I was conversing recently on the state of beautiful board building in the uk with Russ Pierre, a great photographer and a fine traditional minded logger in his own right. He pointed me in the direction of slide 65 a fairly new company based in gwithian. Russ loves his board and shaper Rob Wright has James Parry on board helping with design. Rob is originally a cabinet maker and has a good eye for detail. The glass jobs look flawless and inbetween the stock nuuhiwa-esque log shapes are a couple of more interesting looking designs. James' model in particular has a more refined shape and foil and looks influenced by whats been happening in the wider world lately with bladey pinched ralis, narrower nose and flexy raked fins
James reckons his latest board is one of the best logs he's had and most of the sennen crew were styling on them at the recent saunton BLU. I must admit to having been impressed on seeing them up close and if you are in the market for a new log they are well worth looking into
Like many of the regulars here, i'm a blow-in, trading city life up-country for the delights of the coast years ago. When i first moved down and started to get to know people, Shaun Marlow was one of the first people i met. A few days later, newly purchased first longboard under arm, i watched in awe as he cross stepped around the 2 foot contest slop at the local surf club meet. Marvelling at his noseriding and footwork, dreaming of learning to do the same.
He's a quiet presence in the line up, a constant through the year's ebb and flow, always ready with a smile, always quietly slipping into the slot to bag a set wave which he'll dissect all the way to the beach. His is a smooth yet powerful style, five over then sweetly into a sweeping drop knee before racing the section to clout the closeout. Although he's dallied with shorter boards and heavier single fins, it's the Mctavish stylist (ray gleave) model that i think of him on. The first board i saw him with, he's owned several different versions over the years. It sits in the middle of the spectrum from traditional to progressive - a modern allrounder if you will, just like Shaun himself.
He's still someone i look forward to bumping into, someone i respect hugely.
So i picked this board up second hand last year from a friend who brought it back from California, ironically it's now sitting in the corner of the condo i'm renting just north of Rincon, back in the golden state and still in one piece despite the baggage handlers best efforts! Officially its a 9'4 bing NR 2 (9'4 x 18 x 23 x 16) although it's fairly different from another friends older NR2. Not long after this one was bought, bing changed the NR2 model to the BN lightweight and i think this is more likely an early version of that model.
It's a parallel templated noserider, big nose concave, flat rocker with a lot of tail lift, soft pinched rails and a refined foil. Where it differs from a regular log is in weight. It's purposefully glassed a bit lighter and foiled a little thinner than the traditional nuuhiwa style noserider template, the aim being to create a more manageable, versatile, traditional board. It's still got a little heft to it, we aren't talking progressive longboard style weight
I've ridden the board in beachbreak up to shoulder high and I have to say i think it's great! The relative lightness and the tail kick make it really loose off the tail. Pushing through your back foot yields really abrupt and satisfying pivot cutbacks. On the nose it's stable and fast, holding a high line well and letting you get ten or heels over with impressive ease. The lighter glassing also makes it feel really manageable in steeper or slightly larger waves than a heavier log might be suited to. I think it would make a good travel log as a result.
If there is a downside it would just be that it can feel a little twitchy as you transition from tail to nose (though once in a forward position it's stable) and it lacks the weight to cut through chop in quite the same way as it's stouter brethren...........but you can't have everything and the compromise does make this into a really good easy riding log style board, either to cover a few bases while travelling or for the lighter logger who finds dead weight & the momentum it gives difficult to reign in!
It's holiday time hereabouts and as you read this i'm twiddling my thumbs at heathrow waiting for a shiny jetplane to whisk me and my girls to California for a couple of weeks. Hopefully the bing noserider is tucked up safely in the hold and hasn't recieved too much of a kicking from the baggage handlers already.
So just over a week around Santa Barbara then a week in Dana and no doubt a few waves at doheny and san o. If you see a pasty bearded skinny guy in a nineplus fullsuit riding a tan bing with a chocolate brown nose patch paddle up and say hi, i'd love to meet you!
Even with all the sophisticated ways of predicting and checking the surf, swell and wind from your phone or desktop at work, nothing really beats doing it visually. Even if you have an idea of what you're going to find, the nervous anticipation of glimpsing sections of sea as you near the beach, teasing views with not quite enough scope to reveal the conditions at hand, rounding the last couple of corners to actually eyeball the
Braving the wind and dodging flying surfboards i put my new fish through it's paces. At 5'6 x 20.5 x 2.5 ish it has less foam than anything i've had before, little enough to have given a few worries that i'd gone too small. My fears were unfounded though. It still paddles well and is so responsive and loose it feels like an extension of my feet, coming really square off the bottom and whipping through cutbacks with ease.
It's also the best fish i've ridden on my backhand. The decreased length really lets you feel like your weight is fully engaged on the rail on your bottom turn and it sticks less off the top too. Safe to say i'm looking forward to putting her through her paces in depth over the summer.
So yeah maybe we moan about the weather here a lot. Moan about the cold water, the rain, the prevailing westerlies, the crowds of kooks, the windswell. It's easy to get grumpier and grumpier the older you get and the more you think on it.... the grass is always greener. One thing we do have, despite the congested nature of much of the country, is lush green landscapes barely interupted by human hand. Sitting in the line up with a couple of friends, taking it all in on a small day is one of life's simple pleasures. A time honoured antidote to the grumpiness.
Anyone who's read this blog since the beginning might remember me posting the video for Neil Halstead's Paint a face single in the first few posts. I'm a huge fan of Neil's thoughtful acoustic english songs as well as his previous incarnation as a driving force behind the Mojave 3. The guy is undeniably very cool indeed and very good live.
I just came across this free download of his set from a truck festival in america last year. If you have half an hour, treat your ears to a performance from a great english singer songwriter at the peak of his powers.......