How to Shape a Keel-Fin Gun w/ Christian Beamish

SURFER contributor Christian Beamish testing his keel-fin creation at Mavericks. Photo: Van Swae

The keel-fin gun represents a convergence of various design influences, most significantly, from the work of Bob Simmons and Pat Curren. Having noted the speed and drive generated by a 6’2″ version of a "mini-Simmons" keel-fin I had shaped, it seemed likely that those solid characteristics would translate to the big-wave realm. As beautiful a craft as the original 10′ Simmons is, with its wide planing surface, elliptical rails, and semi-displacement hull, it would nevertheless be a lot of board to put over the ledge of a "serious" big wave at a place like Todos Santos or Mavericks. So the concept of a sleeker model began to form. Then I realized that the 1957 10’7″ Pat Curren gun shared many of the Simmons qualities: somewhat parallel rails, a light roll or displacement aspect to the forward part of the hull, and, compared to most big-wave boards of today, a generally "fuller" outline. It seemed logical to me that with 13 inches lopped off the tail, the famous Curren Waimea gun would begin to resemble the Simmons keel fin. The single keel on the Curren gun would be "split in two" and re-set as double-foil keels out by the rail. The end result are the 9’6″ and 10’6″--extra tail rocker shaped in to compensate for the concave between the keels, round bellies and soft rails for forgiveness on chancy take-offs, and a wide overall planing surface which allows the boards to retain momentum through the drop and directly into the bottom turn.