I know nothing except the fact of my ignorance. -Socrates
What does board design really do for you? Can a new or drastic refinement of a board make you surf better? Or does it just make it easier for you to express yourself in the way you would like to? Can you go from Clown to Curren on this new ripper-stick? Or is it like cocaine, it just makes your persona more vibrant?
After spending enough time orienting myself with surfboard-based hydronamic fundamentals, I proceeded to design the Big Time Operator. Wide, flat, and short compared to a standard issue thruster, BUT, it’s tail is pulled in through double wings and the rails are more common to a thruster than a fish. It has four fins in which placement is super critical since there is no fat rail to push back or center fin to drive from. The center point pulled way forward with a wide flat nose. An all purpose surfboard to make average waves easier to ride.
What does that mean, easier to ride? My personal answer was a board that was loose to compensate for my chicken legs’ lack of power. The board should not be to wide-assed so that it can’t be ridden in the pocket or vertically. I wanted to still be able to hit the lip like a normal thruster. I wanted it to plane well unlike a modern thruster which requires effort to propel in smaller waves. I wanted to catch waves easily. What I wanted was a board with the speed and planing of a fish, but with the positive drive of a thruster.
What never crossed my mind is that I designed this board for me. I wasn’t thinking about how anyone else’s skills would affect how this board performed. Such as, if you are a full-fledged ripper would this board be an unnecessary element in your day-to-day quiver? If you are a kook, would the footwork required to function this board make you worse?
So here I am a year after launching this on the world and my friends in specific. The feedback is mixed. And there is no rhyme or reason to it. A couple rippers love it. A couple less skilled people love it. And vice versa. I personally can’t believe I made the board. It goes fucking great in softer slower waves. But I didn’t like how it went in real surf. Which began a whole new thought process. Does it suck in good waves? What the hell am I thinking? Who died and made me design legend? And what constitutes working well? Am I ripping as compared to the latest video offering? Am I able to perform the three maneuvers that I always perform?
What I am realizing about surfboard design is that all boards work. All of them. It is what is inside your head that determines how you perceive a board’s value. Too many years of videos and magazines have created a homogenized vision of good surfing. And those who know me understand that I do not buy into the hippy, retro, plywood, bearded, soul-arch-every-wave game plan. I actually hate hippies, or at least the ones under 60 years old or the ones over 60 who became real estate moguls. But I know see the value of every board. It may not be what eases display of your repertoire in perfect surf, but it rides exactly perfect. You just need to see how it goes and ride it for what it is worth.