WHAT I SURF – Simon – Prototypes.
Simon | 6’3, 104kg, Level – good, but has bad days mostly due to trouble on the take off and general decrepitude.
Surfing prototypes (not official models) is part of my job, better than being in the bay.
Surfing what I call a Varmit 6’6 21 2⅝ roundtail 39.24 litres at Bells this Easter.
Quite often the development of prototypes to new models is a long road with many twists and turns.
In the case of the Varmit (tentative name) there has maybe been a few more than others.
The 6’6 Varmit is a variation on the Mollusc model and was inspired by a board I saw in Gary MacNabb’s yard in Encinitas a year or so ago.
I made this 6’6 and surfed it in Sydney a couple of times and it was a pretty good.
A bigger style board for me that features area nose to normal round tail with single to double concave to vee at the tail.
The double concave is to the flat, not double below the rail line like in high performance shortboards. Hard to explain but the double concave high point at the stringer is level with the rail.
Thickness distribution is thinnish at the nose tip, but otherwise normal, and the rails are lowish volume to encourage performance burying the rail.
Rocker is lower nose entry, as you would expect in a board to help you out with moderate tail rocker to help sharp direction changes in the pocket.
I set the 6’6 Varmit aside for a while and then loaned it to a mate on the comeback trail from surgery.
Twist #1 – he was at the Rip Curl Bells contest this year and we swapped boards during an onshore lay-day session.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the board.
It felt lovely to surf in flattish lumpy Bells walls, transitioning nicely from the main bowl section to the inside.
If anything it was a little loose on the bigger outside bowl section.
Twist #2 – after Bells I went down south for a few days and surfed some powerful beach breaks in the 4 to 5 foot range with bigger sets.
I met up with an older bloke from the Central Coast NSW and we had a couple of surf sessions together with no one else out. That was nice.
He was surfing a similar style board to the Varmit and virtually the same dimensions 6’6 21 but 2¾ a little thicker but the rail was roughly the same volume.
In our best session down south I surfed a DSCV 7’6 20¼ 2¾ rounded pin 45.43 litres in 4 to 5 feet powerful waves with a bit of a drift away from the peak.
The 7’6 kept me on the peak and catching waves easily while Jamie struggled a little with the current, but none the less his board fit into the waves better, and I was impressed with his surfing and the way his 6’6 was going.
So back in Sydney I decided to transform the Varmit into more of a good wave board.
I moved the wide point forward, thus making the outline curve to the tail that touch longer and straighter to give me more hold at speed.
I increased the thickness to 2¾, but kept the rail the same volume as the 2⅝ thick Varmit.
I made 2 boards at 6’6 21 2¾, but one a roundtail and one a rounded-square.
The roundtail has the same outline shape except for wide point forward, and the same bottom single to double level with the rail.
The rounded square has less nose area, and the single to double concave is conventional thru the double being below the rail and deeper.
I have surfed both these boards in 4 to 5 feet good beach break waves at Narrabeen and Newport and I liked the feel.
Very controlled with good flow thru turns and easy to catch waves and jump to your feet.
They are bigger boards, and it takes a little longer to initiate turns and complete your turn so you need to adapt your timing to counter this.
Once you have made the adjustment the feeling is satisfying.
But if the waves are under 4 feet, and down the line clean and fast and require a tight hook off the top or on the face, the board will feel a little big and tend to turn out longer than required.
In conditions like this you are better off with a lower volume normal high performance board, in my case that would be around 36.5 to 37 litres.
In a Varmit shape 6’4 20½ 2⅝ would be 36.57 litres, surf tight in the pocket and do the job.
Final twist on reflection – I have been making the exact same boards for a long time for a long-term client Glenn Walsh.
He has been taking me down this path for his own needs; Glenn mid 60’s has kept pace with his own decrepitude.