Wednesday, March 26, 2008

What's in a Name: Defending 'Big' in the Modern Age

Last summer the family relocated to some cliffs in Baja for a few weeks. One absolutely windless evening, as the sun began to whisper sweet nothings to the the horizon, my wife handed me the baby, shotgunned a Tecate, and paddled out. I was smitten.
So were the rest of the surfers, dug into their camps and well into their post-surf rituals. Their hoots echoed off the cliff walls as she paddled toward the empty peak in the silvery light, spun, and glided into the first wave that presented itself. She found a high trim line and stuck to it, swooping and gliding all the way to the channel. Hooting ensued. A fellow camper came over to chat.
"Your wife rips."
"What's she riding?"
"Big Fish*."
"How big?"
My new friend scratched at his twelve-day beard. "That's not a fish," he said, squinting into the setting sun.
I could have sworn it was. I shaped it for her, and the order card read, "Big Fish."
"That's a twin-keel funboard," he said. I had never heard of anything so horrifying, and certainly didn't want to claim it when he asked who the shaper was, so I told him it was a Rusty.
He nodded and lit a cigarette. "Typical," he said, then walked back to his camp site.

*The above board is the 'fish' in question.
As teachers on spring break burned out on paper-grading and poorly-formed sandbars, my wife and I have the spent last four days sampling some of Northern California's excellent pointbreaks.
Waves have been scored.
The other day, while watching locals dismantle their gorgeous wave from a safe distance, my wife pointed out that they were all on big boards.
Not guns, mind you, but big boards. Longboards. And this spot is nothing to trifle with, even on an 'average' day. I had trifled with it earlier that day on a 5'11" disc, and I had become intimate with the reef in a way that could have gotten me investigated had the reef been an page and me a member of congress.
The next day we returned, but this time I was equipped with this big-ass 7 foot egg in all of her thick, low-rockered, wide-nosed-and-tailed, flexie-finned wonder:
I've blogged about this board before here. I know it's weird looking.
Long story short, I was enthused. Score another point for big boards.
And score again for das Frankenfish, the 7'9 mutant conceived by Brent, Lagunitas IPA, and standard case of DS squared (Daddy Sleep Deprivation Syndrome).
As per tradition, said surfer waived the glasser-suggested 'curing time' and got to work putting this big quad fish through its paces. But first he put his kid to work polishing her up. Them's resin pinlines, son!
Is it a fish? Who cares? What's in a name? Tell my wife, or passengers on the Frankenfish, or the locals we saw yesterday what defines them or their board, and they could tell you it's not important. They could tell you what is important is the swoop and the glide. The high trim line, the rail-burying bottom turn, the fall down the face, legs burning, heart flying.
But they probably wouldn't. They would most likely just paddle quietly back to the peak and grab another.
Or, if you were my wife, you might pause for a Tecate first.


Anonymous said...

Shaper Dude. I would like to add that a man can also have a memorable (surf) session on "the gayboard", and can still get out of the water with their heterosexuality perfectly intact!

Hansel once said something like; "I just grip it and rip it... that's the way I live." So TRUE!
-Daddy Frank

pushingtide said...

Preach it brotha! I like my small fish, she likes her big fish. It's all fun.

23 Breaths said...

reminds me of the story about the three blind men and the elephant. What is considered a big fish today would have been considered a microdot in the early and mid sixties. Alot of what people think is the right board is what they are told is the right board my the mags and other merchandisers. The right board is the one that works for you. oh and that changes sometimes. good blog

Anonymous said...

Hey there Mr. Murray. Always a pleasure reading the new posts. My fave of the (fucking) millions of blogs I now scratch at while at work. New job at RISD-- pretty sweet. We're here for most of the summer, you guys coming out? Is your daughter coming out yet? Harper can say "hi da!" and that's enough for me. damion

surferbrat said...

My god those are beautiful. Ok. I'm sold. Once my board fund is full I'll be in contact--which isn't that far in the future. I swear. =)

Fatty Fiberglass said...

Oh Please! Get a life. Stop wasting your time writing whimsical nonscents about fairy tale waves and warm tropical days at the beach using SCHOOL PROPERTY and go SHAPE SOME BOARDS you schlep! Frankenfish don't shape themselves while you sit on your couch and punch buttons! Where is your work ethic? Do we need to bribe you with some of those gold chocolate foil wrapped coins that come in little gold net bags that little hairy people like you enjoy? So be it.
I'm old, I'm fat, and I'm going to bed now.

Quiver said...

Sorry to go off topic, but I just discovered your blog here and I couldn't stop working my way backwards through the archives. With all the open minded board shaping going on, when I got to this:
it lead me to wonder if you've ever done a 6'-6'6" single with a bit of tail width ala Buttons mid 70's? I'd be curious to hear how a board like that would go in the Northern Cal overjuiced beachbreak scene.

tres_arboles said...

Funny post. But with high-cred guys like Larry Mabile shaping 8+ foot long fish, you're in pretty good company.

David, Seattle

Deep Deep said...

Hey Teach, I've got a fresh 6'9" "twin keeled funboard" at the glasser right now. Interesting thing is, for the supposed purists, is that it is based on a Frye template.