Wednesday, September 22, 2010

TPS is moving!!!

I’m retiring from my “day job”, leaving North County San Diego and relocating to Ventura County at the end of September. I’m stoked to have more time to shape and surf.  I’ll still be offering great boards at a great price, and hope that my new location in Ventura County is more convenient to surfers north of LA, and for those of you east of Ventura. But I won’t forget my surfers in San Diego, Orange County and the IE.  I’ll be happy to personally deliver your board down south and share a few waves at my old breaks. I’ve also shipped boards as far away as the East Coast and have customers in Central America. What I’ve found is that there’s always a way to get that custom board into your hands.  Watch for the special offer I’ll be making in October for anyone who is currently riding a Thomas Patrick surfboard. 

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fin Placement - Single-fins

With all the small surf we've been having this summer, a lot of LBers are switching out their 2+1 set-up for a nice single-fin...but now where does that fin go? Fin placement has a major impact on the performance of any surfboard. Many surfers don’t realize this and simply leave their fin wherever it was placed when they bought their board. Or, they just place the fin anywhere in the box, assuming that its location is unimportant. The location of the fin relative to the tail can impact both speed and turning. For single-fin surfboards, some shapers recommend that the trailing edge of the fin be placed 8-1/2” from the tail, and then adjusted forward or backward from there in ¼” increments until the desired performance is achieved. Bill Thrailkill is a master shaper who shaped for both Hansen Surfboards and Hobie Surfboards in the late-60s and the 70s. He teaches people to lay the fin flat on the bottom of the board at the tail, with the base of the fin on the stringer and the tip hanging over the rail. Then he instructs people to slowly slide the fin along the stringer until 20%-30% of the tip hangs over the rail. This is the spot to locate the fin, and if you have a center fin box, you can adjust from there to your liking. What I like about Bill’s approach is that it automatically accounts for different fin depths and tail widths. 

Friday, September 10, 2010

Monday, September 6, 2010

Belly Up!!

Belly Boards are descendants of the short wooden planks called paipos which were ridden in the Hawaiian Islands 100s of years ago and are still ridden there today. The belly board is a foam and fiberglass version of the paipo. I bought a belly board in 1966 and used it to surf Huntington Pier during the summer when the blackball was up. This was before leashes and every wipeout led to a long swim to the beach to retrieve the belly board. I decided it was easier just to body surf. The following summer I shaped a BB from a broken longboard I found in the trash. Officially my first shape. Glassed and sanded it myself, and was making a fin for it. Unfortunately, someone stole it from my garage before I had a chance to finish it. 

So...a little over 40 years later I shaped this 51" beauty for my buddy Reef from SliderMag. Reef has a knack of talking me into shaping some really interesting boards, and this one is no exception. This board's design was inspired by the work of Larry Goddard who spent over 30 yrs perfecting belly boards ridden at the classic point breaks of California in the 70s, and later in large surf at Makaha and Wiamea on the North Shore of Hawaii in the 80s & 90s. Goddard painstakingly documented all of his experiments in BB design and published his work on the web a few years ago. Standing on the shoulders of this giant, I took some of Goddard's basic ideas and added a few tweaks of my own, specifically, bottom contours and rail shape. I also chose to use asymmetrically-foiled fins, toed-in about 1/8" over symmetrically-foiled fins set straight.

The design characteristics of the belly board, with its wide planing area and low rocker, make it one of the fastest surfcraft available. Belly boards are 6”-8” longer and have more volume than the modern foam body boards, and also have a stiffer flex pattern. They plane faster because of this. They also make full use of tail fins and can be built with any fin configuration. Fins give a belly board greater hold and greater responsiveness than foam body boards with no fins.

My T-Belly features a convex bottom in the front half which transitions to a flat middle and then “V” with single concave out the tail between the fins. This bottom shape allows the T-Belly to roll up on rail easily for turning, to plane smoothly and allows water to flow quickly across the bottom and out the tail. The rails are full to maximize volume, with soft and forgiving tucked-rails in the nose transitioning to a tighter tucked-rail in the middle and then to down-rails in the last 9” of the tail. The fins are set close to the rail about 2” off the tail, and serve as a pivot point for turns. Switching to a deeper set of twin fins provides the hold necessary for steeper and/or larger waves. The foil of the board keeps most of the volume under the rider’s shoulders, chest and hips, and the nose is scooped-out slightly to reduce swing weight. A light concave runs through the tail of the deck for better rider fit. The T-Belly is fitted with a leash cup about 4" below the nose. 

The T-Belly has a wide wave range from small, dumpy shore-break to as big as you can paddle into. Because of its size, it makes a great travel board. It can fit easily into the back seat or the trunk of your car. The T-Belly offers a unique riding experience. Riding prone reduces wind resistance for greater speed, and with your head just inches from the surface of the water, the sensation of speed is enhanced. If you like making little 2-ft, shore-break barrels, or want to experience breath-taking speed in larger waves, the T-Belly may be just what you’re looking for.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Some notes on noseriding…technique

So, now that you know why noseriding is possible it’s time to learn how. Obviously you start by having the right equipment, here the choices are pretty wide…any longboard will do. (Please keep in mind that the remainder of this discussion pertains to LB.) You’ve probably noticed by now that you turn a LB from the tail, but need to move forward in order to keep up with the speed of the wave. (note: Failing to move forward after turning usually causes the board to stall, and board and rider are soon overtaken by whitewater. This is a common mistake by novices, who erroneously blame their board for being too slow.) You’ve probably also noticed that the faster the wave is breaking, the further up towards the nose you need to be to keep up with it. Most surfboards have a spot somewhere along the length where all of the many curves of the bottom, rails and outline converge to provide maximum planing speed. On a LB this spot is usually just forward of center.

As a wave rises from swell and begins to pitch over, water rushes up the face. The speed of water moving up the face is greater as you get closer to the pocket (that spot 2 foot or so just in front of the spot where the lip has just pitched over.) You are going to utilize this upward flow of water to support your weight, so this where we want to get to. There are two basic ways of getting to this spot:
  1.  While in trim I maneuver my board to the upper third of the face by weighing the wave-side rail. Simultaneously, I move forward just enough to stay up with the speed of the wave, ideally just ahead of the pitching lip. So, my movement is towards the nose while weighing the wave-side or inside rail. I want the nose of the board to be heading upward as I move forward. This is important because it will keep me from pearling. If I get too high on the wave face, I un-weigh the rail either by slightly shifting my weight to my heels [regular-foot going right] or to my toes [goofy-foot going right]. I must keep the board in the upper third of the face where the force of the water flowing up the face will help to support my weight. Any lower and I may pearl/any higher and I may inadvertently pull-out or get pitched over by the lip.
    This is a good approach for learning the basic technique. A rider can gradually get the feel for trimming the board in the upper third of the wave while in a position forward of center. As you move closer to the nose, you’ll develop more confidence in the ability of your board to support your weight without pearling. But remember, you can’t make full or radical turns from this position. You can and should learn to make the subtle adjustments in direction that will allow you to stay in the steeper, upper-third of the wave. Focusing on the steepness of the wave just ahead of you, un-weigh the rail as the face flattens, causing the board to slow down a bit. As the breaking wave catches up to you and the face steepens in front of you again, weight is once more applied to the inside rail. This process is repeated indefinitely until the wave either closes-out or becomes so flat that you are forced to move backward to the tail and cut-back.
  2. Once you are comfortable moving to the nose from a forward trim position you’re ready for a more advanced maneuver. This maneuver starts with a good bottom turn after the initial drop-in. The radius of the bottom turn and the speed of the turn are timed to coincide with the speed of the wave. If the wave is particularly slow-moving I may want to “fade” or turn back towards the peak as I take-off.  This is just an opportunity to stall a little while the wave face steepens in the direction I ultimately want to go. Then I turn back, drop-in, and do my bottom-turn. In either case, as I come off the bottom, I hold the turn until I’m heading back up the face. My target is a spot just ahead of the pocket. As I head up the face, I start my move to the nose. Again, timing is of the essence. I want the nose to rising up the face before I move forward, and I want to be on the nose at precisely the same time that my board enters the upper third of the wave.  Piece of cake, right?

When learning to noseride, I recommend staying up on the nose as long as possible, even to the point of wipeout. It’s the best way you can learn the limits of your equipment, and you may be pleasantly surprised at how long you can be fully committed on the nose. I also recommend getting to the nose anyway you can, e.g. shuffle, skip, leap even. While “cross-stepping” to the nose is better stylistically, learning to “cross-step” is just about as difficult as learning to noseride. Save that for another time. Watch as many videos of surfers like Joel Tudor, Alex Knost and Jimmy Gamboa noseriding and pay attention to where their board is on the wave. Study the timing of their movements. Notice how the water flows over the tail and under the board. Then, get out in the water and try it!

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Some notes on noseriding…basic theory

One of the reasons, maybe the main reason, I ride a longboard is because I like to noseride. For me there’s no greater enjoyment in surfing than planing across the face of a wave with nothing in front of you but the wave. Well, sure, turning is fun, going fast is fun and dropping in on an overhead wave and cranking that big bottom turn is really fun. But to me, perching on the tip with the wind in your face and the lip hissing in your ear is pretty hard to beat. But it seems impossible to accomplish.

Nose riding isn’t too difficult if you understand how it’s possible. First you must understand that in most cases, only about 2’-3’ of the bottom of your board is “working” at any one time; that is to say, “planing” along the surface of the water.  And that’s the 2’-3’ directly beneath your feet. This is much more the case when you are trimming across the face or turning, then when you are just paddling. Surfboards have a curved bottom, and when there is enough forward motion, the board actually rises out of the water or begins to plane. On a longboard (LB) you move back and forth, shifting that 2’-3’ zone and taking advantage of differing rocker curves, rail shape and outline shape to speed up, slow down or turn. Wherever you are standing you are also applying your bodyweight in a downward force due to gravity. (On a shortboard there’s no need to move other than subtle weight-shifting back and forth. All the “work” is taking place in the back-half of the board.)

For noseriding, what’s going on at the tail of the board is just as important as what’s happening at the nose. Once the LB has been turned across the face of the wave and the wave begins to break, the tail of the board is covered with whitewater. The weight of this water on the top of the tail of the board is an important ingredient to the successful noseride. It helps to counter the weight of the surfer on the nose, much like a partner on a teeter-totter.  The bottom of the tail “kicks” or curves up abruptly in the last 20” or so. The flow of water along this part of the bottom creates suction, pulling the tail of the board down into the water (hold the convex side of a spoon against the stream of water from a faucet to demonstrate this suction. Notice how the spoon is drawn into the water flow), and complimenting the weight of the breaking wave on the deck. Then there's the fin, which ideally is wide and deep. It helps by keeping the tail anchored in a position on the wave where the water flow will hold down the tail. Finally, there is the physical weight of the tail-half of the board. Try picking up your board by the nose and you’ll immediately feel the weight of the tail. Remember what I said above about the work being done by the 2’-3’ beneath your feet? Well, when you’re on the nose, the 6’-7’ feet or so behind you is on the other side of an imaginary fulcrum.  That’s a long lever that multiples the downward effect of the all tail action. (And that’s also why there is an advantage to longer, heavier boards for noseriding)  As you can see, there’s a lot going on behind you.

Up front, on the nose, is where you hope to be. Some boards have a wide nose (18.5”+) for more planing area, and a concave on the bottom for added “lift” (do the faucet and spoon thing again, only this time hold the concave side of the spoon in the stream of water. Notice how the spoon wants to lift away from the water flow). Of course, you can noseride on a narrow nose with no concave, but the wide-nose with concave seems to work better when noseriding in small, mushy waves. Another nose design feature is the so-called “wing-nose” which features a hard, down-rail edge in the first 6” of the nose. This creates a wing-like profile in the shape of the nose, with curve on the deck-side and flat on the bottom-side. Water and/or air moving across such a nose shape is said create upward lift, at least theoretically.

Finally, the shape of the outline and the rails also serves to enhance noseriding. Most modern LB, like my Nova, have a continuous curve in the outline. The more classic-shaped LB, like my Neo, have much less curve in the outline and can be almost straight. These shapes are sometimes referred to as “popsicle sticks” due to their almost straight, parallel rails. The straighter rail line holds a straighter line across the face of the wave which aides noseriding.  Likewise, 50/50 rails hold into the wave face better than down-rails, and help to keep the rail from sliding down the wave-face.

So we have the weight of the surfer on the nose countered by the downward force on the tail (weight of water+weight of board + suction created by rocker) and upward force at the nose (lift from nose concave). Now, it’s just a question of getting from the tail to the nose.

Next: Noseriding Technique according to tp