Wide as a river, thin as a reed? What fun you'll have!
Carpinteria ain’t but two hours north of the City of Angels, up there in Santa Babs county. A real good righthand point there called Rincon, too, in case y’didn’t know. But what should really get your SUV rental pointed to Carps is the Channel Islands factory. For there, in the corner of the reception area, is the Dane Reynolds-shaped Sperm Whale (among a bunch of other iconic CI boards).
Pick the Sperm up! What do your hands tell you? It’s wide, yeah, the wax is dirty, sure, but feel the rails. Have you ever felt anything quite so slender? And ain’t it ugly!
But there is something incomprehensible, something a little mystical about this surfboard, something that makes it paradoxically easy to ride, but difficult to master. How did it appear? Let’s ask Reynolds, the shaper.
“Thomas (Campbell) was doing a book and wanted to take pictures of me shaping a board that I would bring and ride in Morocco ’cause he thought that was a cool thread for the book. He did the same with Alex (Knost), too. I ended up hurting my knee and didn’t go to Morocco, but anyways, I had shaped three boards free-form and thought I was the free-form guru. My point being this: look at the thing you stand on the board with, your foot. It’s such a bizarre shape and there’s no way you apply pressure to the heelside rail the same as you do the toeside rail, so what’s the point of symmetry?”
Listen, closer, readers, as Reynolds continues with the theorem. “So we just fucked around in the shaping room all afternoon. Thomas was more interested in taking weird photos, cutting up blanks to look like Christmas trees and shit. But the Sperm Whale basically came from that. Just hacking away until it was too thin and we had to stop and glass it. He was telling me what to do, kept telling me it needed more vee, more vee, more vee. ’til it was crazy thin and the whole board had vee. I didn’t know he hadn’t even shaped a board before. He was telling me what to do like he was Skip Frye or something. But the end result was a misshapen Sperm Whale looking thing, hence the name, and somehow it actually worked. Well, I thought it worked. Thomas wasn’t convinced. He didn’t like the way I surfed on it. I brought it to Chile and he kept telling me to get off of it. But it was pretty fun anyway. For me.”
CI’s Trav Lee says: “Dane had a knee injury at the time so he shelved it for a bit, but as he was recovering he pulled it out and rode it a bunch and was surprised how incredibly fast and fun it was. Sometimes boards, no matter what they look like, have a magic element and work incredibly well. When scanning and reproducing this board for the model we really wanted to maintain the integrity of his original shape.”
Says Reynolds: “Travis said he kept getting orders for a Sperm Whale and so they scanned it and I’m surprised at how many people I see riding ’em and saying they love it. The scanned version, where they took out all the major mess-ups, goes pretty insane. It’s less of a curve ball. The basic fundamentals aren’t that weird, just flat with a ton of planing surface and that eggy wide-point back thing with the big hip to pivot off of.”
“This board has a big cult following and sells extremely well in Australia and Japan,” says Trav.
Adds Reynolds. “I think I see way more homemade Sperm Whale incarnations in the lineup than real ones, which is pretty cool.
Dimensions: 5’5″ x 21¼” x 2 1/8″ and 28.1L volume. Interesting side note: “It’s crazy how close to Dane’s normal volume he got on this board when shaping this from a raw and using no measuring tools,” says Channel Islands’ Travis Lee.