Monday, April 30, 2018

When the surfing population makes it’s way to the beach.

It’s interesting how the day begins at any given surf spot that is a regular destination for the surfer.

Sometimes there are plenty people first thing in the morning and sometimes not. Other times people start showing up at different times of the day all depending on what they know about the surf spot they are going to.

When surfers start migrating to the beach it’s usually planned the day or days before. Knowing when the surf may be good because of the forecasts. Or... having a routine that has you follow certain indicators for conditions, tides etc.

So one day while camping, I walk down to the beach early in the morning at the camp ground to check the surf and first find that there is not one car in the day lot. Which means there is no surf or the surf is junk or the conditions aren’t right?

Well, the tide was super low and the spot is a high tide spot. Anyone that surfs there even a little bit would know that. So what will happen? As the day progresses and the tide fills in the surfers that surf this spot will begin to show up. They know not to come until the conditions are right.

For some reason I find this aspect of the surfing life style interesting... it’s the idea that the surfer learns not only how to surf, about waves and conditions, and also know the particular favorable conditions for the various surf spots they may frequent. And almost like clock work if there is any surf they begin to appear at a given spot when there is surf and the conditions and tides are right.

Knowing when the conditions may be good and the right tides at your particular surf spot. Seeing the people that are in the know begin to appear at the time of day when conditions begin to move in favor of surf improvement…
It’s all part of the life of a surfer.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

Gotta be 10 years ago already when the idea of making a resin tail block out of layers of resin left over from color lams was put on one of my boards.

I had a small tray and simply poured resin into the tray until over a week or two the tray was full. Random layers of colored resin from the tray that was about 8 inches long and a couple inches both in width and depth. Because the tray was a soft plastic that the resin didn’t stick so you could pop the 2 inch by 8 inch block out of the tray… which I did. Then cut it in half long ways and was able to get two tail blocks from the one block.

Getting the block on the tail of a surfboard and shaping the resin block was tricky but doable. The first one went on my Tip Tool prototype. They go on Tip Tools and other custom boards on request.

I say it’s the jewel on the tail.


 You work hard to get the tail detail just right then saw it off?
 Get the block rough cut and glue it on
 With 36 grit on the grinder... reshape and feather in your detail
After clear lam and polish, you've got the jewel on the tail!

Thursday, February 22, 2018

When you make surfboards the opportunity to make yourself a surfboard is ever present.  So it’s possible to find yourself with a decent size quiver of boards over time.

Years ago when surfboards were evolving I never really had more than one surfboard at a time. Reason being designs were going through changes, so I would make a surfboard, surf it, determine what I’d like to change, make another board with the changes, surf it until determining what needed to be changed. The idea being at some point one could refine a design until you were ultimately happy and didn’t make any more changes. That’s how a surfboard model was born.

On my web sites surfboards page I have 16 different models listed. And me being me, I’ve got to surf the boards I make. So at one time or another I’ve had each one of those models…. except one. I’ve surfed the "except one” but haven’t had one of my own. And I want one really bad.

Currently I’ve got a ’67, Tip Tool, PSQ, Dream Cycle, H2, Stubbie Quad, a Seventies Single… I don’t have that one listed and Blinky’s Mega Fish, which isn’t a model I make. Every one of these boards I like a lot. Each board has its own characteristics and I could be happy if I only had one. Any one would be fine. But hey, I make surfboards so why would I settle for just one? Maybe I’d have just one or maybe two if they weren’t so hard to part with. The last board I let go of was my Gadget. I loved that board but this guy kept asking me to sell it to him. Finally I gave in and sold it to him. He was barely out of the drive way when I started regretting my decision to sell. Lesson learned all be it the hard way.

Ok, the one board model I haven’t had for myself is the T&G. The T is for trim and the G is for Glide. Trim and Glide is the new fun in long board surfing. You want them long. A minimum of 4” longer than the long board you usually ride or even 10’6 to 11’.  Though I’ve made mini versions, I want the long version.

Not only do you have great glide on the wave the board paddles so well you glide into waves too. Fast in trim, casual turning and turn backs, down the line speed, stable under your feet. I’ve got to make myself one of these.

The problem with having a quiver of boards to surf is sometimes when you’re at the beach the board you have with you is not the one you wish you had with you. I’ve got a van and sometimes I’ll have 4 boards in my van when I get to the beach. I look at the surf and think dang I should have brought the Tip Tool. Yeah, that’s just surf crazy.


Steve with his 11’1 T&G

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Just after the turn of the decade 1980 things changed in surfboards. It came with the fin. Actually 3 of them, on one surfboard.
It started in '81 and it seemed like within a year that was pretty much all you saw was the Thruster, also known as a tri fin. I personally didn't make the switch until the end of '82. I was a Greenough guy and surfed a single fin hull until finally deciding to try the Tri.
Not sure where that first tri fin I made myself went. I don't really remember how long I surfed it before making another one. But, I do remember that board well... and the one hang up I had with it.... fin location.
Never being one to take a ruler to another guys surfboard design... probably a pride thing... and even though I knew how important fin placement was I set out to figuring that tri fin thing on my own. The guys got to be different, or is it stubborn?
A few weeks ago I stumbled across some notes I'd written from January 1 1983 through January 18th. The notes were about 9 go outs riding my first ever tri fin. Even though I didn't remember writing about that board I always had remembered the problem I had with where the front fins were placed. So no surprise that in 2 of the 9 entries I mention a performance issue and the comment.. "I'm sure the fins need to be wider apart".
I fixed the issue by making another board. In retrospect maybe it would have been better to have sanded the fins off the board and re-positioning them. Guess making another board seemed easier.
Yeah, the tri fin design was pre fin system, so all those fins were glassed on. Funny too, there was the thought that if 3 fins are good maybe 4 or 5 fins would be better. I remember seeing a guy walk down the beach one day with a 6 finned board... I can't imagine glassing 6 fins on a board. Actually what's worse... having to sand a board with six fins on it. And the sander says " you want me to sand that? .. I quit.. sand it yourself".
Multi finned boards are great, and the removable fin system make them greater.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

The story of a surfboard blank.
Early 1994, during a typical routine of ordering blanks from Clark Foam. Usually I'd have a few blanks I'd need for specific custom orders. Then while I still had the order gal on the phone I'd grab the Clark catalog, turn through the pages asking the gal if there were any seconds or reject blanks available of the different blanks I'd call out from the catalog. Every blank that I was interested in that was available in a second or reject I'd buy and have sent up with the other blanks I'd ordered for my custom work.
Seconds and reject blanks had blemishes, or were order screw ups, like wrong stringer or glue color. Most of the blemishes would shape out. So I could end up with a good blank to use for a good discount. The blanks that wouldn't clean up good enough I'd keep for myself. Then fill or cover anything that didn't get shaped out of the blank. I'd get a board for myself and spend a little less in the process.
May of 1994 I moved off to Kauai. My original intention was to return to the main land a couple times a year, make some boards for Ventura Surf Shop and any orders that might come along, then return to Kauai. When I left in May I had a few stock blanks, seconds and rejects, that I put up in the rafters for safe keeping. Thinking I'd use them on my return visits.
I ended up only coming back September of '94. And as it happen I got an order for several boards all to be shipped to the east coast.  The orders took up all the time I had for my return visit so those stock blanks I had in the rafters weren't touched. And remained in the rafters until I returned to Ventura in 2002.
The 2 years I was back in Ventura I never touched those blanks in the rafters. But when I went back to Kauai in 2004 I decided to put the blanks in our shipping container with the plan that I make a few boards with them in Kauai.
My wife and I ended up only staying on Kauai for a year and in that year I didn't do anything with the blanks. So, not wanting to bring the blanks back with me I thought I'd sell them in the yard sale we had to reduce the number of things we would need to ship back to the main land. I'd tried to sell the blanks for $10 bucks a piece but had no takers... crazy.  
The funny thing is... this was November of 2005. It was December 5th of 2005 that Clark closed leaving the whole surfboard industry with no foam and just a few weeks before that I couldn't give those darn blanks away. So they came back with me to Ventura and went up in the rafters again. Then when we sold our house the blanks moved to the shed up in the horse corral at our new place.

Fast forward to now with my granddaughter wanting a surfboard for her birthday, she is getting serious about surfing. I tell my son I've got a few old Clark blanks, we could use one for a birthday board. Some 22 years later one of the rafter blanks becomes a surfboard. 
To every thing there is a season.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

As far as surfing goes for So. Cal. 2016... was pretty good. The water temps remained very nice. I only put on a winter wet suit once last January, which was a mistake, got to warm. The warm water temps remained  through spring and summer as well. Love that warm water.

It's gone now, back to the typical cool temps. The Anacapa buoy has been reading 58 degrees of late. That's the coldest it's been for 2 years, and normal for this time of year.

The surf was pretty consistent for the most part. This past November was going off as a matter of fact. This past summer got off to a good start with back to back southern hemisphere swells for most of the month. But the hurricane season, what was up with that?

I love hurricane swells and watched no fewer than 15 develop off Mexico this year. Always hoping for the best where they would hook to the north for a couple days and send us some surf. All but a couple weak ones did. They all did a bee line toward Hawaii instead, leaving us with.... not much.

The thing about surf, you never know what's in the future. We can have surf or not. We can have great weather for going to the beach and no surf when you get there. We can have surf with junk weather so the surf is no good. You can have your day off to surf be epic or not worth the effort. You can have every day available to surf but see a long run of no surf and bad weather... so long that you're going nuts from boredom. I mean really, a guy can only make surfboards for so long before the need to get in the water is over whelming.

Fortunately 2016 was pretty good for surf. Hoping 2017 is as good or better.

Happy New Year!


Thursday, December 22, 2016

If you think about surfboard design and are motivated to work through a certain design idea then being able to make your own surfboard is nice.
I consider myself fortunate that making surfboards is what I do. Being able to make a surfboard with some certain design elements and then go surf the board can be inspiring. Having a plethora of outlines accumulated over the years can make putting a new design together almost effortless. At least if the curves you're interested in match up nicely.
It's best to work off of something you're familiar with. So when I was asked to make a mid length performance type board that's not egg shaped or have a round nose I first thought of my Gadget model because of it's performance characteristics. But I would need to get a narrow nose on the front end.
So I got to thinking about another favorite performance board that runs about the same over all width with a narrow nose. It's a board that I surfed while living on Kauai and made for a number of guys there. Sure enough, this boards front end lined up very well with the Gadget back end. So using the Gadget profile and blending the two outlines together I came up with a new shape.
And as usual I didn't want to let the board go when it was finished. But it was promised to my friend Bob. Plus he wanted the board to be a tri fin. I've got ideas on making one for myself now but with a completely new fin set up I've been dreaming about.
More on that later.