Thursday, December 25, 2014

The Executive at Rest

Winter rains be damned, Spencer split from his mountain hideout and headed Down South in search of shreddables. What'd he pack?
A lighter gauge of neoprene, a fresh bar of wax, and brand-spankin new Executive.
Way back when, I proclaimed the Executive would only come in two lengths, would only feature three stringers, and would only have a glass-on fin. In short, I was gonna make these sleds the way I wanted to, and you were going to shut up and ride them.
Well, I say lots of stuff, people. Exhibit A: in 1991 I claimed I would never tire of the Spin Doctors' Pocket Full of Kryptonite album. Need I say more?
Spencer's Executive is 9'3ish.
Mid glassing: full volan wrap, tailpatch, lovely redwood stringer. Waiting for a fin.
All shined up and ocean ready.
 The Executive's my interpretation of a mid '60s Hobie Phil Edwards model--clean, classy, and stylish wide-point back trim machines.
Many of the features (rocker, rails, foil) have been modernized and adapted for our steep beachies, but the mojo remains.

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Of Jamestown, Noseriders, and Beaujolais Nouveau

The word itself inspires a Pavlovian response. And why not? It’s about food, for chrissakes.
The true story of Thanksgiving isn’t rooted in family, or sharing, or even celebrating the bounty of America (whatever the hell that means). It’s about not starving, and it goes like this:
During the mad scramble for ‘New World’ wealth and resources in the early 17th century, Spain and England squared off to expand their empires. Spain scored gold in South America, and England hoped to repeat that success in North America. The Virginia Company, named after the ‘virgin’ Queen Elizabeth I, was hastily thrown together with the following plan: go to America. Get gold. Send it back to their shareholders in England. Also, kill any Spaniards you see.
Chris is scoring some of his own gold this Thanksgiving
Plymouth, Massachusetts was not the site of the first--or even second--English colony in North America. The first was Virginia’s ‘lost colony’, which, as you can tell by their name, did not end well.
The second was the Virginia Company, who landed in Jamestown in 1607.
Why? Well, they missed their intended destination, but whatever, they were in the New World. Problem was, they posted up on an island in the James River, which was basically a brackish malarial swamp unsuitable for farming or, really, human habitation.
It did provide an excellent outpost to protect from Spanish invasion, so there was that. The Spanish never invaded, though, so there was that, too.
Seventy-five percent of the colonists died in the first two years. Why? First, their geography was not good for farming and drinking water and such. Second, the Algonquins didn’t like them, and sometimes killed them. Contrary to popular belief, the Native Americans weren’t roving bands of hostile nomads, they had established communities up and down the coastal east coast with established trade routes and everything. They had it dialed. Know who didn’t? The Virginia Company, who, two years after they arrived entered what they called the ‘Starving Time’, which doesn’t really need further explication.
First they ate their livestock and pets. Then mice and rats. Then they ate their belts and shoes. They sucked the starch off of their shirt collars. They dug up the graves of their fallen and ate them. And then the cannibalism.
No judgement—times were tough.
Sixty of the original five-hundred survived.
Then, in June of 1610, help arrived in the form of another English ship carrying food supplies. Just in time, too, as they described the Jamestown colonists as, “Shrunk down almost to the skeleton, resembling corpses held upright by marionette strings.”
The sixty remaining colonists were saved, and decided to commemorate their lack-of-starving-to-death by eating some life-saving food. Hence, Thanksgiving.
So there you have it. No funny hats and shoes (they’d already eaten those). No sharing with the indigenous peoples (who didn't think they'd survive much longer, anyway). 458 miles from Plymouth Rock.
It was about food. And it is still about food.
So eat up on Thanksgiving, then go out for a surf—it’s good for digestion, meditation, and fun times. Things those in the Virginia Company didn't have the opportunity to enjoy.
Chris will be surfing his new Thanksgiving 9’5 noserider. I could say something here about his feasting on waves with it, or giving thanks to the bounties of the ocean (whatever the hell that means) or, even worse, gobbling up pointbreak peelers while perched on the nose, but I'll hold back and just wish you a peaceful holiday.
Suggested pairing: All Thanksgiving boards should be paired with a Beaujolais Nouveau. This shit was still on the vine, like, six weeks ago! If wine snobs tell you that Beaujolais Nouveau isn't worth drinking, then they've never gotten a good buzz off the stuff and then made out with someone. Recommended.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Of Broadswords, Treehouses, Rum, and Poor Photography


7'10 Broadsword for Brian, a local acolyte of shred, treehouses, and mindblowing single-malt rum.
Super rich coke-bottle green tint by the new guy at Almar. Fins courtesy of Rainbow Fin Co. Cedar stringer produced by the earth.
As a note of personal defense, even JP at Surfy Surfy, the guy who takes more pictures of surfboards than any other human being who has ever lived, admits it's hard to take pictures of surfboards.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Smoke This

I like it when they go from this:

To this:
To this!

Deep blue 7'6 Bonzer for local shred-and-jazz enthusiast Guitar Jim.
This is the Cigar Volant model--a hi-pro, beachbreak shreddy egg that rocks anywhere from one to five fins with joy in its sweet, foamy heart.
Resin cigar bands really tie the board/concept together.
Lotta junk in the trunk on this one.
The feels that laminators, sanders, and polishers get in their guts when they see a bonzer with e-wings and glassons come through the production line is completely canceled by the feeling the surfer gets when laying into their first fingertip-dragging, rail-burying, fully-involved bottom turn on a head-high wave. Value added!

Friday, October 10, 2014

Nice Pair

What's red and green and shiny all over?
This sweet, shiny set of Bronsons headed for the newly-minted SEALS Watersports right here in downtown Santa Rosa.
SEALS, formerly Pinnacle Dive Center, is a one-stop shop for the Northern California waterman/waterwoman. Dive, fish, spear, surf, the whole deal.
Here's how I describe the Bronson on the website: the Bronson is a rounded-bottom trim machine good for all conditions and waves up to a bit overhead. Like it's namesake, the Bronson is classy and versatile and looks good with its shirt off.
The deep, deep red opaque is a rounded-pin 2+1 measuring in at 8'9".
Because 8'9 has been scientifically proven to be fuggin rad!
It should cook from knee to overhead.
The coke-bottle green Bronson is a 9'2" single fin. Gets the job done with flair in just about any condition you can imagine that doesn't require an inflatable vest or serious breath-holding skills.
Technically a double stringer: one basswood, one redwood. Ebony and ivory. Chocolate and peanut butter. George and Wheezy. Together forever.
Handshaped in Sonoma County. Color lamination, sand, and polish work by the good, dusty folks at Almar Surf Works in Santa Cruz.
Zeke's got a good command of the surfier selections at SEALS. Stop by and chat him up. If he looks tired, it's because he has more small children than you, and one of them's going through a hitting stage. Maybe bring him a chai latte to help out?
SEALS. Physically here: 2112 Armory Drive in Rosa
Electronically here:
Facebookally here:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Of MiniSims, William Butler Yeats, and Fruta

Early fall is the best of times, and it is the worst of times. The best of times because it’s amazing. The worst because the pool is going to close soon--where the hell am I supposed to get $2 MGD drafts and $1 microwaved hottogs between now and May 1st?
Also, a house on my street burned down. Not good. 
Also, we got hammered with an early season winter swell. Good. 
Also, it rained. Weird, as it hasn’t done this for a few years, as far as I can remember.
In his oft-quoted poem The Second Coming, William Butler Yeats wrote, 'the center cannot hold,' in reference to some kind of global event (his interpretation of a global event is not a rosy one). Over the years, I've repositioned my thinking on this one. Not to challenge Yeats, but I think the center is the thing that holds us in difficult times. The center is, well, the center. The core. The strongest part of our selves. The outside may crumble off like decaying bark, but inside, at the core, there’s still bright, fresh wood.
This morning I woke up my five-year-old, who was in the throes of a dream. “You were in my dream,” she said, sleepily. “Only it was just half you.”
“What was my other half?” I asked.
“You were half man, half strawberry,” she stated.
"Which half was strawberry?" I asked solemnly.
"Whatever," she said, then rolled over and fell back asleep.
I liked her response. It was correct: it didn’t matter if I was a strawberry with arms and legs and a human head, or if I was a human torso with a strawberry head, or whatever. The point was that it was me but not me, but underneath it it was me.
There’s an essence to things, an inside we can feel but not see. The center, and it is strong. It can hold. The details aren’t important—arms, legs, seeds, a stem, whatever.
What’s this got to do with Woodworker Dan’s new 5’4 MiniSims? Not a goddamn thing, that’s what. But not everything has to connect. Sometimes the great world spins and it lands us on a pair of snake eyes and we get the prize. Sometimes the great world spins and our neighbor’s house burns down and a long-period groundswell graces our shores and your boss gets a new car.
Sometimes it spins and spins and we tuck into a clean section of wave on a freshly-minted slab of foam  with two fins and suddenly we’re spinning, too, and when we stop we’re half strawberry and could use a strong cup of coffee.
What I’m saying is: we lost our third hockey game of the season 7-0 last night, and I’m sad this morning.

Know who’s not sad?
Woodworker Dan! He’s got some fresh foam and a new punch on his sandwich card. He's got a great wife and a great kid and is the source of many of the tailblock woods you've been admiring for years. He's got two earrings in his left ear (!), so you know he shreds.
Speaking of sandwich cards, I would like to take this moment to remind you that I care about you. Because of this, I’m offering yet ANOTHER choice on your punch card. In addition to Ike’s incredible lunch sandwiches, and Devil’s Teeth incredible breakfast sandwiches, you now have the choice of redeeming your punch card at Fruta, Sonoma County's own Michoacan-style ice cream shop (Michoacana palateria y neveria), after a mere five punches. 
!Dios mio!
Because of the incontestable goodness of Fruta, I can no longer say the following words in my house, lest my girls go apeshit: Fruta, fruta, Fruit, Froot, Ice cream, Michoacan, neveria, Phineas and Ferb, Taylor Swift, dessert.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Orange Boss

Orange Boss: not John Boehner, but another punch for Chad's sandwich card.
Dude's getting close to an Ike's. You know me, I'm no betting man, but if I were I'd say he'd be all over a Jaymee Sirewich--fried chicken, yellow BBQ sauce, ranch, pepper jack, non-mouth-ruining Dutch crunch. What?!?
Chad knows a few things. How to manufacture an iron grate for subterranean pork roasting. How to convert energy from the sun to power your home. How to climb steep granite. How to shred steep waves, bounce back quickly from nose-into-the-board smashes, rescue a good dog, marry a nice lady.

This is Chad's brand-spanking new 6'6 Pitboss, all cured and ready for fall-into-winter ground-swell shredding.
The PitBoss is no Jaymee Sirewich, but it is a step-up design meant for steeper, punchier waves. It's got some volume under the chest, because steeper, punchier waves worth surfing tend to not break on the shore up here. So you need to paddle to them. Sometimes pretty far. Sometimes you need to be able to lift your head up as high as you can when you're paddling to see over the 'bump' in front of you to the 'wave' behind it.
Sometimes you wish you hadn't seen the wave behind it, and were instead on your couch with a dram of Kilchoman bingewatching Quickdraw on Hulu.
This one's a quad. And a thruster.
The deep orange palette is Chad's nice-lady approved.
 Round pintail is standard on these mofos. I've done a few baby swallows, but they look weird to me. And sharp.
Just the hint of a beak nose--not enough beak to affect the ride, just an aesthetic nod to the larger-wave shredders and shapers who came before us. Bigger-wave riding has a history of folks with large balls and large ladyballs, and does not include me.
Top notch resin colowork from Almar in Santa Cruz, fins from Rainbow in Watsonville, foam from US Blanks in Gardenia. California is awesome.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Executive Order

Good Lord, the shit's been busy lately. Trips in all compass directions and altitudes. Earthquakes. Two-wheeler-and-ice-cream adventures. Storm tracks and hurricanes and back-to-school sweats and shorter days and the first hints of the miraculous golden light of fall.
And through this, of course, the waves keep coming. Cold ones and warm ones and sharp pointy ones and slow thick ones that spread themselves over the reefs and sandbars like peanut butter.
And people want to ride on these waves on surfboards, and those boards have to be shaped. And the great, watery world keeps on spinning.
Speaking of shaped boards, here's Brent's new Executive (9'10), with insane artwork by local shredder/artist Blair Tom. If you've been to Bolinas, or if you're cool, you're familiar with Blair's work. You can dig deeper into Blair's creations, inspired by the first nations of the Pacific Northwest, HERE.

If you've surfed Bodega Bay, you're familiar with Brent, who catches lots of waves. If you're really familiar with Brent, you've learned to seek a second opinion when he texts, IT'S TOTALLY EPIC! GET TO S____N RIGHT NOW AND BLAST IT!!!!!!

His new stick, The Executive, is my interpretation of the Hobie Phile Edwards model (seen HERE), in a contemporary Northern California beachbreak setting.
Its standard features--triple stringer, glass-on fin, rounded pintail, pulled nose, slightly rolled entry to a panel vee off the tail--inspire Edwards-stile trim, glide, and mojo. The updated rocker, foil, and rails, however, give it the goods in juicier surf.
One might ask, Does it noseride?
To which the Executive would reply, Who gives a F*&c? Leave the obsessive, terrier-like running-to-the-nose to the young whippersnappers, and instead focus on the sweet, sweet pleasures of the rear 1/3rd of the board. The high-line finding, pocket protecting, curl seeking, steezy style-making aquatic engine zone of the whole goddamn thing.
Clearly, the Executive is a gentleman's surfboard, and should be enjoyed with a gentleman's beverage.
Recommended Pairing: I recommend enjoying the Executive with a dram of Aberlour A'Bunadh. Smooth, classic, stylish--a lush, golden complement for a board that should take you into your golden years of surfing with power, grace, and a pretty solid buzz.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Stripes and Stripes Forever

9'2 Bronson for my old buddy, Mark.

Mark and I met in 1985 and, like most kids, we explored the poles of the teenage experience to define our own identities--we were skaters, slackers, authority challengers, artists. We were writers, scholars, philosophers, dudes who flirted with each others' sisters. We were off-the-gridders, dirt bags, pretty boys, climbers, surfers, journalists, lady-crazed Jewbags, monks, walkers, bikers, boaters, shut-ins, fly fishermen, mountain towners, club kids, river guides, musicians.
Interestingly, the middle ground we've reached thirty years later, each on our separate corners of the continent, looks a lot like the suburbs.
Go figure.
True friends teach us about ourselves. Mark showed me, in seventh grade, the difference between creating and being creative. Anybody can make something, but it takes something truly special to live in the world between stuff that exists and stuff that could exist.
I've learned to visit this space, but Mark has always inhabited it.
You can check out his design/build studio HERE.
If you shred Maine waters, be on the lookout for Mark and his new sled, with not-quite-black and white, not-quite horizontal (by design!) lamination striping by Tony Mikus, a creative force of his own in Santa Cruz.

Recommended Pairing: this Bronson pairs best with a lukewarm Heineken in a can, poached from your folk's fridge on a warm summer night. Best when split between two underage drinkers in a tree fort.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Surf Movie Thing Tonight

Surf-movie thing tomorrow night!
What: a fundraising party for It Ain't Pretty, a film about Ocean Beach, San Francisco's lady surf shredders.
When: Wednesday, July 16th at 7pm.
Where: The Church of Surf! 3830 Noriega Street, SF.
Features: beer, food, and something billed as a 'Boys in Bikini Fashion Show,' so you might want to get there early to double--even triple--up on the beer part.
Reggae-inspired dancehall tunes by Santa Cruz's DJ Adam 12 and Biggah Happiness Sound.
Check out the event page by clicking on THIS.
Check out the non potato-salad themed Kickstarter page by clicking the word LADYSHRED.
TEAM HHG supports ladyshredders in all their shreddy pursuits, though we're currently stationed on the eastern seaboard and won't be able to attend. We have been doing our part encouraging the mini ladies, though, by shredding all things boogie board, two wheelers, and itch cream--they got bugs over here, yo!

Monday, June 23, 2014

Almost Famous

Stett Holbrook did a great job capturing the current spirit of NorthCoast surfing in this week's North Bay Bohemian. What's present is his article is accurate: a deep respect for surfers--by surfers--that may not be present in all of California's wave zones.
What's missing are all the boring, shrill stereotypes about surfers being myopic and territorial. Finally! Instead, Mr. Holbrook subtly highlights our coast's inclusivity. Our respect-for-just-making-it-out-into-the-lineup attitude. Our commitment to cold, dark, raw waters that are hard to love and, for some, hard to turn away from.
The article focuses on, well, me, but it really paints a thoughtful, articulate picture of surfing north of The Bridge. It can be read HERE.
Feel free to 'Like' and 'Comment' and stuff.

Speaking of surfing, remember that board from last post? Well, it's been all glassed up, waxed, and shredded. Initial reports: Oh boy.

Here she is all purty. Tony Mikus did a bang-up resin tint that's more 'kelp gold' than 'baby poop brown'. Thankfully.
I really like Tony--he's a character that's been under the surf-industry radar since the 70s. I like him to sign my personal boards. Here's what he came up with this pork chop:

Festina Lente is Latin for 'Make Haste Slowly'. Basically, it means that slow is smooth, and smooth is fast. So hurry up and slow down. Perfect, as I issued a rush on this board that probably had the entire glassing crew cursing my name.
It had to be done. Our plans for Baja were set. The paparazzi from Stett's article were relentless. South swell pulses were on the radar. Shredding had to happen, and it had to happen on this board.
And it did!
Wanna know what it's like to paddle out a new design with weird, homemade fins into hollow, dredging, top-to-bottom conditions?
How the hell should I know?
Both of today's sessions were in playful, peaky, shoulder-high mushburgers with fun, lined-up inside sections. This lil' lass dominated: easy entry, positive bottom turns, and loose, drivey fun.
Here's a rocker shot:
I can't say with complete honesty that both of today's sessions were totally 'sober' or 'without the influence of Tecate and tequila', but I can say this: this surfing life is a gift.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Summer Teeth

The Simmons platform has all the marks of true genius: functionality steeped in Newtonian mechanics, never-before-seen design aesthetics, and an incredible versatility--there aren't that many designs out there that will work for such a wide range of dimensions and wave sizes.
For example, the current crop of Mini-Simmons have sprouted at mid-to-sub five foot range. They slay flat-faced waves up to head high. On the day of his death in 1954, Bob Simmons rode a 10'6" in well-overhead surf at Windansea.
Reading Simmons theories gets me all sweaty and nerd stoked, so I carved out a 5'9" for myself that dives a bit deeper into the 'experimental' end of the design pool.
Low rocker (Simmons:"you just don't need it!") for maximum planing, and 'cambered' nose contour (in this case, a paneled forward vee) to spread water to the high-pressure rail area at takeoff. Domed deck blended into round, thin rails, to shed water off the airfoil. 
Widepoint ahead of center, as Simmons believed (and was backed up by aerodynamic and naval architecture) that load had to be forward of lift. 

Super wide, with a pulled nose rather than the more tombstone-y noses I've been shaping the last few years, as Simmons departed from the wide-nose plank designs of the day, experimenting with pulled-in and even pointed noses.
There's a subtle concave to reduce pressure flow under the board, and the tail is thin and wide.
The double wings are a departure from a more fundamental Simmons approach, but this board's going to be ridden in Northern California beachbreak, and a tighter tail will fit more comfortably into a steeper wave face. 

This one builds off my already flat Mini-Simmons rocker and breaks up the twin Simmons fins into a quad system.

These quads, too, depart from the norm, shifting more area from the rear fin to the forward fin. I love the drive off a huge twin fin, especially on drawn-out bottom turns, so this should maximize that hand-tickling-the-wave-surface feeling while adding an additional control element. Neal Purchase Jr.'s been having some success with this style in Australia and beyond.

Good lord, this post got tech weenie fast. How about little joke to break the geek tension:
Question: How do you know that Bob Simmons influenced your surfboard?
Answer: Because it works!
Are the various elements going to combine for maximum small-wave shreddage?
Who the hell knows?
All the applied design theory in the Library of Congress won't necessarily turn a lawnmower into a Stealth Bomber, but I'm pretty stoked to find out. 
Fortunately, we have a few weeks in Northern Baja coming up to provide a suitable testing ground. I'll keep you posted.