Should You Ride Pro Model Boards?

Has there ever been a signature model surfboard that truly succeeded?

A surfboard blind taste test is an interesting notion. Great for hype. Whichever marketing head came up with it deserves a raise.

I wasn’t able to actually sit through the entire 36-ish minutes of board reviews. But that doesn’t really matter. It’s got people talking. About brands and boards and sealing wax. Why the sea is boiling hot, and whether pigs have wings.

Slightly astounding that it works so well. We all know that dialing in your boards is a fairly personalized affair. Everyone is built differently, surfs differently, approaches a wave differently. Watching an amazingly talented surfer go full blind fold while picking through a quiver is entertaining, to some. Not to me, but the internet disagrees and I can accept that just because I didn’t really enjoy something doesn’t mean it’s bad. Not always. Sometimes I’m just not into it, or I’m distracted. And I am very distracted at the moment. Can’t tear my eyes away from the presidential candidate hell-bent on destroying trust in our political process.

Not that you should trust it. Not if you’re a voter. But the people who take part are supposed to play along. At the very least they aren’t supposed to rattle sabers and threaten to jail journalists. That’s pretty scary. Really strikes at the heart of my freedom-of-speech-makes-us-better-than-you American indoctrination.

Has there ever been a signature model surfboard that truly succeeded?

(Oh yes! – Editor.)

Slater signed Surftechs were gross. Ugly boards, maybe they worked. I don’t know. Never rode one. Not many people did. Yeah, it had Kelly’s name on it, but he’ll slap that shit on anything.

NHS toyed with the idea, started Santa Cruz Surfboards, slapped Ozzie Wright and Archie’s name on a line of pop-outs. Don’t know how well that did. Didn’t see many of them in the lineup. A quick jaunt to their website shows they’ve gone missing. Only Ratboy models left. Maybe state of the art more than a decade ago, boggles the mind they think that name still sells. Maybe it does in NorCal. I don’t know. Weird shit goes on in the top half of the Golden State. Weird surf pseudo-gang rivalries and meth psychosis.

I’m not the target audience, I know that. Already know, more or less, what works for me. Only ever bought a single board straight off the rack. It was a 5’8 Xanadu, xerox of the Fireball Fish, back when those were so damn hot. It went very well. I rode it into the dust. Delamned deck and cracked fin boxes. Lost it into the 54th street jetty on a small day, finally put it in its grave.

I know I’ll never surf like Dane. I know he surfs well enough to make even the worst board look good. I know that when a high level ripper is backing off his turns, that means the board’s a bar of soap I can barely hope to stand on.

But that was pre-growth spurt. Before I gained height and weight and realized that I’ve never be a hyper-flexible grommet ever again. Before I learned to distrust anything that smacks of marketing propaganda. Before I had my heart broken when the fins for my nifty new OAM system didn’t fit in the boxes. So much sanding. So much sanding!

I know I’ll never surf like Dane. I know he surfs well enough to make even the worst board look good. I know that when a high level ripper is backing off his turns, that means the board’s a bar of soap I can barely hope to stand on.

I’ve seen oodle of doodles paddle out on Hyptos and Tomos and Dumpster Diver derivatives. Hardly ever seen someone surf well on ’em. I’ve learned firsthand why you need foam on big days. Yeah, Craig Anderson can scratch over the ledge on a 5’4″, John John’s second reef slayer is a 6’4″. But that thinking will get us normal humans slaughtered. The ability gap between good surfer and pro surfer is just too damn great.

There’s something to be said for instant gratification. No need to call in and hear, “Oh, yeah, just putting on the finishing touches. It’ll be done next week.”

You said that two weeks ago.

But few people get into shaping because they feel like putting in ten-hour days. Most shapers inhabit a weird spectrum somewhere between crazy artist and mad inventor.

Yet all good things do come to those who wait. And there’s real value in having someone who will tell you, “There’s no way you can ride that,” rather than a minimum wage shop rat regurgitating media material.

“Oh, totally, dude. Best all around board on the market. Works from two feet to ten. Want to throw in a new travel bag and board sock? How about a couple sets of fins? I don’t make commission, but my boss’ll be on my ass if I don’t up-sell the shit out of you.”

You too can turn like this after a few quick tips!
You too can turn like this after a few quick tips! | Photo: Morgan Maasssen

Dane Reynolds’ new fav shaper speaks!

He tells you how to surf like Dane Reynolds!

Dane Reynolds has a new favorite shaper and his name is Jon Pyzel. And oh what a wonderful man he is! And do you want to surf like Dane? Of course you do! I spoke with Mr. Pyzel so many years ago about various problems and how to solve via the board. My questions were dumb. Mr. Pyzel was warm and friendly. I can see why Dane cheated on his long time love Channel Islands.

Board hums: Back end of fins has resin buildup. Take some sandpaper and carefully polish.

Bogs rail during cutback: Surf more. It is not the board’s fault.

Dies during flat spots: More volume, less rocker. Also, go on a surf trip to a place without flat spots in the waves.

Too loose: Change the fins. Try a bigger set and you might also have too much rocker.

Too stiff: More rocker and smaller fins.

Backside vs. frontside problems: You know, I don’t think there is a difference as far as the board goes. People usually push harder backside and so the board, sometimes can feel a little stiff, or a little buggy off the lip but it’s just he way it is.


Type of waves: Important

Front foot vs. Backfoot: No such thing. All surfers, during different sections on the wave, are heavy on the front foot and heavy on the back foot. When you are driving down the line, trying to build speed, you are on your front foot. When you are going to hit the lip you are on the back foot…

Height and weight: It is really important to be honest about your weight. Surfers will tell me, “I weigh 200 lbs now but I usually weigh 180 or I want to weigh 165 or whatever…” I shape them a board for how much they weigh at the moment.

Cold water vs. warm water: If I know the guy is going to always be surfing in cold water while wearing a wetsuit then I add a few pounds to his weight and shape the board that way. Warm water/trunks is way better (laughs). Everyone surfs their best in a pair of trunks.

Yes, Mr. Pyzel is warm and friendly and I think handsome too but don’t worry Matt Biolos! I won’t cheat on you! I wear your name with pride every day and will never ever ever stray.



How to: re-write surfing history!

Use Wikipedia to change the actual course of surfing history!

It’s a damn shame that our collective surf history has been written by, like, three people. Ok, or maybe like thirteen, but they’re basically all the same person (white bread, white bread, and more white bread, of the Wonder, not the Pan Bimbo, variety).

Except for Matt Warshaw. The mold was broken with the Godfather of surf historiography. And, for the record, I found MW infallible long before surfing’s widely acclaimed gossip rag/literary mag/fashion blog/imminent corporate lawsuit took it upon itself to drop Dr. Warshaw (honorary degree forthcoming, from somewhere good, I’m certain!) into their S.E.O. with deserved regularity.

But you know what? You too can write surf history!

“But,” you ask, “how can I do that without a direct line to Scott Hulet or the acquisition editor at Chronicle Books? What indiscretions might Nick Carroll ask of me in return for 300 words? Is Phil Jarratt even around for a favor after the Quiksilver exposés?”

But: fuck nepotism, I say. Yes, backroom bro bias and alumni networks might grease every wheel and every industry that you or I or our beloved fellow commenters can name. But not surf history! Not anymore.

Cuz, Wikipedia!

Oh the fun that can be had by contributing to Wikipedia. Remember when Chas wrote the official brand identity of the World Surf League ? And it ended up on the WSL’s Wikipedia page for, like, seven hours before Travis Logie reverted it back from the QS event in Portugal after being tagged in a BG instagram comment? That was fun, right?

screen-shot-2016-09-25-at-8-45-09-am Well, so is the Quik Pro France Wikipedia, right now…, which lists the official casting of the forthcoming film Death in the Afternoon: The Keanu Asing Storalongside the comp results! And because it’s on Wikipedia, it must be true! Get ready for the Oscars, Hervé Villechaize!


See, you, me, ANYONE can officially write surf history for the massive 300-gazillion rabid surf media consumers worldwide. It all starts with a click of the “edit” tab and ends with your own personalized, official amendment to surfing’s official record. Pick any topic, any personality, any surfer, any shaper, and fill in the blanks surrounding their illustrious existence. Just remember to cite your source (any old website will do! Or make one up!) and it’s a totally valid edit, contribution, or revision to the page in question!

Yes, technically Wikipedia deems erroneous or malicious edits vandalism.

And, fuck that, vandals are like thieves with no payout, morally destitute with no compensation, which means they are also like popular bloggers, err, writers. But the introduction of well-presented fact—like the fact that Paul Speaker doesn’t surf on the WSL page—doesn’t constitute vandalism.

Not in the least! It is, rather, a valued real-time contribution to the historical legacy and a correction to the record of our beloved pastime! Surf history for the masses, by the masses!


By the way, you know who doesn’t have a Wikipedia page?

Matt Warshaw? No! He does, and it’s impeccable!

Those future Pulitzer winners who founded Stab Magazine

Tough: Oregon surfer punches shark!

Then paddles to the beach and fixes himself up!

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times. Oregonians are the best people on earth. Tough, cool under fire, emotionally intelligent. And let us look at the case of Portland surfer Joseph Tanner who was attacked while surfing Indian Beach, south of Seaside. Let’s read about how he punched the shark, paddled to shore and led the first aid team as they stopped his bleeding. Let’s read it all in the Oregonian, a proud paper of a proud people.

A Portland surfer bitten by a shark Monday off the Oregon coast was yelling “help” as he headed to shore on his surfboard, a 911 caller reported.

The caller was one of several to phone dispatch after the attack, which left Joseph Tanner, 29, with serious leg injuries. He said Tanner had been pulled from the water off Indian Beach about a minute before and that someone was wrapping a tourniquet.

Tanner told people how to help: He directed them how to put on the makeshift tourniquet — his surfboard leash — and how to apply pressure to his wounds, a volunteer responder said. He’s a trauma nurse, according to the Daily Astorian.

“To be in that much pain (and) just be in that situation, I couldn’t believe the amount of calmness he had,” said Shaunna White, a Cannon Beach Fire & Rescue volunteer.

White said Cannon Beach police had put on a second tourniquet by the time she arrived with the second wave of responders. Tanner wasn’t bleeding at that point, she said.

She said he had two large lacerations on his upper thigh and that his main injury was on the bottom of his thigh, which was open and lacerated. Tanner’s leg wasn’t severed, she said.

Tanner described the attack to responders, White said.

She said he told them he was just about to jump back on his surfboard when the shark pulled him down. He punched the shark a few times, it released him and he got back on his board and paddled to shore.

Read the rest here!

And, if you were in a nasty pinch like this would you be a level-headed machismo or a crying li’l weirdo?

Meet: Dane Reynolds’ new favorite shaper!

Come meet Dane Reynolds' new sweetheart!

Stab’s Stab in the Back is the most exquisitely staged surf drama putting Surfer Poll and Fantasy Surfer to shame. Did you watch live? I didn’t but we had our own J H there in the room live Tweeting. If only I had checked my damned Twitter we could have brought to you, even before Stab, the fact that Hawaiian shaper Jon Pyzel is his new favorite! 

I spoke with Jon on the phone many years ago and just this moment uncovered the story! Should we learn about Dane’s #1?


Jon Pyzel shapes surfboards for the world’s hottest surfer and he has been since the world’s hottest surfer was six years old and, really, that is all you should need to know to fill your quiver with Pyzels. But, in a fabulous twist, Jon Pyzel is as pure a craftsman as can be all by himself so maybe, just maybe, you should fill your quiver with Pyzels even if you never even heard the name John John Florence.

Born in Santa Barbara, young Jon could think of nothing finer than surfing. He lived it. He breathed it. And while he didn’t necessarily have the chops to become an out and out sponsored pro, he was good enough to be taken under the wing of Rincon Designs Surf Shop owner/shaper Matt Moore. It was there that he became interested in shaping himself. “I would go into the shop when Matt was shaping my boards and, I guess I got interested in shaping because Matt was such a cool guy. He had a rad life. He just wanted to surf so he’d go shape, glass, then go surf. Consciously, I didn’t think, ‘I’m gonna shape surfboards.’ I just thought, ‘I want that life.’”

Jon gave shaping a try a few years later. “I suck at art. I can’t even draw a circle but I thought I should give shaping my own board a try and so I bought a blank and went to work. I shaped a 6’4 or something, a little step up size, airbrushed it, glassed, sanded…and, you know, it worked pretty good. It wasn’t perfect but it was good enough.”

He moved to the North Shore in 1992 to surf even more and started hanging out with guys that got their boards from master gun builder Jeff Bushman. Bushman, like Matt Moore, took Jon under his wing. Like a true artist, Bushman would not let Jon use the shaping machine. He had to do everything by hand and he did. He fixed dings, glassed, hot coated, laminated. He did anything he could to surf all the time. “I didn’t move to Hawaii to work” was his attitude.

But work he did. One day, Alex Florence waltzed into the shop trailed by three little ducklings and asked for a board for her eldest, six year old John John. Jon had no idea how to shape a board so small but he gave it a shot and the rest is history. “It has been crazy. We’ve literally grown up together. My shaping has grown with his surfing.” And if John John’s surfing is any indication, then Jon Pyzel is one of the best in the world alongside greats like Matt Biolos and Maurice Cole.

But P.S. real quick…do you think the global media cabal sabotajed the C.I. offering? Get your conspiracy on here!