Friday, January 20, 2017


I've been working on a pair of experimental boards inspired by two of my favorite space-cadets, Mick Mackie and George Greenough.  I spent the first half of this winter riding a 7'10 edge gun (GG kind, big edge, flat deck, fat rails), and have more recently had my mind bent by a 6'10 Mackie sidecut fish (EPS).  The two boards at first glance share little in common, but after spending some really flawless and similar days on both boards I found the sensations and attributes of each weren't too far apart, and could likely borrow from each other somehow.  Both boards have an extreme hydroplane effect - the Mackie using the front end of the board for paddle power and lift, then the side-cut and tail providing all the looseness and speed one could ever ask for once the board is on plane (of course, this is oversimplifying the complexities of the design).  
The edge bottom gun does something similar in the way that the front end of the board provides seemingly limitless amounts of lift, and the tail end is the operating zone, where you pilot this big missile-board from (oversimplified but you get the idea).  

Being that our local waves are fast, smallish, and steep, both boards seemed to have small drawbacks that didn't limit the boards potential, but absolutely opened doors in my mind for how to modify the shape to explore something new for myself that might kind of work.  Like I said this is an experiment, and to quote GG, "nothing ventured, nothing gained."
I want to be clear also, that the design here was meant to accomplish one thing - Lots of connectivity, with extremely clean realease while planing at high speed in above average, fast, down the line conditions.  The idea wasn't to make the perfect board, but to chase a feeling.  'Peak Moments', as Mick describes them.  Maxed out sensations in specific situations and conditions.
The idea was to take the Mackie's tail end which felt flawless and fast, and use the edge bottom design to lift the forward part of the outline out of the water once at speed - thus lessening the effect of the slight bulge in the outline while driving hard down the line off the front foot.

Just before Mick left Santa Barbara a few weeks back, he and I got a chance to visit a small collection of 80's Greenough windsurfers that had just been purchased by a local collector - After thinking about mashing these two designs together it hit me that a big, releasing wing like the ones on George's old high-speed sail boards would provide the necessary room for the tail end of this idea to operate on its own, and at the same time allow some of the extremeness of the outlines curves to be lessened - The hard edge nose to tail on Mick's fish was basically stretched and narrowed, then set into the outline of a kind of speed-egg of sorts.
The venture here was not to make a board that was better or perfect or even super 'useable' - but more to see if I couldn't combine some of the new favorites in my quiver, that seemed like they could enjoy some of the benefits of the other, and make an excruciatingly fast, positive, responsive SOMETHING that would keep me entertained and excited during a few week long flat spell.  Lots of my favorite boards have come out of a need to shake it up a little and this pair follows suit.  Averaging 2-3 hand-shaped boards per day 5-6 days a week, shaking it up a bit every now and then is a must!
There is a lot more physical exploration to do with these (by that I mean surfing!) and I'm hesitant to say too much before they've been surfed into the ground, but after a few sessions on the 7' (shaped out of Varial foam) I'm extremely optimistic about the smaller (EPS foam), which should hit the water tomorrow as this swell fills in.  So far it feels lively and connected off the tail, with the highlight of a ride being a biiiiig long swooping kind of line top to bottom.  We've been filming the sessions, and there will be a follow up video of the build and first few surfs with multiple different surfers - we'll have to be patient for that one, as the waves have to cooperate too ;)

The 7'10 edge gun

The board on the left is the 6'10 EPS Mackie Designs fish that I've become so fond of in the last two weeks.

Greenough sail board detail - all surfaces are convex, all edges extremely crisp and clean.
Super efficient and I can only imagine super fast!!

The 7' - shaped out of Varial foam.  note the edge includes the side-cut, making the board transition onto rail super clean and quick.

Mid-glassing the 7'.  Polyester resin, Varial foam, carbon fiber + kevlar flex panel tail.  In this photo I was filing the final layers on the tail before hotcoat and sanding.  The layers for the tail were added two at a time and let cure before deciding to add more or not - the final layup is about 8 layers, staggered, and layed up on the bias.  Very soft with a long accelerating curve when flexed - no hinge.

The 5'8 ( x 19" x 2 1/2") EPS foam, epoxy resin.  Double layer 4oz bottom, 6+4oz deck with a carbon deck patch, and the carbon flex tail.  This tail's flex is much snappier, and the length of the panel shorter, figuring that since its a smaller board, it'll be surfed in shorter, quicker lines than the larger version.  After surfing the 7', I'm encouraged about the possibilities of the 5'8.

You can see a clip of Trevor Gordon swooping on the 7' here:

Me on one of the better waves I got during the first session, lots of speed to burn, though theres little accounting for the turd trying to burn it :)


Big Fish said...

Hi Ryan, in the early 80's I worked up on the Great Barrirer Reef on Heron Island for 3 1/2 years and met Gerorge when he was there for 2 weeks filming a TV commercial for Sprite of all things. I was his safety waterman and boat driver can you believe.He had one of his spoon edgeboard windsurfers with him and would go out in the afternoons on it. It had a stainless steel fin and car inner tube rubber insert across the fish tail that filled in the butt crack. Never figured out what that was for. It was not a big board and with very little flotation. If the wind died he would blow up a mat and it velcroed onto the deck to get him started for home.

He had a big red box shaped camera housing he had used for filming Big Wednesday and would film by having it supported on a half inflated mat as he filmed this couple snorkeling. Between takes and weather stops we fished and talked surfing.

thesweetpath said...

The rubber inner tube material is all about water flow. Early GG spoons were rounded square tails. Unfortunately that left a lot of material behind the fin that inhibited flex and release. So it was cut out in a vaguely "fish-style" shape which provided better flex control. However, the water flow around the single fin required "direction" or turbulence would be problematic. The answer, a piece of inner tube - flexible, not very stretchable - problem solved.