I’'ve been riding the same surfboard, day in and day out, for the last two years.
A sweet 5'’10”" quad with a plump outline and forgiving curves, it'’s perfect for Florida, where waves in the two-to six foot range occur with mindless regularity and a bit of extra foam always goes a long way. There's about ten pounds of dog hair stuck on the deck, owing to my two furry mutts. And what little wax is still left is frankly ranker than a hippie’s bare feet after a jam-band festival.
But I love this board -– the shortest I'’ve ever owned, the fastest I'’ve ever owned, definitely the most enjoyable I’'ve ever owned. I felt like a million bucks when I ordered it, talking design characteristics with Chris Birch over Sierra Nevadas at our local bar and eventually picking up the finished product from his house just a few miles down A1A. I see Chris every now and then around town, and he always throws in a “"How’s she riding?"” with his standard hello. I daydream sometimes, imagining that my so-so surfing ability will convince someone else to order one and put me even further into Birch’s good graces: "“I saw this guy on this little green quad absolutely ripping the other day…”..."
No matter my fantasies, I’'m proud of my tight-knit bond with this board. But I think like many everyday surfers (especially here on the East Coast), I might be adhering to a dangerous level of monogamy. The only tour I’'m on, after all, is the Home-To-Work-To-Home-Tour – I haven'’t got a single reason in the world to ‘"dial in"’ my equipment. So maybe an open relationship, a torrid affair, a juicy fling with an unknown shape might do my surfing good.
In the course of finishing this issue, I’ve somehow been pushed farther outside my comfortable surfing existence than ever before. After writing about the Daytona Beach, FL, free thinkers at Peninsula Holding Company, I’'m tempted to go nuts and order a sub-five-foot mini-Simmons. After reading Jon Coen’'s intimate piece about Grain Surfboards and their magnificent New England woodworking, I'’m dying to catch the buzz of actually building and riding my own waterborne creation. Hell, after going deep with Matt Pruitt into this winter’s phenomenal big-wave season, I even contemplated joining Skudin, Schweizer, and company for a North Shore run with my rhino chaser in tow.
Then I came back down to Earth on a fun, four-foot Florida day last weekend, when a peaky wind swell met a stiff offshore wind for a scandalous late-afternoon rendezvous. As always, I went right for old faithful, passing up a fish, a single-fin, a log, a thruster, and even an old-school kneeboard/ paipo hybrid I'’m dying to test drive this summer. Maybe it’'s my embarrassing lack of knowledge about the true intricacies of surfboard design that keeps me on such a regular schedule. Or maybe it's the undeniable fun factor inherent in that 5'’10" quad.
Either way, I'’m heartened to know there are shapers like Jesse Fernandez, Ricky Carroll, Adam Warden, and Shawn Vecchione putting their lifelong Hawaiian R&D to the test building ten-foot guns for a growing East Coast hell crew. I’'m encouraged by craftsmen like Grain’s Mike LaVecchia and Brad Anderson, who'’ve taken a niche interest and turned it into a resounding success, one that’'s fully sustainable and (dare I say it) totally soulful. I’'m inspired by Chad Doyle, Trey Edwards, and Robert Stafford of Peninsula Holding Company, three outside-the-box surfers eager to sample and build every variety of surfcraft under the sun. And I’'m motivated by the knowledge that there are hundreds of other East Coast shapers out there anxious to fulfill one goal in life: turn the everyday surfer onto the right board for the right conditions. It’s easy equation for anyone to follow: open-minded + good board = fun. What more do you need to know?
That’s what Chris Birch did for me with one magic 5'’10”" quad. And surely my devotion to the board is only a testament to his abilities. But this issue has forced me to realize that seeing other people can only further cultivate our collective surfing existence.
So have a look around the pages of the annual “"Surfboard Issue.” " Maybe you’'re looking for air on a shortie, bite on a gun, glide on a log, velocity on a quad, sideslip on a boogie, or cruise on SUP. No matter what, some shaper out there is, in the immortal words of LL Cool J. “"Doin’' it and doin'’ it and doin'’ it well.”"
And with a visit to your local surf shop, or a quick phone call or e-mail to your preferred craftsman -– maybe even a few beers at the local watering hole if you’re lucky -– that shaper will probably have you doin'’ it well and having fun in no time.
Nick McGregor, Eastern Surf Magazine Editor