The Secret To Boards That’ll Make You Surf Above Your Pay Grade
I came across this Matt Biolos review from STAB. Maybe it’s that time of year to evaluate how the past year has been on those water weapons (no pun intended) you’ve been riding. Before Santa delivers new sticks, it might be in the right spirit to ask yourself whether you’ve been naughty or nice to yourself, with your favorite wave riding vehicles. A good place to start is to assess the reality of your surfing with this simple formula I just came up with. Board shape + length + width + how much curve + volume + rails + concave + rocker + cloth weight + poly vs epoxy + fin shapes and sizes, multiplied by age, divided by time spent in the water = 40 liters to freedom. For those who are good at algebra, I’ll let you figure this out! LOL
In the meantime, it’s always insightful to hear from surfer/shapers, both local and beyond. Over the next year, I’ll be taking a tour through various shaper bays to see what’s going on. For now, being the aging surfer that I am, I’m for sure motivated to soak regularly in the fountain of youth and extend my youth as far as I can. So, here is a little ...Lost mind soaking, food for thought, since we are all aging along in our journey.
“For more than three decades, Mayhem’s been ripping through last-minute quivers for his sprawling cast of …Lost loyalists, usually for World Tour events around the world, or spur of the moment missions chasing swells to every corner of the globe.
But he’s also taken the time to enjoy the surfer/shaper’s Individualist’s self-reliant Ideal, hand-tailoring his own equipment to his own needs, and stuffing high volume, more Everyman equipment with just the right bells and whistles to make them sing under his feet.
We caught up with Matt returning from a trip to the Telos, lugging a coffin containing a five-board Indo quiver designed to “cover everything I’ve seen, surf-wise, after three trips coming. From a 6’0″ Puddle Jumper HP, to a 6’8″ Whiplash-esq Round Pin,” and including a new model that’s sure to become an instant classic with Men Of A Certain Age: El Patron.
So you long overdue for an Indo mission?
Uh, well, I barely surfed this winter, so I need to play some catch up. I really get distracted with snowboarding. I work really hard, then bail for Mammoth for three-day weekends, or whenever the snow is good. I came just shy of 60 days on the mountain this winter.
That said, I did a quick warm-up trip to Salina Cruz ten days before Indo, ‘cus Id rather sharpen up over sand, than reef. I have been to Indo twice a year for the last 3-4 years though. Gotta keep on it before I get too old to enjoy it.
What was your first surf trip—where, with whom, etc? You remember the boards you made for that trip?
My first surf trip? I guess it would be to the North Shore, Oct ’88. I never went on any surf trips as a kid, as my parents did not surf and I was not serious, or good enough to be involved with the type of kids who did.
I was 19, and had been shaping for a little over a year. I made a full 5-board quiver. They were pretty rough, but they did the job. I surfed some great waves. Relatively big waves, at Sunset and Lanis….all the typical spots.
But more importantly, I saw incredible waves—and incredible surfing. I knew after that trip, that this was the lifestyle I wanted. This was the world I wanted to be a part of.
One board in particular, was a 7’11” Gun. It had a beak-nose, flat deck, steep Brewer-style rails. Vee nose to tail. I rode it at solid sunset and big North swell Lanis. Full suicide stance! Got the waves and beatings of my life.
At the end of the three week trip, I was broke, and owed money to a couple buddies there, so I sold it at some used board store. About 18 years later, in like 2005, I was on the NS for spring break, with my wife and two young girls. I walked into Surf-n-Sea, in Haleiwa, to visit my buddy Eddie. There, in the used board rack, was my 7’11”! I bought it back and it sits in my office today!
When did you first get to Indo?
That was ’98. Boat trip to Mentawais. On the Neptune, which later got re-named the Huey-1, with Captain Jody, from North AU. Awesome trip. Best surf trip of my life at the time.
That trip I had some great boards. I had just gone up to 20″ wide…and it was a revelation. We went every year for a while…then the crowds and land camps sort of frustrated me.
Ok, so you’re stepping into the shaping bay, you’ve looked at the long range forecast, what are you thinking about?
Honestly, I’m thinking about water time, and long sessions without fatigue, or my back locking up. I want to surf multiple long sessions a day. This means easy paddling and wave catching.
The thing is, you also want to be able to do maneuvers at the best of your ability. That is my challenge. How to make larger boards that I can paddle all day, and compete for waves, but still relatively “rip” on. This is a difficult thing, but I think I have it pretty sussed.
It’s all about keeping the boards semi-sensitive, and doing so with the rails and bottom contours. I know most of the waves here, in the Telos. In comparison to the Ments, it’s more playful, not as intense, but still “Indo”.
I made 5 boards to cover everything I’ve seen, surf-wise, here after three trips coming. From a 6’0″ Puddle Jumper HP, to a 6’8″ Whiplash-esq Round Pin.
Is shaping your own travel quiver harder or easier than making one of your team guy’s?
Easier. They are for me, and I know my abilities and limitations. I know for me that catching the waves is as important as how I ride them.
Harder, in some ways, though, because I ride a much higher board volume to body weight ratio than pros do. So the standard bottom curves don’t always equate. I need to adjust the bottom curves on my boards to allow them to still be submersible and still surf “in” the water, not just “on” the water.
I have learned to make 40+ liter boards still be fairly nimble and sensitive. One example is I tend to use less than half the concave of the pros. My boards don’t need as much lift, especially in the powerful waves like Indo.
I watch a lot of guys drag old, albeit trusty, boards around the world, unwilling to invest in new equipment for a big trip. But there’s something to the whole ordeal, ordering the equipment for exactly the waves you’re traveling to get.
Does a fresh quiver and a booked ticket still keep you up the night before?
It’s one of the best parts of the whole deal! I love nothing more than working my way through a fresh quiver on a long surf trip.
Going on this trip, what’s an acceptable number of proper waves you need to return feeling like you’ve gotten the marrow?
I dunno. If it’s small and playful, I kinda need 25-30 waves a day. I tend to wait for sets though, as I don’t like to get washed around. If it’s big and challenging, all it takes is a couple great waves a session.
In the end, sometimes it’s those days when you get one incredible wave, and you remember it for decades. But really, at this point, its as much about the friends, having fun and keeping the body moving. Get a couple tubes, surprise yourself with a turn or two above your pay grade, and maybe link a long wave smoothly, without any hiccups.
Simple pleasures…. Extending youth as far as we can.”