Friday, November 30, 2018

50 years is a long time but, what can a guy say? 1968, the year of the V Bottom was in fact just 50 years ago. The V Bottom didn’t last long as we moved quickly to still more advanced surfboard designs… or at least new designs. For me it was the Hull.

I shaped a fair amount of V Bottoms back in the day working for Morey Pope. Their V Bottom model was the Mctavish Traker. I always wonder where some of those old boards end up. And every once in awhile one surfaces.


 A Tracker from 1968
I put my name on this one
A 21st Century reissue

Sunday, October 28, 2018

The seasonality of surfing, in California anyway…
So its fall now with swell direction changing from south swells to west north west. The water is starting to cool, but not much so far, which is nice. The tides are changing from morning lows to afternoon lows and day light is getting short.
On that note when I woke up this morning to a dark room and looked at the clock which read 5:30., I thought ‘man if it was May I’d be on my way to the beach right now if there was a swell and it would be first light already. Today first light was after 6:30. As well in May you could surf until after 7pm, but not now.
In the early days of surfing California the summer months were when most surfing took place. I’m not sure how much change there is now in the number of people that surf summer as opposed to winter. Definitely the beach going crowd in winter is pretty much exclusive to surfers.
Some guys like surfing winter more than summer. There are usually more waves and more consistent swells and size. Personally I just like good surf and the surf in winter where I live means the points start going off. Though Ventura point gets south swells and west north west. But personally, I like summer swells more than winter swells.
I like the angle of south swells. Though in Ventura you can get longer rides with west and north west swells you do have to chase sections through soft spots where as south swells hook more at you and can give you the opportunity to really drive a line.
Winter surf pulls all the sand out and exposes all the cobles where as the summer months all the cobles get covered with sand. Another reason to like summer over winter where I live. You lose your board in summer and it washes up on sand.. at least during low tide. Lose your board in winter and it washes over rocks. And you have to walk over rocks to get in and out of the water during winter months too.
As a teenager growing up it was the summer months I got to surf the most and no doubt that plays a big part on why I like surfing during the warmer, longer,o lazy days of summer.
Going to miss them until they come around again next year.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

So, while on the subject of surf forecasters.  Today was the arrival of a hurricane swell. The forecast was for good size surf. Though it’s Sunday and I usually don’t surf the weekends I decided to go down early and get in on this swell.
When I got out of bed and looked at what the buoys said, surprisingly they read 2 to 3.3 foot.  Which isn’t much… ok it was 5am. Maybe the swell just isn’t registering yet. After going down to the beach and seeing that there really wasn’t much I came home.  I would’ve been better off sleeping in. Sometimes the forecast is off…. Waist high isn’t double overhead.
Anyway, you know what the difference is between the guys that make a lot of surfboards and the guys that don’t make a lot of surfboards?  It’s the time that is spent on the process.
I don’t have to make a lot of surfboards… I have in the past but don’t now. Because I don’t have to make one after another after another with several boards in different stages of the process at once I can take my time on each part of the process and get a bit more involved with the craft.
I believe In Bing Copeland’s surfboard book he explained that during the 60’s when surfing started getting popular one of his goals was to always have a 2 week turn around time. This meant that when someone ordered a board it would be finished in 2 weeks. So on any given day if 4 orders came in those 4 boards would be finished in 2 weeks from that day. So what happens when 5 orders come in the next day and 8 come in the day after that? Suddenly you have to make a lot of boards in a short amount of time.
Hiring more help so that each stage of the process is done by one person is what happens. Then making surfboards becomes a production thing instead of a crafting thing. Which is fine, that’s what happens to successful businesses, work hard turning over product.
This week while working on one of my orders I got to thinking about how much time I spend fussing with some of the details of making a surfboard and how there would be no way I could have done that in the production environment. I smiled and said to myself ‘yeah and I’m having fun doing what I’m doing now’. 
Working in production is hard work, and I liked it. Other wise I would have done something else. But taking my time and enjoying the process is just more enjoyable.

Thursday, August 30, 2018

I know somewhere in this blogs archive I’ve mentioned how in the old days we didn’t have surf forecasts. The way you found out if there was surf or not was to go to the beach. If there was surf you saw it.. and surfed it. If there was no surf? Well you just hang at the beach or went home.
As time went on there were radio surf reports that you could catch sometimes if you knew what radio station had them and when they were broadcast. But they weren’t forecasts they were reports on what the local conditions were like and surf size was at any given spot. They were dependent on the person actually going to the beach and seeing what the conditions and surf was like.
Fast forward to now…. We have forecasters that post on the internet when a swell is headed our way, giving us plenty of time to plan our days and schedules for when the swells show up.
There were 2 south swells forecast this August. Both hit on Fridays one week apart. I always look forward to these summer swells. I also like surfing early morning during summer so will head down even when the forecast is for smaller surf. Normally there is a crew of surfers on any given morning that get in the water almost everyday…. unless it’s completely junk or flat. But when there is an announced and forecast swell suddenly every body and all their friends, brothers and sisters come down to get the good stuff.
It’s amazing how people come out of the woodwork for these announced swells. The odd thing to me is the number of people that get in the water that really have no business being in the water when there is a swell. Their surfboards are attached to their foot and are soft so the consequences of floundering and falling are nil…. Except if they get in the way of someone actually surfing.
My question to the surf forecasters that not only forecast when swells will arrive at our beaches but that also say in their forecasts when the best times of the day are to take advantage of optimum conditions…. Do you guys think you should be responsible for the hyped up novice surfer getting hurt during a swell event?
Here’s how it happens… I take off on a set wave and am flying down the line because the waves are pretty good long walls. As I come down into the inside section all of a sudden someone is going straight down the wave face in front of me. I move up the wave face to skirt by them but, they can’t get to their feet without falling. I try my best in a split second to not run them over… but no, they get hit by my fin. Fortunately on the arm… if it was their head who knows how that would’ve turned out like. This happened the last swell we had a couple weeks ago.
Last year it happened twice in the same day.  You forecaster guys need to encourage the novice surfer to stay out of the water when there is some sizable surf, warn them of the dangers of surfing in crowded line ups and let them know that days when the surf is smaller are the days to learn and practice advancing their surfing skills.

Monday, July 30, 2018

A couple posts ago I mentioned how a particular surf spot will begin to populate when the right conditions begin to work.  Like a break that works best on a higher tide will be vacant when the tide is low and as the tide fills in people with surf boards begin to show up… especially if there is a swell in the water.
Depending on what your routine is for knowing and going for a surf you may or may not venture to the beach. It’s pretty easy these days to know when there is a swell arriving and hence plan your days accordingly… My son always has his phone in his pocket. He’ll be at the house pull his phone out tap it a couple times and say “ you know there’s surf, and the conditions look pretty clean right now, wanna go?” …I wonder how may people do that at any given time on any given day?....
Anyway, this past week we received a nice southern hemisphere swell. Actually 3 back to back that ran for about 6 days from start to finish, building to a peak 3 days in. I wanted that swell bad. But, as is typical this time of year, the channel winds picked up a day or so before the swell began to peak. The ingredients for junk. And junk it was.
I knew it was junk without even seeing the ocean. There are things that monitor ocean conditions thanks to technology. One can check those things to know before you go. I do it almost daily as part of my routine for surfing.
As it happened the conditions didn’t improve until the third day of the week. I went and got a bit of the swell but, conditions still weren’t that good. By Thursday conditions improved more but the swell was fading, and fading more Friday with condition good by then.
Fingers crossed for the next decent summer swell and good conditions to go with it.

Meg and her Gadget

Saturday, June 30, 2018

This past week I surfed early morning Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday.
Monday the conditions were really clean with 2 small south swells in the water. One swell had a longer period than the other and a bit more size but both had pretty inconsistent sets.
Tuesday those same swells were there with a bit more size and consistency. To bad for me… right when I started paddling out a south wind picked up and the clean conditions started to deteriorate. Though the wind didn’t pick up strong enough to completely mess up and blow out the surf. It was still possible to pick off a couple set waves, over all it wasn’t that good.
Wednesday the surf had picked even more size and consistency but winds had also picked up later in the day Tuesday and continued through the night in the channel. I think gusts on the west Santa Barbara buoy were running around 27 kts. So even though there was a nice south swell in the water there was also channel bump and a junky small wind swell too. The bump is one thing but, typically the wind swell crosses the south swell and breaks it up to the point that it’s really not very surf able… which was happening.
Hoping for better size and when it finally reaches us it’s all bust up. I went out anyway, grumbling all the way. Once in the water I found that the junk wind swell had lulls and if a lull came when there was a south set you could pick off a decent ride… or decent enough. You’d bounce around and move around for several minutes then maybe find a decent line and go after it. It was a mental game battling frustration and manipulating for position every second.
I read this line recently… In restless forces the surfer holds their balance and flow smoothly through it all… that’s a good line. The interesting thing, from the beach it looks effortless.

Thursday, May 31, 2018

Leading a simple life is something to strive for…. at least from my point of view. I may be biased but, I think getting a surfboard from me is a pretty simple process. We discuss what you’d like, go over the particulars and I put our plan on my work list and estimate the completion date. I don’t do deposits…. So when your board is complete you pay for it when you pick it up… or if the board is being shipped you send a check before the board is boxed. It’s a simple process.

Just for fun here are a few guys that went through the simple process recently.


 Dale with his 10' Tip Tool
 Brendt with his 7'10 Gadget
 Steve with his 11'1 T&G
Frank with his 9'6 Imperial