Nathan Florence, on the black-and-red Pyzel Padillac, with Jamie Mitchell along for the ride. Photo: Dunfee.
Nathan Florence, on the black-and-red Pyzel Padillac, with Jamie Mitchell along for the ride. Photo: Dunfee.

What He Rode: Nathan Florence and the Pyzel Paddilac

Nathan breaks down his go-to big-wave gun

We can’t get enough of surfboards. To add even more board-speak to your daily dose of surf news, “What He Rode” will be a recurring column in which we talk to a surfer and their shaper about the board they’re riding in a newsworthy photo or video clip.

To kick things off, we called up Nathan Florence, who charged opening day at Mavericks just a little over a week ago.

What were you riding out on opening day, Nathan?

I usually ride a smaller board out at Mavs. When I jumped off the boat at Mavericks last week, I was on a 9'5", but there was so much water moving that I turned around and went back to the boat because my 9'5" just felt too small. I got my 10'4", which I've had for 5 years. It was my first real bigger board. It's just been my favorite gun since I got it. It was a 4-fin setup, with two leash plugs, and I was using two leash strings with it, because it seemed like we were always having a problem with leashes breaking at the leash string. It's real thick, and I swear it must be double or triple glassed.

How did you and Pyzel arrive at that shape?

I was riding Stretch guns in the beginning [of my career] and John [Florence, Nathan’s brother] had always been riding Pyzels. He and John fine-tuned a board, a gun [for the winter in Hawaii], and then I saw one of John's newer shapes, and I went, 'Holy shit, that thing looks super sick." I ordered one that ended up being that 10'4".

What strengths do you feel like are unique to the design?

It has a real crazy beak nose on it because it carries the thickness all the way up into the nose. Pyzel had to shave a bit off from the nose, because it's so thick up there, and I think that makes it when you're paddling that you get on this plane when you get to a certain speed or when you're paddling for a wave. The board is just going. You can't really stop it once it starts. It gets this crazy momentum because of that thickness in the front.

[We then hit up Jon Pyzel for the design details, conditions best suited for the board, and more.]

What shape is Nathan on in the photo?

Nathan was riding a 10'4" x 20.75 x 3.63 quad called the Padillac.

What’s the background on this particular shape?

It’s a board that I developed with Mark Healey's feedback and have been refining for the past five years; he actually came up with the name, because it paddles so fast. Since then, Mark went on to win the XXL Paddle-In Wave Of The Winter, John won the Eddie, and Billy Kemper won the Jaws event two years in a row- all on the Padillac.

I have been making Nathan Padillacs for the last five winters, and he has a whole quiver of them, from 7'6" up to 10'5", that he rides at home and that he takes to big waves around the world.

What conditions are best for this shape, and why?

That size board is made for one thing only- getting you in early and giving you have as much control of the situation as possible in huge waves. We make a lot of these boards in smaller sizes, as well, like 8′ and up, for all kinds of surfers who like bigger waves.