Saturday, May 26, 2012

Drawing a Blank

Arctic Foam, formally Surf Blanks America rebounds back as my top pick as best poly surfboard blank. This time they followed Midget's formula without cutting any corners and have earned my #1 rating. Millennium is right up there, my brand new 7'9 egg shaped by Hoy is carved from it and fit for a king. U.S. Blanks are hanging in but have some slight softness or lower density issues . All of the blanks we use have improved on over all coloration.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Shooting Blanks

Looks to me like our worst fears are coming into perish ion. U.S Foam, is staying very consistent showing slight to subtle improvements. Surf Blanks America, while still holding in there. Is instead of being the stronger foam of the two seems to be having some issues with shrinkage, coloration and small stringer blows. Rumor has it they may have compromised quality to save a buck or two on the materials end of things. I still recommend the Blair/King Mac blanks their new name is, Millennium. The bad thing is that a monopoly is looming. On the good thing list, good old, great riding poly boards are here to stay at least for a while.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

M.A. Update

Inconceivable how things change in such a short time in surfboard construction these days. My two favorite blanks as of a few short months ago have gone vamoose. Ice9 is kaput, King Mac may or may not be back as a, formally known as, blank. To bad for us because the more foam choice's we lose the more we go back to the same old, same old. U. S. Blanks and Surf Blanks America [ the later made in Mex ] seem to be our strongest suppliers. One bit of encouragement is that consumer confidence in ordering quality custom surfboards at least from our factory is on the rise. News flash, now in King Mac has partnered up with BLAIR FOAM in order to create a more stable high quality surf blank co. We have confirmation it has been confirmed as of a couple months ago. Thank goodness its a marriage made in poly heaven.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

SEXY SURFBOARDS, Off the Rack: scope em out

Most surf shops carry a wide variety of brand new surfboards. The here, the now, the happening the retro, longboards, guns, fishies, eggs, mid-range, concept boards, soft ones and epoxy ones, etc. Oh my, which one to choose. My advice back when there was less to pick from was, the one you just gotta have. That Channin / Diffenderfer semi-gun standing there in the corner with that Corvette red tint on the bottom and rails I can't live without. If you love it's looks, generally you'll love the way it rides. It might have been a bit tricky to surf on when the waves were tiny but that was still my take on purchasing a board off the rack. Now days I tend to look a bit closer. Think about what I really long for, for longer. When I'm finally ready to make that board mine I will require that it goes through an extensive nose to tail physical before making that final commitment. Here's how we do it, most shops have a set of well padded floor racks to set the board gently on. Hopefully placed under good lighting where you can see the elongated bulbs reflecting on the boards surfaces. Have the sales person secure the fins into the boxes. Check around the boxes for excessive air and for voids in the paste like filler that borders them. View the tail area looking for air bubbles and shatters. Put a bit more scrutiny into tails with wings and channels. Are they the same shape in the same spot on each rail? Keeping the board bottom up go to the nose and sight down the stringer, is the center fin in line with the stringer and standing at a true 90degrees? Are the side fins mirroring each other? Visually are they tilting the same amount out towards the rails? If they look at all funny to you, question it. Check the tip of nose for air. Take your hand and feel down each rail for remaining resin beads, just a difference in the feel could mean there was a factory oversight. Tilt your head from side to side glancing at the elongated lights reflection in the boards bottom. How true the reflecting light is, equals how true the work on the bottom is. Small defections are common its the bigger dips and lumps we need to be weary of. Search the board for slight color changes they could be results of massive air or silvering, meaning fibre glass that was subject to some kind of stress or contamination before being applied to the board. Small areas of this kind of blemish should not be cause for alarm its the obvious were looking for. One big advantage of buying an off the rack board is cure time, the longer the boards been sitting in that shop the more dent resistant its resin shell will be. Ask how long its been in the shop to be safe. Flip it over and give its deck the eagle eye scope out much like we did the bottom. Check for voids around the leash cup and heavy defections. Feel the crown of each rail if its overly lumpy you may want to find another sexy stick to feel out. Do me a favor when your searching out a new stick, remember that the production of a surfboard is not even close to rocket science rather it is a very soulful fragile handmade product, an art form if you will. Most of our fragile egos only need to be massaged with only the tiny est amount of respect. If your the type that over scrutinizes or wants their money back if that yellow was not the precise exact yellow ordered. Please do something else for fun we don't want your money or your ass in the water anyhow.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

SKIP FRYE , "Wings over Baja" 1968ish

 Most enjoyable time I spent with the Wind an Sea Surf Club? Watching a contest. Surf clubs from all over the place converged at San Miguel, Baja, Ca. To show case the talents of their members in this WSA sanctioned event. The Wind an Sea beach bunnies and Butch Van Artsdalen showed up. I remember well, because I cut him off while free surfing south of the jetties. He scared the holy crap out of this 14 year old as he glared at me and said." Son, take'n off in front of me is like jumping in front of a locomotive!"'  Now famous for their offspring, the Irons brothers were even rumored to be there. Leroy Grannis attended with his bigger than life telephoto lenses focused on the reeling three to six foot surf. My favorite surfer Skip Frye lead the charge for our club and was like usual, making perfection look easy. This was during a time when surfboards were getting shorter and powerful carving turns were in order to keep things moving forward.
That Sunday watching Mr. Frye compete was like poetry in motion. He would drop in, flow up and down with the smoking curl line, naugh nah nah nah nah naaaaaah. Then come gliding completely outside the waves shoulder, after a slight counter turn, Walla! Skip would pull off the biggest most beautiful roundhouse cutbacks on ocean. Wave after wave he would ride flawlessly with that stylish gracefulness only he seems to possess. Ultimately he secured the win for our club.
Up until that time Skipper did not compete on Sundays. Thor Swenson, then the director of Wind an Sea had to convince the pastor of Frye's church, to convince Skip that it would be spiritually all right to surf for his club that Sunday. Somehow it all worked out.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Surfboards, Order Custom. Why?

Giving advice seems to be my passion lately so here’s some over qualified thoughts on successfully attaining your next terminally ill custom surfboard. Pick your favorite surf shop and order the board you really want. First choose a quality brand name and experienced shaper. Why?, No one wants to make you happier than your local surf shop and no one shapes better than someone whose done it over and over and over again. Order it when the weather is cool and humidity’s are normal. Why?, Resin gets a little temperamental when exposed to heat and humidity. Ask for the board to be shaped from an Arctic Foam or a Millennium blank. Why?, Because I care about you and I’ve done the research. Stay away from dark colors, just a small bit of sun will make your wax melt and a large amount of the suns heat can and will cause delamination within those dark colored areas. Keep the stickers to a minimum. Why?, Lamination's are time sensitive. Keeping things simple decreases chances for human error. Order their factory standard glassing with an extra full or three quarter patch of 4 oz. S added to the deck. Why?, It’s the smartest lightest most inexpensive way to prolong the life of your board. Hard on your boards ? Order glass on fins. If it’s a long board with a box ask for an oval or football patch for reinforcement. Patches that end abruptly in high stress areas may encourage breakage. If you’re a performance addict I’d recommend a 320 straight line sanded finish. Why?, Done quicker, easily maintained and seems faster through the water. Maybe you’re the meticulous type and having fun is your main goal then by all means go with a gloss and polish. Why?, What little you lose in performance will be way made up for in luxurious hand crafted beauty. Those who tend to want a bit more longevity built into their stick might want a sanded gloss. Why?, It’s a thin diluted gloss coat that doesn’t add to much weight yet seals any missed air and adds a touch more strength still keeping its high performance characteristics. Special thanks go out to Eric (Bird) Huffman, owner of Birds Surf Shed and Joe Roper for their input.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


I stopped by to visit a long time friend today who once shared a spot in the line up beside a piling at one of Pacific Beaches most predominant left peaks. We met at his business, the busiest surfboard repair shop in So. California and rapped about surfboards for over an hour. He and I came to one conclusion pretty quickly, back in our day the most frequent pain in the ass repair was due to de lamination. Caused by the blank itself, a bad pour or maybe some kind of contamination contracted accidentally some where along the production line. Super blue and ultra light blanks seemed to encourage even more frequent separations between foam and glass. Laminated fiberglass becomes a very springy material. If it gets depressed into soft foam by a striking action it will cause a reverse gravitational pull away from the depressed foam. M.A's law. De lamination's and heat bubbles can also result from leaving a dark colored board exposed to the hot sun for to long. The early nineties introduced us to our first foam borne epidemic, gassing. It caused little teeny tiny air vents to amass on the boards finished surface called blow throughs or pin air. My suspicion is maybe the EPA may have encouraged Grubby Clark to alter his foam blowing formulation. Or some newly installed foam mixing equipment could have been the culprit. When the glassing factories called him out on this problem, Clark claimed the glassers were at fault for adding to much MEK to the resin. Then told label owners if he heard of them purchasing blanks from any other supplier that he would cut them off completely. Clark's airtight monopoly gave him ultimate power over us builder types. That’s when some imaginative surfboard builder stumbled onto an acrylic floor sealer that acted as our quick fix surfboard sealer. It worked pretty well and is still in use today. Acrylic when scuffed back covers a multitude of sanding sins.
Today’s biggest problems like everything else in the world are more complicated. The influx of knock off, cheaply built foreign boards that are sold by discount chain stores are the new repair waiting to happen. And I am so sorry but the Styrofoam - epoxy built surfboards, custom or composite continue to be his local reoccurring nightmare. Some of the major eco friendly brands have completely disappeared. Water resistant in no way means waterproof.
Polyester, polyurethane boards have their share of problems too but they seem to relate more to a new product or procedure. I.e., Installation problems with fcs, futures, rookies fabricating glass-ons and areas that contain non subtle design gimmicks. More on mine and my righteous friends thoughts on surfboard building coming soon.