Kelly Slater talks about his Deep Six Shortboard, the 5’6″ Al Merrick that he won the Pipeline Masters this year on in 8-10 ft. Hawaiian Surf. Kelly’s been pushing new boundaries with board design and finding smaller and shorter boards to ride in bigger surf. The video of him at Pipe with this board is worth the watch.
Alaias are ancient wooden surfboards used by Polynesians and Hawaiians when they first started surfing. A few shaper including Thomas Campbell and Tom Wegener have started shaping the boards again and re-introduced them to the surfing community. In the second video clip Tom Wegener talks about how he grows the materials used to shape the board sustainably. It’s incredible to see surfers like Dave Rastovich and Dan Malloy ripping on these boards.
You’ve probably heard the news by now that Kelly Slater won his sixth Pipeline Masters (adding to his 9 world titles). The finals were Slater vs. Chris Ward. The surf pumped for most of the contest and Slater, deciding the push the limits of the reason in board size, surfed a 5’11″ Channel Islands “Deep Six” board throughout the contest in 8-10 ft. Hawaiian Surf (Transworld Surf story). That’s the size surf at Pipeline that most of us wouldn’t consider paddling out in, let alone on a 5’11″ board.
You know the surf forecast is bad, when a surf forecasting blog writes a post on ding repair instead of a surf forecast. SoCal Surf Forecast blog has a great post on ding repair, taking you through all the steps to do solid repairs and make your stick good as new. They’re a great source for surf forecasts for SoCal, Northern California, and Baja.
There’s no question Stand up paddle surfing is about to go mainstream. Board prices have come down significantly and its becoming more and more visible. USA Today has an article that talks about Laird Hamilton’s involvement and promoting the sport. What’s becoming apparent of the sport is that is has the potential to be a true mainstream sport and accessible to a huge range of people that wouldn’t have considering surfing. Here’s a link that talks about SUP in lakes and rivers. The USA Today quotes Laird Hamilton as saying that SUP “will be bigger than surfing.”
I tried Stand up paddle surfing (SUP) last week for the first time and was pretty impressed. I got up cruised around a bit in fairly choppy water at Sunset and made a weak attempt at paddling into a wave. What was more impressive was watching a friend of mine, a girl who’s been learning surfing for a few months, stand up on the board and blaze back and forth on the thing. SUP have the huge advantage for lighter surfers. So while I was struggling a bit, Cristina was cruising along effortlessly. Not surprisingly, she loved it.
It was seeing that and hearing about another friend of mine, also new to surfing, getting hooked on SUP that made me see the real future in the sport. I’ve tried to teach dozens of friends of mine to surf. Usually they go out once or twice, maybe catch some whitewater, then later get frustrated by the crowds and how difficult it really is to catch a wave in most places. It’s completely discouraging sport to learn anytime after you’re 20 years old.
SUP is relatively easy to learn and people can appreciate a lot of aspects of surfing without hassling with crowds, learning new surf breaks, and getting worn out just paddling the board out. Just paddling around on the board is fun, and likely to get more people who weren’t likely to stick with surfing to do it.
SUP does have a few drawbacks. It’s currently expensive to get a set-up ($1200-1500 for the board and $300-500 for the paddle). It’s a bitch to haul the stuff down to the beach especially for lighter surfers. And it’s definitely going to cause some tension in the line-ups. In spite of these draw-backs, I believe it can have true mass appeal. As more people give it a try, more people will be out enjoying surfing and the ocean and hopefully supporting the causes most important to surfers like clean water, protection of threatened breaks, and protection of marine life. The risk of dozens of SUP surfers crowding line-ups exists, but surfing has always policed itself. The beauty of SUP is how it enables surfers to take in the surroundings and appreciate a view point other than inches from the water. SUP surfer can also cover a lot of ground relatively easily, so hopefully a lot of them will be surfing in area out of the way and more difficult to get to.
$5/gallon gas has everyone bummed especially surfers. The AP published an article talking about how the price of gas and oil is having an effect on surfers and the industry. In truth, how many of us live walking or biking distance from our local break. More often most of us pack up a car or truck every week or so and motor off to the best wave within driving distance. Driving distance to surfers is a liberal term, but now that a tankful is between $75-100 we might start to see fewer trips to the distant breaks. Rising gas prices are also likely to cut into liberal expenditures, like surfboards. The surfboard industry grew rapidly in 2002-2007, but they’re likely to be hit by the recession that the rest of the country has been feeling. The resin used to gas surfboards is made from oil, so shapers’ costs are rising while consumer spending is dropping. Interestingly, the AP article reported that Surftech reported a 15% increase in sales while most other surfboard shapers and manufacturers reported flat or declining sales. I wonder if it because surfers want whatever board their going to buy to be durable so they won’t have to buy another soon. Surfline.com, in the meantime, has seen an increase in views of their webcams and on their subscription services. How is gas and the economy effecting your surf habits?
With all the space-age technology going into surfboards these days (including the collapsible carbon fiber board), you wouldn’t expect the next step in shaping innovation to be cardboard. Mike Sheldrake, a surfer and computer programmer is San Diego, took a novel approach to building a better surfboard: he researched aerospace design and used 3-D computer modeling software to to design a snap-together deck built out of 400 pieces of computer cut corrugated cardboard. He then covered it with fiberglass and epoxy resin. Thanks to a mathematically sound triangular pattern, force is evenly dispersed throughout the board—making it incredibly strong. The design and construction avoid the use of expensive tools, making it cheap and easy to assemble. The result is a cheap, strong design made primarily from sustainable materials and one that’s remarkably beautiful. [Youtube videos below show assembly of the board after jump]
No one seemed to be crying for a collapsible surfboard, but engineers decided to preempt our interests and beat us to the punch. Nicholas Notara (huh?) designed the quirky, yet beautiful board, which will likely costs what you’d pay for five Merricks. The kit comes with 300 hundred or so pieces and takes about 8 weeks of your time and a physics degree to assemble. Once assembled you can commence to shred some distant exotic surf break.
The concept does have some merit. However, I was unable to find any info Googling “Nicholas Notara” and C2 Surfboards. The idea is hugely popular on tech blogs. That and a complete absence of Mr. Notara in anything having to do with surfboards make me wonder whether the project was an exercise in photoshopping rather than construction. I will give him credit that it looks pretty sick, very James Bondish. So next time you have to parachute into at night to surf a remote break, bring the C2 along.
We’ve all had shark fears in the water. For $645, the Shark Shield promised us a future of worry-free surf sessions and explorations of waves and coasts no one would consider surfing now. The term “Sharky” would be a term of the past. Well, don’t hold your breath.
Turns outs one of the Shark Shields was eaten whole by a female great white in testing off South Africa. Shark Shield Test
Who hasn’t had shark jitters in the water while surfing? I was surfing Manhattan Beach last September during an epic combo swell right after Labor Day where the water was warm and amazingly clear when a shark swm right underneath me. I saw the shape, looked down and it saw right below me, turned slowly around in front of me and swam back underneath me. It was at last 5 feet (it honestly looked a lot bigger than that, but no one would be believe if I told them that I bumped fins with an 8 or 10 ft white shark at Manhattan Beach). Needless to say, I paddled straight in. I shouted to the guy 20 yards away from me, who that I was a kook. As I looked back over my shoulder, I saw its dorsal fin above the water heading away from me. I never expected to see my first shark surfing in SoCal especially after surfing San Francisco and NorCal for 10 years!
I know I’ve got a list of spots I’d want to paddle out to, where would you surf if you could have a shark repelling device guaranteed to work?