Searching For Goldilocks
The backyard shed is a retirement home for surfboards. We keep our day-to-day boards in the bedroom, garage and cars for easy access. But the shed is where boards go when the seasons change, a new model is released or a crease renders them unsurfable. The dust gathers, and we forget.
During the making of this issue I went into the shed to visit some forgotten friends. A lineup of a half-dozen rideable shortboards greeted me, and over the month I rode every one of them and rediscovered each one's shortcomings — too big, toosmall, too loose, too stiff. Back to the shed they went, awaiting their inevitable Craigslist fate.
But in the back of the shed there was a board that was not too big or too small or too loose or too stiff — it was too perfect. The Goldilocks board, that immaculate Flyer II. I remembered the first time I rode it, on a fun spring day at a San Diego beachbreak. There was no "getting used to it." No, "It feels good, but…" No buts. It was crisp and alive and to this day I haven't surfed as well as I did that first session. That board and me — that was it. Till death do us part. I do. But today I look at the deck, crushed in from a thousand bottom turns, the repaired broken nose and the buckled tail, and I mourn. Death did us part. RIP, that immaculate Flyer II.
I have the numbers for that board. The folks at Channel Islands could plug them into their computer, have the machine pop out the same outline and somewhere along the way it would morph into something different. Matt Biolos and Darren Handley explain why in "Two Shapers Walk Into a Bar", Pg. 68. It's a matter of inconsistent materials (mostly the stringer) and too many variables (in an eight-step process) to ensure perfect replication. Yes, there are shapers experimenting with more consistent and stronger materials, but if you're like most surfers, you want a board made of polyurethane foam and fiberglass.
But isn't this inconsistency something we're more or less addicted to by now? Or at least, used to? Every board is different the same way every wave is different. Five swells that are forecasted to be 6 feet at 17 seconds from 280 degrees will be different every time thanks to tides, winds, secondary swell and sandbars. It's why we get up in the morning and check it, because it could be really good, and when it is, there's no greater satisfaction. And five boards that are 5'9" x 18 1/2" x 2 3/8" are going to be unique thanks to stringer wood, foam density and glassing temperature. It's why we order new boards and ride them in hopes that they will be magic, because there is no better feeling than a surfboard that is right from the first wave. It's why I sent them that board's numbers — because hope is a beautiful thing. —Taylor Paul
Inside this Issue
Pg. 68 Two Shapers Walk Into A Bar
At noon on a Friday, in the closest bar to Lower Trestles, shapers Matt Biolos and Darren Handley enjoy some icy beverages and discuss their craft. They talk about the perks and pitfalls of working with the best surfers, the future of surfboards, Kelly Slater, women surfers and more. They heckle, commend, complain, and more than once shed light on how our favorite toys go from chunks of foam to boards beneath our feet. Interview by Zander Morton. Interview by Zander Morton.
Pg. 82 Under The Top 32
Thirty-four percent of World Tour surfers ride boards the same height as them. Twenty-one percent ride Channel Islands surfboards. Twelve percent order between 81 and 100 boards per year. All this and more in a look at what the best surfers ride at the most rippable wave in the world. Portraits by Steve Sherman. Interviews by Beau Flemister.
Pg. 90 I’ve Been Riding This Little…
A gratuitous photo feature wherein the subjects of each image finish the sentence, "I've been riding this little…" No matter the answer, it seems to be working for all of them.