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THE WARUNG OF KNOWLEDGE STEVE PENDARVIS + JACK COLEMAN LA UNDERGROUND + EVO REVO + E6 GRAINY DAYS JIM DRIVER + JUNJI KUMANO + JOE HODNICKI
1. Experimentation equals inspiration in this “Evolution of Revolution” exercise. Photo: Shawn Tracht.
A chocolate hotdog, mayonnaise spread on a toasted bun, vanilla frosting creamed on top, chopped mushrooms, dusted lightly with crumbled salt and vinegar Kettle Chips, raisins, shredded carrots, barbecue-flavored pine nuts, a scoop of wet, canned dog food, plus a dash of worcestershire sauce. In a world of constant flux, fragmentation, attention deficient world order, and multifarious medleys combining things never meant to be together, society sprouts the organized confusion of today. The metanarrative is dead! Welcome to Post Modern thought. Welcome to pandemonium, the new pill for satiation. Therefore, welcome to your new surfboard. Welcome to the REVOLUTION. One wise board shaper once told me, “Design can go in so many different directions, and this is what makes it so fun. We can look at ‘design’ like digits of a phone number. Each digit can represent components like rocker, outline, fins, fin placement, construction, bottom contour, etc. We are taking these digits and stringing them together to make the phone ring. One of the digits can be off and it’s the wrong number. To think outside of the box is always what compels us to move forward. Hey, why not? Let’s give it a go!” My response to this synopsis? When we are itching for a new feel, sometimes we dial the numbers wrong on purpose. Other times, like now, we will even add too many numbers, just to see what will happen. Often, the phone stills rings somewhere, even if not where or how we originally intended. For instance, adding the science of golf balls, snowboards, jet fighters, the science of air flow, or the idea of reducing drag by adding fins is like putting all the condiments possible on a hotdog, just to see what new tastes may come about in an effort to find a part worth holding on to. In this groundbreaking exercise, California shapers William “Stretch” Riedel, Paul Finley, Nick Cooper, Zephaniah Carrigg, Jeff Hull, Robert Weiner, Sean Mattison, and Josh Oldenburg, attempting to revolutionize common thought and help us evolve further as surfers, have crafted an eclectic melange of surfboards by way of variegated theories and personal hypothesis. Welcome to the Evolution of Revolution, the Evo Revo. >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel.
By Shawn Tracht
Eight Shapers from Santa Cruz to San Diego Who Are Pushing Surfboard Design in the Post Modern Era
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The Bato Loco
On March 4th, 1988, Bill “Stretch” Riedel died. About 30 minutes later he came back to life. He was not finished. He had more to do, a wonderful wife, and a young daughter. This Santa Cruz craftsman has since become Surfing Magazine’s “Shaper of the Year” (2006) and an icon in the quad-fin design re-revolution. Stretch was a no-brainer choice our for Evo Revo symposium, because, he, more than any shaper I know, will go balls-to-the-wall with surfboard design, combining science, surfing, and material research.
Shaper’s Concept | Bill “Stretch” Riedel In the mid-’80s, I worked with another shaper named Mike Crouteu. The two of us, together, built one of his designs, which was an air induction board. This is a board that you purposefully suck air from the deck and introduce it onto the bottom of the board, pulling air through the two holes and then dispersing it across the bottom of the board. The idea is to have the board riding on air rather than riding on water, thinking that air has less friction than water, which is true. So that was where the idea for the board first evolved, or where I first saw it. Back in the ‘80s, we built two or three of these boards. Now, the boards worked alright. The boards were real fast, but they didn’t have a lot of control, because they were riding on air, and fins don’t work very well on air. So, that’s why the boards didn’t work, or, at least, I believe that they didn’t work because of that. I’ve always wanted to build that board again and see if I could get it to work. What I did this time, using some of the newer fin designs with the foils that allow for greater angles of the tack, was to use those fins and configure the channeled air coming down slightly differently than how we used to do by 122 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
raising or lowering the rear four fins. The old boards were tri-fins rather than four-fins. So, the idea was, can we get these fins to be down in the water and not in the air and get the board to turn in control and yet still have most of the board riding on air? One of the reasons that we haven’t done it before is that it’s very time consuming to build these boards. This board took me 20 hours to build. Drilling holes through the board, glassing the holes, making the carbon fiber plate that goes over the top, and reinforcing the plate so that it doesn’t flap, which some of the older boards did, takes time. Lastly, it’s pretty expensive to make this board, because time, which equals labor, costs money, and so I hadn’t tried this experiment again until Shawn finally gave us a reason to go for it. This is probably a fairly specialized board, something to go really fast down the line, and I don’t really expect it to work. The problem is that air doesn’t tend to want to be confined underwater, it wants to go everywhere, which is the problem with this design. The air wants to go everywhere. However, I think if you can keep the air controlled, the board could work.
Shawn’s Take Stretch’s Bato Loco design juxtaposed technology and science with thought and theory from multiple genres of work. When I picked up the board, Stretch told me that the holes were based on the idea of fluid dynamics and Bernoulli’s Principle. As I got this round-nose fish board with twin holes drilled through the deck (over the front foot) into the surf, the entire way I had been trained to surf fell out the window. For starters, just because air was supposed to go through the holes, it wasn’t a given at any speed. While paddling, because the board’s deck rests below the surface, water is always filling into these holes. This water then stays sort of trapped in the induction system through the middle of the board. To get this board to normal speed, I had to first get on the wave and pump hard to drain this water from the induction system; so, on small, beachbreak closeouts, the board never had time to get light and speedy. However, Stretch told me to take it to a pointbreak with bigger waves. Both in Santa Cruz and Malibu during good-sized south swells, the main goal was to get this thing humming and vibrating! It seemed like the bigger the swell, the more the board dialed up the excitement. In double-overhead surf, I’d be dropping in, fading to the bottom, concurrently trying to lift up from my back foot and drain the water so the
board could get the air induction function working. My results came sporadicly. Did I dig rails, face plant, get held in the lip and pitched on regularly makable drops? Yeah! But I’ve never laughed so hard while getting rung through the washing machine. I had asked Stretch to shape me an Evo Revo board, and he obliged. How could I be anything but grateful for the wipeouts I asked him for? Like any board, it was only a matter of time until I got the board to do its thing a few times. On a rolling set, paddling back from a maddening wipeout, Big Dume pushed a double-overhead bomb past the pack to where I sat. On this magical wave, for the first time, the planets aligned. The wave was steep, hollow, and running. It was all or nothing for the Bato Loco. Determined and ready to take one quick hard pump to release the water from the induction holes, I went from slamming on the E-brake to mach speed! The board hit it’s sixth gear, humming and chattering with a feverish zing. WOW! Overall, the Bato Loco spurred adrenalized idealism and insight on the beach and up and down the coast as I visited surf spots and shapers for various projects. The energy was great, the successes were rare, but evolution, somehow, has been challenged to take notice to Stretch’s design.
Stretch told me that the holes were based on the idea of fluid dynamics and Bernoulli’s Principle. 1
1. William Riedel (left) and Shawn Tracht, geeking on Stretch’s air-induction board. Photo: Josh Sparrow. 2. Marcus “Fraggle” Hodgson finds the Bato Loco sweet spot within speed and carve. Photo: Tracht. 3. Stretch adds a pair of holes through the blank. Photo: Dave Aumentado. 4. Tracht, Loco assessment in Central Cal. Photo: Jeff Pfost. 5. Carbon fiber induction material introduction. Photo: Dave Aumentado.
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Shaper’s Concept | Paul Finley
The Eye Wrencher
The board shaped for this article is asymmetric in its entirety. The nose is pulled out and up in order to create a bridge to the straighter rail line. The symmetrical length in the tail helps with rail-to-rail control. It has a rolled front rail on the toes side nose with a slightly thicker rail than the heel side, and a single to half of a deeper double-concave out the toes side with a heavily rolled V-bottom out the heel side of the board. It is set up with a MR 78 fin on the toes side with a cant at 6 degrees, and the heel side uses a True Ames performance twin-fin with a cant at 11 degrees. I feel that this design aspect, changing the cant on either side of the stringer, may be, as much as anything else, the revolutionary part of my design. Does the water really know, or care, if the rails are symmetrical? We, ourselves, from back to front, are not symmetrical beings. Looking down at one’s toes and then looking behind your heels, you will see a bit of a difference. How does this translate to board design, and does it make a difference in the water? When we walk, run, surf, or move, our bodies have been designed to do these things in a manner in which one direction has an advantage over the other in that particular flow of action. Running down a hill backwards is very difficult, but running up a hill backwards can actually be very efficient. Weight placement and leaning off one’s center of gravity creates force, or leverage, towards a particular direction.
When surfing, the idea behind turning is to create a directional change while being able to maintain balance and control. This is most easily accomplished by staying over, or close to, the center of gravity above your board. The whole idea behind having asymmetry in the rails is to harness the best parts of a board and combine it into one board that functions smoothly and efficiently in both directions. So, the idea is to have a straighter rail curve on my toes side, which produces a more effective rail to generate speed and control down the line. The heel side would be curved more and sometimes shorter, which leads to a smaller portion of the rail in the wave face at any given time, enabling an easier pivot point to be created. With the combination of rail curves and bottom contours (which are asymmetrical, as well), these areas of board control are more easily felt and maneuvered without passing over the center of gravity as far as one would go on a symmetrical board. The silly side of the story would be that people have surfed and will surf on a massive array of surfcraft and do incredible and amazing things. Asymmetrical design is an area of surfboard development in which, I believe, there is much more ground to traverse but is not the only or absolute “answer” or “truth” to building the perfect surfboard. All together, they are super fun to ride, extremely functional, and pretty amusing to look at.
Somewhere, virtually hidden in the hills of Central California, you might find Paul Finley. Tall, lanky, tattooed, and hippy-fied, Finley is known for pushing the limits of common surfboard idealism and building highly functional and creative surfcraft. Mowing foam to the beat of some Socratic drum, Finley questions everything. He’s not enamored with the sexy, sleek, white shortboards lining the racks at every surf shop; rather, he wagers his single proprietary business on zany, Bohemian, eccentric boards.
Shawn’s Take If you’ve never ridden an asymmetric before, the design looks near unridable. Finley’s board worried me, and paddling the board left my eyes crooked, off center as I looked down the stringer. Just by the sight, I felt threatened that I may catch a rail where I should be doing a smooth bottom-turn, or get stuck at the top of a turn and not be able to pivot. However, just the opposite happened. Flat equals fast, and curve equals performance. The idea of the asymmetric Finley shaped was to give me full drive on the toes side. In that, he made the entire toes side template like a fish. A straight rail line, a thicker tail to push off for spring while pumping down the line, and a single to double concave (though that concave idea was only concave on the toes side) creating lift for speed and get-up, flow, and smooth, long drawn lines. Conversely, the heel side gave me all of what I wanted in a shortboard template: a shorter board, more curve, and a thinner tail for knifing through lip sections and allowing for full 124 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
rotation pivots in the pocket. Incredibly, the twin-fin setup had the board working somewhat like a thruster and somewhat like a keel fin fish. It was less of a challenge than I first expected. The cant and differentiated fin sizes seemed to work with each rail line that was engaged, which, in turn, explains exactly how this board is meant to be ridden -- from rail to rail. This board paddled with incredible speed, planed smooth and high down the line, and allowed me to rip into lips with a different flow of speed than a normal, symmetrical shortboard. I had the long, smooth, speedy flow of a fish, then the quick-hipped pivoting ability of a high-performance shortboard. This board, again, like the others in the article, hasn’t revolutionized or evolutionized surfing in one fell swoop; but it has, in a time period of fragmentation and rapid thrust of trial and error, put another notch in a gap of surfing style that is carving it’s way into the creation of a whole new genre.
Changing the cant on either side of the stringer may be, as much as anything else, the revolutionary part of my design. 1
1. Paul Finley and his Eye Wrencher. Photo: Tracht. 2. Parked inside using the straight, toes side rail. Tracht. Photo: Pfost. 3. Tracht gets perpendicular on Finley’s asymmetrical. Photo: Tim Schmidt. 4. Finley found asymmetric harmony by adding different cants and fins. Photo: Tracht. 5. Chad Jackson whips one from the toes side to heel side rail. Photo: Tracht.
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Shaper’s Concept | Nick Cooper
The Butter Knife
I decided to add two new design features to my Evo Revo board: One part was an un-sanded bottom, and the other was adding bevels into the rails. My idea of leaving an un-sanded bottom stemmed from feeling the difference in glide between sanded finish boards and fully polished boards. Contrary to what you’d first expect, a rougher finish (sanded bottoms) flowed faster through the water than a smoother (polished) board did. The rougher finish releases the surface tension of the water, allowing it to flow more freely over the bottom of the board. The smoother finish sticks more to the surface of the water, much like two wet pieces of glass sticking together. I took this theory one step further and added some design aspects to the board that release the surface tension of the water on the rail, as well. I started with my favorite high-performance design that I have been making most of this year. My objective was to make this design faster by releasing the surfacing tension of the water. I added bevels to the bottom edge of the rail, forward of the fins. I also added bevels, or release points, to the top edge of the entire tail area. I also did some changes in the glassing process. On the bottom of the board, I did an ultra-thin hot coat, leaving the texture of the fiberglass showing. This is similar
to the textured decks of the ‘60s and ‘70s, only on the bottom of the board. This left the bottom surface of the board with texture, similar to the dimples on a golf ball. This texture, in theory, releases the surface tension of the water, allowing it to flow faster over the bottom surface of the board. This was the first prototype I built with the changes in shape and glassing process. I had been pondering similar changes for around a year before I built this board. These changes are not specific to one type of board, but could be used on any shape you want to travel faster and smoother through the water...that is, if the changes actually work in practice, not just in theory. This was a fun experiment that I will continue to explore and refine. Since making this first prototype, I have shaped several more boards that are slight variations on the concept. I have been changing the angles of the bevels in relation to the stringer, seeing how that affected the water flow and feel of the board. I’ve also been changing the depths of the bevels, seeing how that affects the feel of the board in glassy and choppy conditions. It will be an ongoing process to isolate what works and what doesn’t, and that’s the evolution of revolution.
Coop DeVille REvolution
Nick “Coop” Cooper, from San Luis Obispo, is always thinking. About a year ago, I came by Coop’s shop and he was buzzing with positive stoke. I asked him, “What gives?” and he went into this hour explanation of revolutionary ideas he had about surfboard rail and bottom designs. He said, “Whether these designs work or not in the first few prototypes, they have to be efficient and useful once I get them dialed in. I just wish I had the extra time or money to shape some of these ideas.” That got me thinking. ‘How many shapers are out there, like Coop, with revolutionary ideas sitting on their brows, waiting for excuses to shape them?’ Scheming thereafter, I figured out how to challenge mainstream surfboard design, challenge my surfing, and challenge my mind. That’s where the Evo Revo first germinated.
Shawn’s Take To figure out the intricacies of this new shape, I tested the board several times at my home break, a little A-frame reef. On first get up, that first lateral pump, as well as high-line speeding across the wave’s crest, the new design features of an un-sanded bottom and beveled rails didn’t seem to show me a new feel. Moreover, flowing deep into my bottom turn, fading behind the whitewater, coming all the way to the deepest part of the trough, I still wasn’t noticing a difference in Coop’s design. However, at the moment when the board went into an upward projection back towards the lip, the board finally hit its extra acceleration. It’s almost like the bottom of the board, once the full belly was on plane sliding straight up the face for a top turn, accelerated and slid extra fast to the lip. There was a little burst of speed, like hitting the nitrous button for a split second. Again, surfing waves besides my home break would have made it difficult to feel this slight acceleration, but knowing my wave like the back of my hand allowed me to recognize that I was at a different place, scaling up the face towards >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel. 126 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
the lip, than I had been before, and that the slide seemed silkier, almost a slight bit uncontrollably quicker for a short moment before I made contact with the lip. It’s hard to know exactly why, because there are two new designs in this one board; but it’s possible that the beveled rails on the top side of the tail helped in this acceleration. The board really came alive on the next level when coming out of a really deep bottom-turn. If you figure that the top of the tail, where the bevels were carved in, is buried deep into the wave on a steep bottom-turn, then the faster you can release the water tension from the board on the way back up the face, the faster the board will spring to the top. I’m thinking that by releasing water tension around the top side of the rail, which is buried on the toes side rail until the board changes planes, then it gets to full belly plane faster for the way back up the face. It will be interesting to see how future generations add these bevels and bottom ideas to different parts of the board on all different types of shapes.
My objective was to make this design faster by releasing the surfacing tension of the water. 1
1. Nick Cooper looked to increase speed by reducing rail drag. Photo: Courtesy Coop DeVille. 2. Golden test results for Tracht on the Central Coast. Photo: Andy Bowlin. 3. Coop adds splash to the Butter Knife. Photo: Tracht. 4. UV curing cubicle. Photo: Tracht. 5. Tracht studies the intrusive bevels. Photo: Brent Lieberman.
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The 4’8 Longboard Soap Dish
A specialist in longboard and alternative shortboard designs as well as a master in colorful, careful resin work, Zephaniah Carrigg’s craftsmanship and imagination can be compared with the best builders and artists this industry has ever seen. Learning his shaping and glassing techniques via mentors like Dennis Murphy, the cast of the famed Channin factory, and Gene Cooper, Carrigg was drafted by Bing Surfboards in the years posterior before eventually breaking away to start his own brands — Cliché, Board Design, and, now, Zephaniah — where he builds each board, himself, from the rooter to the tooter.
Shaper’s Concept | Zephaniah Carrigg Fish are not new, and longboards are not new; however, this shape, a 4’8 Longboard Soap Dish, is something that I haven’t seen done before. The idea of the board is targeting a gap in surfing that I don’t really see being surfed right now, and the idea, like many surfboard design ideas, is to create a new feel in surfing. I discussed with Shawn how most surfers, especially those who actually work, surf the same surf spot or two everyday, barring a surf trip here and there. That being said, part of enjoying surfing is the challenge, and once a surfer surfs the same peak at the same surf break for enough years, the wave is no longer a challenge. Therefore, learning new ways to surf that wave becomes a challenge, and the way to do that is by experimenting with new equipment. This board I shaped, which Shawn calls the “Soap Dish,” was created for good to advanced surfers in mind. It’s not really a fish, because it has so many longboard characteristics. For example, a good noserider can noseride this board because of the concave under the nose. It doesn’t feel like you’re noseriding on a longboard, but it looks like it. The concave scoop >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel. 128 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
nose provides lift in longboards, and, in this board, it does just the same. The reason I added the concave in the nose was to add lift, which helped this extremely short board catch waves easier and ride bigger than it really is. Really, anything to help this little contraption catch waves easier is a major design plus. Add to that, the lift will also make the board more spirited. As for the the double rail concave, the purpose of that is to give the board the feeling of a concave bottom without actually putting a concave under the belly of the board between the feet. The board is so small that the last thing I wanted to do was put a bottom concave through the middle of the board. A normal concave increases agility and mobility, but, in a board this small, you need speed more than mobility contours. Because the board is so small, the tiny length will allow it to be mobile. So, instead of putting a concave from the nose all the way to the tail, I left the part of the board between the nose and tail, between your feet, flat, for all-out speed, yet added a new concave design to the rails only, to give the board bite in more curvy, critical parts of the wave.
Shawn’s Take The 4’8 Longboard Soap Dish takes characteristics of a longboard, a hybrid fish, and something extraterrestrial into a new, stylish flow. Leaving the belly of the board flat set the board off into mach speed like a lit firecracker. However, I was most impressed by how versatile this board was off the bottom and in the curl. The concave rails bit hard and set a line deep into the wave; wherein, even though most very wide boards slide out in curvy parts of a wave, this board could hold. Yet it held with a different, new feel . It wasn’t the bite and grip of a thin-railed shortboard, but it also didn’t take the line of a thick-railed fish or longboard, either. It was somewhere in between, and very interesting to figure out. It definitely changed the lines I’ve ever taken on waves I surf everyday. One new line the board offered up was a cheater-five noseride, on a 4’8! The concave nose matched with the quad-fin setup and underside rail contours surprisingly all meshed together when steep and long little
sections arose, holding me perched and angled sweetly, right at the top of the speed pocket. The tail design was another unique characteristic I hadn’t seen before. Seemingly, it was a wide diamond-tail with a very quick, shallow, jet fighter-like swallowtail tucked in back. From what I could surmise, the width of the tail helped me garner and maintain speed on all parts of the wave, whereas the added edges introduced by just enough of this very-angular swallowtail allowed me to make faster direction changes and off-the-top swings. And, the flow of the tail out of turns made it so I could pivot smoothly, fade fast in the curl, then run back out to plant a gouging layback. In summation, the board was built for speed, speedy maneuvers, and was not limited in any type of performance. That said, the performance of this board is still relative to the underlying idea of riding a 4’8” longboard. It was performance with style.
It was a wide diamond-tail with a very quick, shallow, jet fighter-like swallowtail tucked in back. 1
1. Speed Release. Tracht on the 4’8 Longboard Soap Dish. Photo: Craig Hamlin. 2. Zephaniah Carrigg holds the future of long, short, and more in one hand. Photo: Ryan A. Smith. 3. Glaring details: scooped nose, belly, concave rails, double-concave through the fins. Photo: Lieberman. 4. Jet-fighter-swallow-diamond-tail. Photo: Smith. 5. High-line lip balance, check. Tracht. Photo: Javier Delgado.
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The Ski Sled
Young commitment turned almost a decade-long shaper, at the ripe age of 28, Jeff Hull has been trained by some of Santa Barbara’s top surfboard manufacturers and now runs a full-time shaping and glassing shop in Ventura. He’s a guy who is always creating, with a specialty in shortboards and alternative fishes. Jeff is a guy who’s up for anything, always offering me boards to take home and ride, and is never afraid to carve a dent into foam just to see what happens.
Shaper’s Concept | Jeff Hull It’s hard to say, after the evolution of boards to this point, stuff that I’m doing and shapers of this time are doing has never been done. From the theories that I’ve been playing around with, I’ve taken forgotten elements from the past and combined them in a way that I could envision future evolution in the development of this board. As a starting point, I used my standard fish outline then chopped a side-cut inspired by what you see on old snowboard outlines. The theory being, whether or not your fin choice was gripping the water the way you wanted it to, the actual outline of the board would drive energy up the face of the wave by transferring weight to the lower portion of the rail, in a similar way that a snowboard uses its edges. Next, I wanted to give this board a lot more of an alternative feel and glide, where you are surfing the board off the rail rather than driving energy off the fins. This was accomplished by using a hull contour bottom under the front foot for the glide and transitioning to a double concave, which then transitions to a double130 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
step bottom that ends with a V off the tail. The double-step is what really sets this board up for the alternative feel. Everything about this board is predictable until the water hits the back double-step. The way that the air in the water releases off the steps forces you to surf the board in a way that gives you the feeling of an alaia style board. With the control given from the side-cut, you are able to glide up and down the face in a clean, smooth rhythm. As far as fin choice, I wanted to make a board that didn’t rely on fins to create the drive, so I placed keel fins further up than normal for a standard fish and added C4 biters just forward of the keel fins to complement when the side-cut was put on rail. A year before I started making surfboards, I spent time working in a snowboard factory glassing boards and doing lay-ups. I’ve always wanted to incorporate side-cuts found on the retro snowboards into one of my alternative fish designs. This combination of the side-cut releasing with the step bottom has been super fun to surf.
Shawn’s Take Rooted in test riding shortboard and fish designs, this snowboard Ski Sled concoction was instantly on the “A” list for my taste. What I love about twin-fin keel fish are the parallel, straight rail lines built for long, speedy high-lines. I love the rail to rail surfing of a keel fin swallowtail, transitioning fifth gear speed into wide-open, full rail, grab-rail cutbacks. However, this board didn’t continue its long, straight rail lines all the way back to the swallow, being that Hull incorporated a retro-snowboard tail. Here’s where the new feel in surfing came from. The board became a hybrid mix of keel-fin flow and shortboard squirt. The forward volume and parallel lines of the front half of this board provided speed, wherein the board was doing all the work for speed, glide, and flow. However, when fading to the bottom, projecting up to an open, high-tide lip section, this board never went into a typical keel fin fish, wide cutback. Instead, everything felt keel fin fishy until you pivoted into the turn. At this point, the stepped hull bottom and cut-outs stopped the long, flowing rail turn, and the board squirted into a fin slide curl turn!
Every board takes a little getting use to, and this board was the same. So, when I began to understand the hybrid nature of the juxtaposition of full rail surfing and quick, squirty slide surfing, I was able to take new lines on the Ski Sled. Like a keel fin fish, you could do a twin-fin fade into waves at the takeoff, flow a drawn out bottom-turn towards the lip, and then fully release the tail off the top with a flaring shortboard feel. The release off the top wasn’t controlled, however, like a squash-tail shortboard; rather, the cutouts added a new unpredictability to sliding the tail. Lastly, the board was only 5’7”, yet felt, again, sort of like a keel fin swallowtail retro fish. Because the outline of the board was pulled in so hard towards the tail, though, the shortboard side of the board also opened up the opportunity for using fish speed to throw a few little airs each session. This shape, especially when experimented in conjunction with many different fin configurations and heavier or lighter glass jobs, is a board that will deliver a contemporary flow and a revived elation to shortboarders in need of a new script.
The board opened up the opportunity for using fish speed to throw a few little airs. 1
1. Chad Eastman and the Ski Sled. Photo: Kenny Backer. 2. Tracht easily releases momentum. Photo: Pfost. 3. Eastman drops the fins into gear. Photo: Backer. 4. Hull tidies up his Evo Revo entry. Photo: Tracht. 5. Jeff Hull’s double-step and side-cut designs. Photo: Tracht.
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The Future Fish
Roberts REvolution Robert Weiner, from Ventura, started shaping 18 years ago, has shaped over 20,000 boards, and, last year, was named “Shaper of the Year” by Surfing Magazine. I had no idea what to expect when I showed up. Was Robert going to be too cool to work with after he’d just been kinged? Just the opposite occurred. When Rob greeted me at his shop, he was extremely appreciative to work with me and is, honestly, one of the most humble guys I’ve ever met.
Shaper’s Concept | Robert Weiner The board that I designed for the Evo Revo is based on a lot of different boards that I’ve been shaping lately, so I would say that it is somewhat conservative. I don’t like to make boards that might work! I like to make boards that will work better than the boards I’ve made in the past. The idea for this board came from observation of the direction that design is going towards, which is shorter, wider boards, which are becoming very popular. So this is the type of board I shaped. Most small boards have a fairly flat rocker so that they can generate speed quickly. One of the problems with these types of boards are that a wider, flatter nose can dig in on vertical turns and late drops. Another thing that can be a problem is the wide tails on these types of boards, which can have a tendency to slide out in bigger surf or super high-speed turns. So what I came up with was a short, wide board >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel. 132 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
with a 1 1/4-inch wide bevel on the tucked edge for forgiveness. This was probably the design technique where I pushed it the most. I also added a winged diamond-tail to give the board a narrower tail block for better holding power. I know that all these design features have been done before, but, when we put all these features together, it has created a very functional yet unique board. We also added five finboxes so this board can have multiple personalities. I watched my team rider, Logan Rahaut, on the first wave ever ridden on this board. He took off, blew the tail out on his first snap, then did a roundhouse to rebound, and then pumped down the line and did an air reverse and landed it! I just thought to myself, ‘Wow! We might have something good here!!’
Shawn’s Take As Robert mentioned in his Shaper’s Concept, mainstream board design has been heading towards shorter boards in recent years; moreover, pushing these shorter boards to surf everything from waist-high to double-overhead, not just groveling two-foot, onshore days, is a technical feat that is beckoning every inch of a board that’s only 5’2”. Robert’s most noticeable design element was the beveled, tucked edge along the bottom of the board along the rail lines. What’s quite interesting is, two other Evo Revo shapers -Zephaniah Carrigg and Josh Oldenburg -- all unbeknownst to one another, also designed an underside rail element, though none of these rail ideas were executed the same. The idea of Robert’s rail design was to give the board the feel of having a lot of concave in the board, which helps make the board agile, alive, and grippy through deep bottom turns, without giving up any forward drive down the line. That being said, flat equals fast, so to get the board to have an immense amount of drive, the belly of the board, especially underneath the surfer’s feet, had to be as flat as possible. However, where flat equals fast, curve equals performance; so, at the same time, to get a small board to surf grippy and fluid through quick turns, something had to get curvy, and the rails were the place Robert added curve. The only other board I’ve ridden this small in total volume was a 5’4” quad that
Robert had made me the year before, a White Diamond. The Future Fish, however, was a 5’2,” and Robert was touting how this board should be able to handle headhigh-plus waves, no problem. I’ll usually look for a step-up board when the waves get bigger, not a step-down board...or, at least, I first thought. The direct comparison of these two boards, the short, flat, stocky 5’4” White Diamond and this more narrow, pulled-in tail and concave rail designed 5’2” Future Fish really tells the story of Robert’s Evo Revo creation. The White Diamond was meant to terrorize flat-faced or peeling small waves with speed and quick-hipped maneuverability. On the other hand, the Future Fish, though it looked fairly similar to the White Diamond because both boards were so small, didn’t really like to surf crappy waves at all! Moreover, the Future Fish reveled more in waist-high or bigger surf. The Future Fish could handle up to eight-foot faces on a crispy day, whereas the little White Diamond quit working well around shoulder-high because it’s width and flat template were meant for sliding, not gripping. In contrast, the Future Fish was very flat through the center of the board... it had to be because it was so small, but that’s where the beveled rails changed everything; the belly was flat and fast, but the rail was curvy, grippy, and able to stick hard and drive deep in head-high-plus surf.
These design features have been done before, but, when put together, it has created a very functional yet unique board. 1
1. Logan Rahaut boosts on his first wave aboard the Future Fish. Photo: Terry Houston. 2. Robert Weiner (left) describes his 5’2 creation. Photo: E. Tracht. 3. Rail bevels, bumps, angles, edges, fins. Yew! Photo: Houston. 4. Mike McCabe, Future Fish R&D at Rincon. Photo: Lieberman. 5. Five fins free. Tracht. Photo: Javier Delgado.
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The Seven Finner
Von Sol REvolution
An absolute guru of surfboards, Mattison’s house is like a surf museum, displaying boards from Hot Curls to Bob Simmonses to lines with his own Von Sol designs. Starting back in the ‘90s, riding Malcom Campbell’s Bonzers, Mattison moved on from a pro surfing career and found himself really excited to ride different concepts. Mattison made it a quest to ride everything he could get his hands on to understand how and why boards work. This obsession with design, and being a self-professed “surfboard junkie,” is really the basis for owning a surfboard company that thrives on very functional, high-performance designs.
Shaper’s Concept | Sean Mattison The design that I did for this project is a sevenfin alternative performance design. I call it “The Board With 1,000 Faces.” I had the privilege to work on this with my lead shaper, Rob Brown. The concept was to take a board I designed called the “Shadow” and modify it to be able to be ridden with a number of different fin layouts. As surfboards evolve, we see how function is so very important to the rider, as these are very emotional crafts that affect us like no other. I have been the guinea pig for many “funky space age” new design projects over the years, and my emotion is always on my sleeve about what it did and why. Fins and the layout in multi-fin boards can be 60 percent of the board. Fin concepts are crazy important to the surfboard evolution. Why a seven-fin board? Progression of a design or new concepts always starts with an idea, then testing. We can change flex from one board to the next, rocker, outlines, construction, etc., but fins can change the board instantly >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel. 134 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
from common to “Oh my gosh!” Funny, Mike Hynson once told me that changing fins, in his opinion, is like changing wheels on a car. I feel that changing your fins relates so much more to the overall design than just changing your tires. If I said singlefin, twin-fin, tri-fin, or fourfin, most people would say what they think of that fin layout. Singlefins surf like singlefins no matter who makes them, because each layout or concept has a personality. The purpose of the board was to be able to make a board that WORKED in many different fin configurations and layouts. In my testing with this seven-fin board, I had 20 different fin setups available, incorporating Twinzer concepts, keels, twins, quads, five-, six-, and seven-fin configurations. Many times, we are focused on the body of the board and its construction, which is very important, but downgrade the fins’ importance. I am so STOKED that we did this board, because I had one board that surfed in so many different ways...WOW!
Shawn’s Take So, this seven-fin board, revolutionary and all, can be best described like this: It has a lot of fins in the water, by number (seven), but not necessarily a lot of fin in the water. You see, even though you have more fins, what I found is that the amount of drag, drive, release, and flow that comes from adding or subtracting fins is most greatly affected by how big each fin is, where it’s placed, and its relationship in distance to the other fins on the board. In essence, the Seven Finner with this configuration rode similar to a twin-fin, specifically a Twinzer, yet with added tracking and glide. Where bigger fins begin to work like rudders, these small “Nubster” fins just act like smooth tracking apparatuses. Imagine this seven-fin like the smooth flow of a high-speed train cresting around a long curve rather than a football player making a lightning quick change of direction. This type of fin setup required sort of an S-turny glide and flow rather than trying to pump the board down the line. Plus, unlike how a quad-fin fish can create it’s own speed out in the flats, this seven-fin, with two big twin-fins and five small enhancement fins, actually had less drive from the flats and a smoother, flowing feel in the curl. The way this board seemed to be meant to ride was from the curl, and always around the curl. When
dropping in, depending on the speed of the wave, the best way to get the seven fins tracking with this smooth flowing feel was to either fade the wave deep, behind the whitewater, using a long, drawn-out bottom turn to get to the curl, or to stand up, step on the tail, put on the E-brake, and wait for the wave to get bowly before “take-off.” This board rode differently than I visualized it would. Because the center Nubster fins were so small, when I pumped this board through open-faced flat sections, the board slid out from under me as if I was trying to pump a finless board. It was incredible that more fins didn’t equal enhanced grip and a stiff feeling. That being said, seven fins can mean anything. Furthermore, when I needed to increase stickiness and rigidity under my back foot, all I had to do was put bigger fins in the middle three finboxes. The bigger the fins, the more drag and drive. The smaller the fins, the more free flow and smooth tracking feel I received. The ultimate beauty of the Seven Finner is that, just because there are seven finboxes, you don’t always have to fill them up with fins. The seven finboxes just increase “the faces,” as Mattison puts it, that a Post Modern surfboard can have.
I had 20 different fin setups available, incorporating Twinzer concepts, keels, twins, quads, five-, six-, and seven-fin configurations. 1
1. Sean Mattison, take seven. Photo: Lance Smith. 2. Mattison with his Seven Finner engine. Photo: Tracht. 3. Change the fins, change the mind. Photo: Tracht 4. Tracht, smooth backhand push. Photo: Jason Rath. 5. “Aarr, gimme all your fins!” Photo: Tracht.
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At only 25 years old, Josh Oldenburg’s designs are classic, fluid, and dexterous. Oldenburg has been shaping as a sole profession for two years; however, he has spent many years in San Diego under many great craftsmen, shaping mostly alternative designs. The board Oldenburg shaped for Evo Revo was 5’9”, and I dubbed it the 5’9/ 9’5 because it looked like a longboard outline but, unbelievably, performed with characteristics of both a 9’5 log and a 5’9 shorty with the addition of Oldenburg’s double rail design.
Shaper’s Concept | Josh Oldenburg The board I created for Shawn was an arch tail square nose, which are both things that have been done before. However, I incorporated a tapering concave rail, which was my Evo Revo design exploration. The idea originated from looking at boards with chined rails. The extreme nature of a chined rail penetrating water inspired me to create a multi-surface rail. I had been kicking this idea around for awhile, and practicality was my largest deterrent. This article and a little push from Shawn provided me with the motivation to build this board. The theory behind the concave rail actually came from a ‘90s slalom waterski design. My first job was working at the old Kane Garden Surfboards factory, and, when the shop closed, the older guys told me to collect whatever was left when they were out. I actually found a bellyboard that had this concave rail idea, but the concave was in a much shorter section of the board, and it was over the tail. What I wanted to do is to create two hard edges where a traditional shortboard rail would be -- higher up towards the nose, past the fins. I wanted to create these two hard edges along the same rail contacting the face of the wave in separate spaces. Unlike traditional designs, >>Raul Hernandez, in the tornado funnel. 136 ¤ SLIDE ¤ EVO REVO
which have a transitioning rail that changes from a softer, round rail to a hard downrail towards the tail, the concave design has a softer, flat chine rail that transitions from flat to concave. Scooping out the center of the rail creates two hard edges at the middle and bottom of the tucked rail. The center of the rail remains concave, allowing water to flow uninhibited down the remaining surface of the rail line. The end result elongates the hard edges and allows the rail to penetrate the wave on multiple surfaces at the same time, creating a unique balance between slide and drive. It’s difficult to say if I see this design as a specialty design or something that could be incorporated into many more shapes. With the prototype, I incorporated many aspects that would make the board functional, such as volume, fins, and concave, all characteristics that were already tested. The rail actually working as well as it did was somewhat surprising and inspiring. I now believe that there is sound theory to support incorporating this rail into more modern/traditional shapes. Yet, no matter how much this idea progresses, it may be too off-the-wall to incorporate in all boards.
Shawn’s Take Between the Simmons-like characteristics of width, parallel lines, and a wide tail, this board was built to go fast. Add to that an extreme width and thickness, and you could see that the board was built for long, fifth-gear speed. That’s why the board could also be noseridden. The difference in this board came from the double rail design that Oldenburg added. He told me that the main rail was that of a fish or longboard, and the inside rail, closest to the stringer, was more reminiscent of a shortboard rail. What that did was give the board that smooth, full rail, down-the-line glide, yet also added the ability to accelerate much faster side to side than a normal Simmons-inspired board could do. This is because both of the effective rail lines would be contacting the water and would both help to drive the board faster out of turns. Oldenburg told me that this rail would engage on a deep, full pivot, not only through a smooth, gliding turn. He told me that when these two rails did engage, this thick, wide piece of foam would transition on a dime through turns to surf with a new progressive style in a seemingly retro-looking board. And it worked! I’ve never surfed such a big board with such wide, parallel rails so high-performance. On a long, stylish, flowing bottom-turn, the board would
glide, sort of in wait mode, for the surfer to pivot fully and engage the tuckedunder, sharp rail. As soon as that tucked under rail engaged, I swear this board shot straight up to the lip with shortboard projection. At the top of the lip, the board was very versatile, as well, but I never thought it would be able to allow for a full layback in the lip and late hits high off the lip. There were several surf sessions on the 5’9/9’5 in beachbreak closeouts, where a shortboard would usually be the right choice, and I can’t tell you how many times I would just throw this big board up past the lip, be whipped around through a tail drift, feel like there was no way to pull the turn, and then the board would scope in underneath me and I would ride the maneuver out! Lastly, as far as dispelling a first impression, the 5’9/9’5 did a great job there, too. Just goes to show you cannot judge a book, or a board, by its cover. Admittedly, I was disappointed when I received it, at first, sharing my best fake smile with Josh when he handed me the board. I immediately figured it was far too big for my 5’8” by 140-pound frame; however, over the next few months, I surfed it with pleasant and stoked surprise, and felt the Evolution of Revolution changing tides right under my feet.
The extreme nature of a chined rail penetrating water inspired me to create a multisurface rail. 1
1. Longboard flow and shortboard slash. Tracht on the 5’9/9’5. Photo: Schmidt. 2. Josh Oldenburg eyes his Evo Revo sled. Photo: Courtesy Oldenburg Surfboards. 3. Speed, drive, and flow. Tracht to the top. Photo: Schmidt. 4. Tracht fondles the multi-surface rail. Photo: Pfost. 5. Stretch-five trial by Tracht. Photo: Lieberman.
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Writer slash surfboard tester Shawn Tracht challenged eight shapers (between Santa Cruz and San Diego) to each design a board that went beyo...
Published on Mar 18, 2013
Writer slash surfboard tester Shawn Tracht challenged eight shapers (between Santa Cruz and San Diego) to each design a board that went beyo...