe that maybe I fell asleep at the airport, and the perfection of my experience in Rio was just a long and beautiful dream. Maybe it was, and maybe I finally woke up when I landed in LAX, and returned to the cold winter water of San Diego. I love my hometown, but the combination of traveling and surfing is like the most addictive drug on the planet, and the withdrawals are just as bad as you’d think. One day I’ll feel that warm Atlantic water, and that hot tropical sun on my face again, but until then I’ll be back at UCSB. I’ll be going to class, and surfing Rincon whenever I can, but I still have the occasional dream in Portuguese, and I still think about that barrel, almost everyday.
Monday February 1st 2010
Ok, I’ll admit that I’m a dinosaur and, with the New Year upon me, that ancient classification is not likely to change…and I feel good about it, proud even. What do dinosaurs and surfboard shapers have in common you ask? Well, over that last twenty years or so, computer controlled shaping machines have taken over the task of shaping your next board, rendering the start-to-finish hand shaper nearly obsolete, verging on extinction. But don’t get me wrong, the computerized shaping machine is here to stay, and has many advantages over the hand shaper with its ability to duplicate a shape over and over with little or no variations. This is very crucial to professional surfers such as Kelly, Mick, Taj and the rest of the Pro Pack when it comes to replacing their favorite buckled 6’2”, especially during a hotly contested heat on the glorious Gold Coast. They know the new one they grab from their caddy will have near identical riding characteristics. The machine also gives you, the passionate everyday surfer, the confidence in the rack board you just purchased, knowing it is identical to the one your favorite pro is riding.
It’s hard for the hand shaper to compete with the machine's credentials but we can get very close. By shaping tens of thousands of boards, paying close attention to measurements and fine details, and keeping accurate records, the hand shaper can not only duplicate good boards, but improve upon them as well. It’s extremely satisfying to hand shape several boards for a surfer over time, with each new board being better than the last.
Now you know what I mean when I refer to myself as a dinosaur; I shape surfboards the old way, completely by hand, using only my trusty hand tools. Have a look at the tools of my trade.
(Click on photos for larger size)
The Skil 100, the hand shaper’s main tool. Easy to modify, easy to control the depth of cut up and down the board, reliable, a real workhorse.
My trusty Surform, basically a modified cheese grater, fits my hand like a glove.
Disk sander, this is my secret weapon; I don’t think I could shape a board without it.
An assortment of tools I use for finish work including full round and curved Surforms.
These are my assorted block planes; the curved, wooden plane is one of my favorites.
Sanding blocks and sand screen, for the flats and curves.
This is the side of my shaping room I work from; tail templates, tools and body templates galore.
No. 2 pencil, this tool closes the deal on every board I shape.
Surfing a new board is exciting whether that board is shaped by hand or machine. And either way, a lot of time, thought and craftsmanship went into that new board to provide fun, stoke and wave riding adventures, that will stay with you your whole life.