Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Of Zeus, NPR, and New-Model Shredding

Zeus was a tricky, horny trickster. One time he appeared to Leda in the form of a swan, snuck into her bed, and did some stuff so that later she laid some eggs.
Interestingly, her husband was also in bed doing stuff that particular evening, so when the twin boys hatched from their eggs, they were considered part divine, part mortal.
Leda called them Castor and Pollux, which probably sounded better with a Greek accent. They were transformed into the constellation Gemini so they could always be together.
What does this have to do with surfing? Technically, nothing.
But late last night in my shop as the dust swirled and lines were drawn, I was thinking about the twin fundamentals of our sport--the Trim and the Glide. The Castor and Pollux of our sport. Inseparable, immortal, they shine down on us from a surfy heavens.
Hopefully, their bastard stepsister (Helen of Troy) will shine down as well: the Shred.
Damn!
It's not often we get an action image with my logo on it. Not because my clientele aren't continuously schralping hot curls--they are!--but because they tend to seek out the foggy, the remote, the mysto spookzones that tend to discourage photography. This ain't SoCal.
However, sometimes the skies clear and the swell lines up and local stokemeisters like Chris (pictured above and below) get an itch to sample a not-quite-Northcoast spot that sees the occasional telephoto on the beach.
Chris is shredding this week's featured board: the NPR.
The NPR is an offshoot of the Clover, which is a great head-highish and under shred machine. Last winter I shaped myself a more streamlined version for larger waves that featured a slightly different rocker profile, adjusted thickness flow, and a modified bottom contour. It was dubbed the Clover PR, for Pocket Rocket.
Not the best model name, for sure, but I didn't have time to come up with a better one. The surf was crackin!
It looked like this:
6'9
I dug it. A few folks tried it out, then ordered their own. A few tweaks later, and a few more folks ordered them until a bunch were ordering them and it deserved its own name. The NPR, or Northcoast Pocket Rocket, is a full-volumed aquatic fun machine designed for waves that are on the head high to well overhead range. They've been ridden with everything from one to five fins. I like mine as a quad, but that's just me.
When local shredder Chris ordered his, he went full Glasser's Choice on it, and we handed it off to Patrick at Northern Light, who did a bang-up job making it look right.
6'10
Brown opaque bottom wrap and a lovely robin's-egg-blue deck tint. Classic!
After the maiden session. Not heel dents on the deck, just a stoked-out wax job by someone who couldn't wait to get in the water and do this:
 Damn!



Thursday, February 5, 2015

Urban Legend

PitBoss for local shredder, climber, surf instructor, paramedic, public intellectual, and twelve-pack ab muscle enthusiast, Urban.
Urban's glassing order card said, "Earth tones. Glasser's choice," and this is what the fine folks at Almar Surf Works came up with.
Urban picked up a new board and declared his love to a long-time lady friend around the same time. It was a big week for the guy.
The PitBoss is not meant for small waves.
Or medium waves, really.
Any surfboard with more than one leash plug should give one pause.
This one's seven feet long, and features all the goods that one needs for Waves of Increased Consequence on the Northcoast: a little extra foam under the chest for our ridiculous paddle-outs when there's a jump in the buoys. Foam forward also gives the board a nice momentum when driving down the line--almost a 'pulling' feeling with the right bottom contour. Finally, it's nice to be able, while paddling out, to raise your chest up a little higher so that you can scan the foggy horizon for dark lines marching toward your suddenly tiny, suddenly cold, suddenly lonely body, floating at sea, hoping for a gift from the surf gods that could suddenly change everything.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Axe Handling

In his poem Axe Handles, California poet Gary Snyder (whose intimate 70th birthday party I crashed and got loaded on sake because he was in love with my at-the-time girlfriend) helps his son make a new handle for an axe head that was lying around.
The tool to do this? An axe.
The complete axe shapes the new handle, and also serves as a model for the tool he's making.
He recalls Ezra Pound, who wrote, "when making an axe handle/the pattern is not far off."
True that.

Because he's Gary Snyder, he muses on the moment, concluding: "Pound was an axe...I am an axe, And my son a handle, soon to be shaping again, model and tool, craft of culture, how we go on."
Ezra Pound shaped him, he is shaping his son, his son will--in turn--shape his own children. This is how we craft culture--modeling ourselves to future generations. In doing so, we get a cool axe to make more shit with.
Perhaps the zen-like purity of making an axe handle with your child is a bit clouded by the mini-me narcissism of the poem's central message, but it's nice to think about during the more challenging moments of parenthood.
For instance: on Friday, my five-year-old drew a (remarkably accurate...I think mirrors were involved) likeness of special ladyparts on the living-room wall. In Sharpie.
After the initial shock, then a brief period of inquiry, then an accompanying period of overthink followed by a web search, we removed the offending image together with toothpaste (thanks, Google!).
At one point I looked down at my youngest child, her sweet, sausagey, cherubic fingers busily scrubbing genital graffiti off our wall with Crest Whitening, and thought, "what the fuck?"
It was later I recalled Snyder and Pound and found some comfort.

Also finding comfort in the craft of culture this week is Rick.
Rick ordered up an 11ft, Skip-Frye inspired Glider. Although I didn't have the original item in front of me, I did have a handsome interpretation by Larry Mabile, which I used as a model. Frye to Mabile to my own hands. I am still very much an axe handle, but these masters before me are most certainly axes.
Also an axe is Rick, evidenced here passing on some new-board stoke and first-waxing tips to the next generation of surf shredders, led by his grandson.
This is how we go on.

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

Thanksgiving!
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

Before.
After.

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!