Saturday, December 29, 2007

X-mas in Conn-X-ticut

(The above picture was not taken with black and white film. New England really looks like this.)
The old lady and I just got back from New England, and I feel I owe the entire region an apology. In the past, I'd refer to New Englanders as grumpy. Or worse. I was convinced that an unfortunate stew of adverse weather conditions, lingering Puritan ideologies, and a lack of good Mexican food produced bad attitudes.
During our visit we didn't see anything even resembling the sun for ten days. At one point, it was raining, snowing, and ice was falling from the sky. It was as if some monster-god was fishing around in a bucket of Hate, then hurling its contents by the fistful toward the helpless earth below.
During this time I wore a hat indoors and took two showers a day just to warm up. I went outside exactly one time, and that was to snap the above picture of a neighbor's house because I was convinced this was a bad dream and I wanted proof. Grumpy.
Yet the New Englanders marched toward their appalling fates with glee. They stuffed plastic bags into their boots, grabbed shovels, and went to work--mid storm--before the falling temps turned their driveways into luge runs.
My four-year-old niece woke up early (snowing. Raining. Hailing) every morning, ventured outside in the dark in an oversized snowsuit, then reappeared several hours later soaking wet, a giant grin stretched across her chapped, blue lips.
Now we're back and north swells are stacking up for what looks like weeks of fun. Happy New Year!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

K.I.S.S. (Keep It Single, Santa)

I get bored looking at shaping room pictures. Everything looks great in a shaping room picture. Something about the side lighting, the foam dust settling onto your lungs, the a.m. radio crackling out classic Merle Haggard tunes...
A few weeks ago, I tried to sell an old couch on craigslist. Granted, it was not a pretty couch. It was not not a new couch. It was not a couch free of dog hair.
No takers.
An idea struck: I'll prop that couch up on my shaping racks, as everything looks great in a shaping room picture.
I posted the new pics, then sat back and waited.
The couch was picked up less than thirty minutes later by a stoked Sonoma State student who not only gave me the asking price in cash, but threw in a forty of MGD. Now that's business!
Since then, I've taken to propping up all sorts of things on the shaping room racks in order to enhance their aesthetics, if only for a moment. Taking my new discovery to its logical extensions, I began to photograph some elements in my life that need a bit of sprucing up, via the shaping room. Here are a few examples with their results:
1. My mom. She looked great, though a little dandruffy after a few minutes. Christmas card quality.
2. The interior of my wife's minivan. This made us both feel better. The sidelights obscured the Cheerio army camped under the baby seat, and brought a pleasing glow to the Diet Pepsi can pile.
3. My abs. Things haven't been going well for my abs lately. Propped up on the shaping racks, though, everything looked different. Recommended.
Soon, however, boredom set in, so here are some shots from the kitchen. If all goes well, I might shoot some new board pictures in other rooms. Perhaps I could feature boards in various states of repose on furniture, preparing a delicious meal, or even a few tasteful boudoir shots...
In the meantime, here's a 6'6 single fin for my buddy Tripp. Sleek as a tuna, fully modernized bottom contours, tuned-in rails and rocker, a single wing pulling in to a pin tail--this Flying Saucer has Clean Ocean Beach written all over it.

The Rusty Flex fin is the icing on this Christmassy cake. It heads up to the Fattyshack next week for a full spa treatment--all-over board tint, racing stripe, and gloss-and-polish finish.
Happy Holidays.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

The Perfect Sandwich

Start with one newly-polished slice of coke-bottle tinted longboard deck.
Slowly add (might want to ask the kids to leave the room at this point) Neil Diamond's 1973 Hot August Nights album cover. It won a Grammy, so you know it's good.
Do not substitute other celebrated 1973 albums, such as Carly Simon's No Secrets or David Cassidy's ironically titled, Rock Me Baby.
In a pinch, The Who's Quadraphenia or Stevie Wonder's Innervisions will do.
Top with another slice of coke-bottle longboard deck from a different angle, this one highlighting what appears to be a dirty tailblock. I don't know what's on the floor of Fatty's shop, but I suggest wearing shoes.

Monday, December 3, 2007

Winterfish Redux

Have you seen this? The Bodega Bay Buoy (Station 46013) calls the direction of this humongous swell "WSW."
I call it "Whatever, I'm Heading to a South-Facing Beach." The problem is, south facing beaches will probably be maxed out, too.
But since our station is to persevere, we have to forge onward. And we have to forge with the right stick.
The right stick for me is the above pictured 6'1" Winterfish.
I'm not quite ready to hang up the 5'8" quad fish (see my "Love Affair With The Quad Fish" post) just yet, but neither am I stoked to paddle her into double overhead, heaving shorepound.
Enter the Winterfish, a board I'm excited to paddle into double overhead, heaving shorepound (see my "Lies I've Told on my Blog" post).
This board is pulled in at the nose and tail. It's a quad, so it sticks to the face of a steep wave like something that's very sticky. It's got a single wing. It's got shortboard volume and rocker, but it's EPS, so it floats like a thicker board. This one is 6'1".
I am not even close to being 6'1", though I sport freakishly long arms.
The Winterfish and the dog enjoy spending time on the Persian rug. The dog seems a bit perturbed by the surfboard. The surfboard, however, rests quietly without judgment--a model of Zen calm.
Take care if you paddle out this week.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Egg White: Gratuitous Shaping Room Shots

I once made the mistake of referring to my shaping shack as a 'studio.' My buddy Kev called me on it. Now, It's just the Shop.
Here are a few pics of a 6'10 egg in the Shop. The photo above is looking from tail to nose, the opposite below. Template is definitely hull-like with the abundance of curves, but the rocker and bottom contours are geared more toward beachbreak maneuverability. This one's going to be a 2+1 fin setup, but they're great as 4+1s, too (quad plus center box).
The egg is an essential addition to the ego (evening glass off) series, designed for late-in-the-day goodness. You're surfed out, noodle-armed, but may have one or two left in you. As the sun drops, you paddle once for a glassy peeler. You glide in effortlessly, rise up toward the lip and realize you may have the strength for a few more...

Deep in my subconsciousness lies an old crusty bastard who demands all eggs be ridden as single fins. He shakes his head in disappointment as I mark out the rail fins, then retreats to his corner of the Shop (which, incidentally, is the corner with the sixer of lukewarm Tecate). He wears tight corduroy shorts and gym socks. He has flecks of Tecate foam in his chest hair. He is displeased.
Closer to the surface, the younger student of fine-tuned shredability forces a chuckle and marks out a center box, too, just in case. The crusty bastard cracks a fresh one. He nods. He is pleased.

Here's a shot of our T-Giving setup at SanO. Not a lot happening wave-wise, but it proved to be a rich field of stoke and fun times. Snuggled deep in the hammock is my beautiful daughter, nine months old, dreaming good baby dreams. You probably can't tell from this angle, but she has some new teeth coming in on top.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Toro! Toro!

The El Toro! is strong like bull. It's frickin' heavy like bull, too--this one has a lot of volan on the top, and a lot of volan on the bottom.
Stripes are foam stain, blank is Walker, and fin is from Rainbow Fin Co. The catalog calls the fin, in an industry-rare moment of understatement, "Skeg."
The blank has a unique history: ordered in a post-Clark frenzy, arrived in NorCal almost a year later, traveled down to Santa Cruz to await machine-shaping, rescued, shaped in Sonoma County, brought back up to Mendocino County last month for glassing (where it's going to stay). Hopefully, it will see more time in the water than it did on the road.
This shot makes its butt look big, despite the slimming presence of stripes.
Supertanker skeg.
We're headed to San Onofre for Thanksgiving, so give a shout if you see a bunch of bearded NorCal dirtbags (and a baby!) drinking lukewarm Tecate and cooking a turkey on the beach.
Happy Thanksgiving!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

A Coke-Bottle and a Smile

Happens every year: winter dips its icy toe into our north Pacific waters, stirs it around a bit, and nods its head--it's time.
Then, much like our beleaguered president, summer speaks up and claims itself "still relevant." We get a fun blast of late-season south swell, play like dolphins for days, then put away our summer boards, still wet, with smiles on our faces.
Some among us, however, refuse to believe that it's over. These nonbelievers carefully rinse out their 4/3 (or even 3/2!) wetsuits and hang them up to dry in the waning, anemic sunlight. They pretend it's not frost they're scraping off their windshields in the morning, just excrement from some summery bug inhabiting the tree above their parking space. That it's not woodsmoke pouring forth from their neighbors' chimneys at night, just an unfortunate draft from their backyard BBQ.
And they order fishes in November.
Nathan is one of these people. Delusional. He's been known to paddle his quad fish into some serious winter surf, and then carve some serious lines. So serious, in fact, that those watching will unconsciously wish they chose their sandals instead of their Uggs. They'll check their watches and believe, just for a moment, that it's not going to get dark until 9pm, and they still have plenty of time to stop by the store to pick up some shrimp for the grill...

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Gun, Germs, and Steel (without the germs and steel)

Gun. The name says it all: sleek, beautiful, dangerous. Guns have shaped both American and Surf histories, and to plant your feet onto one is to play footsie with ghosts and legends.
Or maybe to plant your feet on one is to scare the shit out of yourself, loved-ones, and healthcare providers.
The Lotsa gun features a host of lotsas: lotsa rocker, lotsa curves, and lotsa balls required to ride it. In fact, I recommend riders sport at least a third ball to ride these, possibly a fourth as a 'replacement set' (for female riders, 'chutzpa' is an acceptable substitution for balls, as is the bit outdated 'moxie,' the international-flavored 'verve,' or the clinical/metaphorical 'nards'). Potential customers need a notarized note from their physician attesting to the presence of additional testes or female equivalent.

This 8'4" is designed for outer bar Ocean Beach. I have nightmares about inner bar OB, so I can't even imagine the mental fortitude required to even wax this thing, which the rider has already done. I added the wooden tailblock for spiritual sustenance, as it was blessed by a rabbi (actually, another Jewish guy on my block, but still).
The simplicity of the clear glass job with double pinlines and darts reminds of of what's really going on here: man or woman. Ocean. Extra balls or equivalent.
Hard to imagine needing it this week with all the summery-ness going on here--south swells and blue skies!

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Two Egg Omelette

When Fatty's feeling saucy, she slaps her logo over mine on shop (not custom) boards. When I call her on it, she says, "Dude, it's just a pool toy."
Once I brought her a shaped blank with a light fingernail scratch on the rail, a blemish I was sure would never be visible once glassed. The order card called for a purple tint. The tide was draining, the sun was shining, and I was in a rush to drop off the board and get to the break.
She handed me a sanding screen and told me I could surf once the board was perfect.
"Dude," I tried, "it's just a pool toy." My logic, I was convinced, was ironclad.
She raised her eyebrows and gave me The Look.
I took the screen and went to work.
I love Fatty.
Anyhoo, these shop eggs (both 6') are a little more svelte than traditional eggs, with widepoints around 20.5" to keep things real in beachbreak surf. There's some junk under the hood, too (does that even make sense?), so they're snappy and responsive. Not your father's egg (unless your father has a contemporary egg that gets the job done). Spiral Vee bottoms and crisp edges.
The yellow tint gets the Pez-tinted quad fins by Rainbow Fin Co.
Looks like Easter.
The light blue tint (Fatty calls the bottom color 'lighter than ice') features a single wing and a 2+1 setup. Glide of a single fin with the snap of a tri fin. If you squint just right, the butterfly patch makes itself available to you. If you squint even harder, I've been told, Dick Cheney's visage appears, as if from a dream. Maybe it's just the polish job, but his glistening pate does look better in blue...

Monday, October 29, 2007

The 'ol Switcheroo

Conditions were perfect for some fin testing this weekend--swell was small and clean (weird), wind was non existent (really weird), and my wife volunteered her 7' EPS egg while she watched the baby (bizarre). The board, a modified displacement hull template with low rocker, is a great platform for fin testing, and I got to surf a variety of fin combos in a variety of tides.
Saturday's lower morning tide called for the 2+1 setup, with a 7" flexible fin in the center. Not enough power to really feel the fin, but the combo held in on the steeper faces, and was really stable during late takeoffs. Stoked to try this out in some bigger surf.
As the tide filled the Spitfire single was the call. The template and thick foil make it virtually drag-free (you can feel a big difference on the paddle-out alone), but it's surprisingly fast, stable, and drivey. Rekindled my love for single fins (it's been at least month since I last declared my love for singles. Sorry, singles!).
The swell dropped a bit for Sunday, but conditions were still clean and glassy. Started off with a Wil Jobson Twinzer-inspired setup (no pictures, as the coffee had eroded whatever attention span I have left), which was fast as hell and held in nicely.
The call of the day, however, proved to be twin-with-a-trailer setup (1+2?). Kept the rear Lokbox twinzer fins in and added a small stabilizer in the back of the box. Fast, slippery fun with a lot of drive.
I like surfing on the edge of control--mostly because that's the only way I can surf--and this combo kept things interesting for a few hours. Found a peak all to myself and let her rip.
Still stoked thinking about it--made this overcast, cold day away from the coast that much more bearable.
Note on the board: Ordered this one with a 'clear' glass job, but Fatty wanted none of that. Check out her 'hourglass' lap line on the bottom, which adds strength to the boxes and is very slimming...

Friday, October 26, 2007

It's Always Summer Somewhere...

Just added a couple of fishes to the queue up at the FattyShack. The traditional outline on top (5'8") is scheduled for a coke-bottle tint, while the biggun' underneath (6'9") will have some orange/mango flavoring.
They both look like they could fly, but this one actually has wings!

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Red Shred Sled

Lil' Red is safely under the feet of a local Northbay ripper. It's hard to get this color right but, as per usual, Leslie nailed it. Matched the resin leash loop color as well.
Sorry for the quality of the pics--snapped these in full-blown cell phone excitement.
Four fins and a single bump fit nicely into steep faces, and, if you squint, you can make out the bottom lap line and butterfly patch.

Diamond-tipped pinline...

We're safely out of harm's way up here north of the Bridge, but our thoughts and prayers are with those down south who are in the midst of a disaster that boggles the mind. Good Luck.

Monday, October 22, 2007

The WinterFish Solution

One of our local breaks poses an interesting challenge for both surfers and shapers--it's a beachbreak with an abrupt ledge, so it is often powerful. The paddle out almost always sucks--long and bitchy. The peaks also shift with every nuance of tide, wind, and swell direction, so the one you're surfing solo might disappear, then reappear in a crowd of local shredders. Sometimes, it's mushy and fat.
Contemporary shortboards work well for surfing the wave, but getting out and chasing peaks require something with a bit more paddle power--especially if you're wearing a lot of rubber, have a hard time resisting work donuts, and not getting any younger.
I've come close with a number of designs over the years, but it hasn't stopped me from tinkering...
I'm hoping the latest incarnation of the WinterFish will do the trick.
It's got a pulled in nose, widepoint forward, lots of curve through the midsection due to the narrower tail and single flyer, more entry rocker and exit than standard fishes, and more of a shortboard foil.
Bottom contours are tuned to my favorite quad setups (it's a quad!).
Marko EPS.
It's on the glassing rack right now, awaiting Fatty's magical habits (I'm putting the squeeze on her to finish this one fast. She responds well to Russian River pinot noirs, Tejava tea, and strawberry mochi).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Two Boards, Nine Fins

Is it possible to get skunked when the Bodega Bay Buoy reads 11.5 feet at 17 seconds and there's no wind to speak of?
It is when you live in Sonoma County!
Soupy, warbly, chest high close-out slop at a local beachbreak. Had to make a tough call between the EPS quad fish and the Campbell Brothers Bonzer inspired High Five (named for its ability to hold a high line and its plentitude of fins). Ended up with the five finner. Why? Well, at times I think my love for the quad fish is too great--an exclusive relationship bordering on the psychotic. It's good to get some distance every once in a while.
Turned out the High Five was the right call--fast and fun in some god-awful surf.

Powder blue full board tint with some fine double pinlines. Looks like prom, circa 1978.

Much like prom, I didn't score, came home early, and screwed around on the computer for a while.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Fish 'n Egg

An egg and a fish to get the ball rolling. The egg is a 6'0 quad with a coffee-'n-cream full board tint, and the 5'10" keel fin is a crazy Fatty concoction of foam stains, swirls, and pinlines. Both feature Lokbox finboxes. Bitchin.
The little round pin handles waves in the overhead range surprisingly well--not a mushbuster*
*Board is also an excellent mushbuster.