Chas Smith
Is the BeachGrit principal Chas Smith a "dirty, dirty boy" for riding, and liking, asymmetrical surfboards or a loveable kook?

Biolos on “Monster” Asymmetrical boards!

A one-board weapon even for pro's, says shaper to the stars…

Two weeks ago, the BeachGrit principal Charlie Smith wrote of the virtues of an asymmetrical surfboard he’d been given from Album Surf in San Clemente.

Let me remind the reader of the breeze Chas blew across its bow. 

“It was almost too much fun.” 

“I am getting another asymmetrical to try out because it feels like the key to me getting on the WQS as a 40-year-old man. The feel-good story of the decade!”

“Tell me I’m wrong. Tell me I’m a dirty dirty bad boy.”

Are asymmetrical boards, which have been around for thirty years, as good as Chas says or are they an embarrassing crutch for kooks who have little need for direction changes?

Who must we turn to for sensible surfboard advice?

Oh you know it has to be Matt Biolos, shaper for three decades, to world champs etc.

We begin.

BeachGrit: When did you first become aware of ‘em?

Biolos: Honestly, I’m not sure. One of the best snowboards I ever owned was a NITRO “Pyro” asymmetric. This would have been Winter ‘92/93. It was an early “twin tip” with different side cut and effective edge on heel and toe. If you were goofy, you would set up the bindings one direction and if you were regular you’d do the opposite. The good thing for the business side  was either a goofy or regular footer could buy the same board. No double inventory. I made a few asym surfboard tails for myself that next summer, 1993, because of the great experience I had on that snowboard. It really made your heel turns and heel-to-toe transitions easier. It was the first time I felt I could do a good snow carve on my heels.

BeachGrit: How did those first surfboards go?

Biolos: I don’t remember anything standing out and lost interest in it quickly.

BeachGrit: I remember great New Zealand shaper Allan Byrne loosing ‘em, oowee, would’ve been in the nineties sometime.

Biolos: Rest his soul. I don’t know much about those boards but I’m friends with Carl Ekstrom. Obviously he’s pretty much The Godfather of Asym. He’s a brilliant guy. Engineer type of mind and approach. Very good aesthetic to everything he designs. A few years ago I ordered one from him. It’s beautiful. Goes really fast. Had one really good surf on it one winter, a northwest swell at Uppers. Where you’re taking off way, way up near “Barbwires” and racing the wall, full horizontal speed, one hundred yards behind the normal take-off. But, overall, I struggled with the board and it didn’t really fit my surfing, although I cherish it.

BeachGrit: I get the theory. But are they really, as one commenter put it so eloquently, for people who like to go straight?

Biolos: Most of the ones you see these days are more about art or “Shock and Awe”. So it’s easy to say that and be cynical. But I believe that statement is too broad and sarcastic. It’s just that no one is really working on them in the competitive zone. The best surfing I’ve seen on them is Ryan Burch, by a mile, so you know it can be done. Someone like him could push them to more acceptance. They can actually be made far more subtle and I think make turning a bit more easy. The thing is that fringe, artsy shapers have pushed them too extreme.

Most of the ones you see these days are more about art or “Shock and Awe”. So it’s easy to say that and be cynical. But I believe that statement is too broad and sarcastic. It’s just that no one is really working on them in the competitive zone.

BeachGrit: Tell me about your recent shaping experience with ‘em.

Biolos: My best experience was one I made myself in 2000. I took it on an early trip the Ments. It was a diamond tail on my toe edge and a round tail on my heel. It had more rail rocker spiraling off the toe edge. I surfed it at speeding, hollow, head-high Rags Rights and similar, playful Macaronis. At Rags I felt the longer rail line of the toe edge gave me lots of projection in the fast walls and tubes but the round heel let me do quick snaps and stalls under the lip. It was more forgiving than if it was a squash on my heel. At Maccas, and other backside bowly waves, I always struggle on sharp backside bottom turns. Especially on a squash tail. I always feel like I need a rounded pin to do a firm backside bottom turn in bowly reef waves. Thus the round tail. But by having the wider outline on the toe side it made backside snaps off the top more loose and playful. Solid off the bottom, loose and almost drifty off the top. Great board and great memories. I still have the board.

At one combo ASR/Sacred Craft show in SanDiego I had a bunch of asyms in our booth. It was actually the year I won the Tribute to Masters/Simon Anderson shape-off. We were launching  Hydro-Flex construction with Bufo. The only ones that seemed interested at the time were Gorkin and Tom Carroll. TC was tripping on one of them (There is a photo with him floating around the internet) but beside Gorkin ripping on a couple, we got no traction with them.

I had another one, a more grovel-style board, which was actually a prelude to the Puddle Jumper back in October 2013. It was  5’10” x 21” x 2.75” with a round tail on the heel side and Rocket tail on the toe. Same theory as the old board. Faster with drive, and skate, on the toe, with a forgiving, precise heel turn. I remember Tyler Wright had flown to California to begin our working relationship. I had just made this little board and we surfed really soft , late-season windswell at Lowers for a couple days. The little board just flew, and skated, but still felt precise. You could really lay into the heel turns. I think asyms are good way to negate the corkiness of high volume, wide-tailed boards. I ended up making a few of that particular design for some of my buddies here in southern California and over in Florida. Still have that board as well.

If we took the time to dial some in for a top surfer, and they had success on them, which I firmly believe is possible, there would be dramatically increased demand.

BeachGrit: I defer to shapers like you (and Pyzel too, occasionally) because what counts but experience and expertise, right? So let me ask. Why isn’t there an asymmetrical in the Lost range? Wouldn’t it be a seller if pushed by Brother, Yago, Carissa and co?

Biolos: The biggest hurdle for the success of asyms is getting retail shops to stock them and manufacturers like me to make ’em. Asyms are a regular or a goofyfoot board. Stores don’t want to have to double the amount of boards to cover a size range. I think it’s financially daunting. Like glass-on fins are now. No one has the room to stock them although I think they could sell.
Another thing is the extreme art board guys have embraced it more so I think it could be turning off the “performance” guys. Most of the guys working on them now don’t even sell to shops. I do agree though, if we took the time to dial some in for a top surfer, and they had success on them, which I firmly believe is possible, there would be dramatically increased demand. I should try to do it. But like most people I get too caught up in my everyday stuff.

BeachGrit: In theory, could a customer walk into one of your Get a Board Shaped by Mayhem appearances and request an asymmetrical?

Biolos: Absolutely. I do them on request. We actually made a regular, goofy sample pair of Puddle Jumper spin-offs a year ago. I cut them, shaped them and threatened to put them in our 2017 line up. Then I got scared or distracted. Those two boards are both still around. We can make nice functional, realistically proportioned asyms that work. Not quite the “Shock and Awe” monstrosities you see hype fed on Instagram but more for function than fad. Kolohe could have done well on one in France this week. He rode two nearly identical boards on finals day. A squash in the am, then the same exact board, as a round tail, in his second two heats. As the swell grew I think the one with a squash on the toes and round on the heel could have been a one-board weapon.

Portugal Day 2: Jordy’s half-assed failure!

The day that safety surfing died!

Can I please apologize for yesterday’s contest coverage? I am truly sorry. I was making a breakfast of spinach, eggs, bacon and waffles for my little girl, as previously reported, half watching while also preparing for a day of sailing and dreaming about Longtom’s delicious take on a wild and wooly day of professional surfing.

Very selfish and not thinking that it was the dead middle of the Australian night. Not thinking that Longtom deserves to rest his weary eyes too.

So this morning I am here. Here for the people. For you watching professional surfing while sipping a hastily made mimosa. My daughter quietly weeping in the corner. Starving.

The waves look very difficult to surf. Bigger and windswept. Closed out. Sun glared. Our professionals are getting through their heats with 6.67 – 13.43 heat totals. Yes, many low scored heats but only two mattered.

Round 3 Heat 6: John John Florence vs. Vasco de Gamma

John John won with one of the higher totals of the day including an 8.67. He won and is marching toward his second consecutive world title.

Round 3 Heat 7: Jordy Smith vs. Josh Kerr

Jordy lost, bowing out of the world title chase, and he lost because he safety surfed. Because he reached down, deep into his heart, and dialed it back to 75%. Because he half-assed. The waves were difficult to read, etc. but Josh Kerr was trying to gift him the heat, refusing to even tactically sit on him. Refusing to even paddle near. Jordy caught a wave and he tucked into a mini barrel instead of winding up a wow air. Jordy caught another wave and he touched the lip, twice, with 3/4 power.

The judges did not reward him and he lost.

And is this the end of conservative surfing? Has the World Surf League finally heard the cries of the people? Please sirs, can we have some more? It would have been easy for the men in the high tower to gift Jordy the very very low score he needed for both micro barrel and lip kisses. Only the most grouchy of us would have complained. But a line was drawn today, I believe.

I am sorry once again, my daughter is complaining that this bread of the people does not stick to her ribs and I must bake for her more waffles. But I will be back because we have more to discuss.

To be continued…

“If he would have thrown some cash my way we would have seen what happened…”

Portugal: Pottz and the magic snow!

Day 1 of the MEO Pro both thrilled and confused!

I spent the better part of this morning half-watching Portuguese heats while cooking eggs, bacon and waffles and ooooooo-ee it did not look easy. Big chunky bombs. Weird tubes. Confused surfers. Julian, Leo and Caio scored an 11 point heat total. Combined.

I am not about to spoil Longtom’s upcoming analysis with my droll musings (Spoiler: Mason Ho almost kicked Gab Medina out of title contention!) but there was one moment that caught my attention. Martin “Pottz” Potter, in the booth with Joey Turpel, was helping call a heat featuring the great Zeke Lau. Zeke took off on a very large closeout which exploded behind him filling the entire screen with whitewash.

It did look like a giant snowy avalanche and Turpel said as much to which Pottz responded, “Except in our avalanches you have to hold your breath too…”

By “our avalanches” it is assumed he meant surfing but it really made me wonder… Has Martin Potter ever seen the snow? What does he think happens in “their avalanches?” Soft powdery white surrounds skiers, snowboardings, mountain climbers like a cottony pillow? Underneath the blanket they serve tea and enjoy witty conversations?

Or was he talking about another sort of snow that people, generally surfers, breathe?

In any case, I was left greatly confused but also mentally planning a trip for me n Pottz to hit the slopes. Japan I’m thinking.

Mick Fanning Supertubos
With everyone's nerves exploding in the air, Mick has taken his strictly high-brow approach straight to the podium in 2009 an 2014. | Photo: WSL

Moneyball: Mick Fanning to win Portugal!

And Michel, Jack, Josh and Stu to lose… 

How’d you go picking winners in France? If you had a lousy team, don’t whimper or glow like a Halloween pumpkin at us.

Two weeks go, and based entirely on statistics, we suggested either Gabriel Medina or John John Florence would win and that Kolohe Andino would be the prized dark horse.

(Refresh here.)

The school teacher Balyn McDonald, whose website sings according to numbers not emotion, has a bank of stats on the Portugal event that make for compelling reading. Of course, like Scotch and avocados and most of the other things in life that are special, you learn to cultivate a taste for statistics.

Let’s go.

First, a few caveats.

Regarding John John winning a consecutive world title. Only four surfers have “gone back-to-back with titles in the modern era,” says Balyn. “Tom Carroll and Tom Curren, Andy and Kelly.”

Jordy: “He has never won two contests in a season.”

Gabriel: “Only one goofyfooter has won in Portugal and he’s no longer on tour, Kai Otton.”

Where’s that leave us?

Mick Fanning.

“Mick has won the event twice (the only surfer to do so) and he ranks near the top for Event Average Heat Score (2nd), Beachbreaks (2nd), Left/Right Peaks (5th) and 6-8′ waves (6th).”

On current form, Gabriel Medina is bringing the house down. He’s won the last two events (if y’count the pool), has the second-best form over the past three events, second-best win percentage for 2017 and fourth-best Average Heat Score for the season.

Ah, but if Gabriel is second, who is first? John John! Form, winning percentage and average heat scores.

Oowee, take out your wallet!

Now here’s who you should avoid, according to the numbers.

Michel Bourez: Averages less than ten points a heat here, and ranks in the bottom three for beachbreaks and left-right peaks.

Josh Kerr:  “He’s ranked lowest of all full-time tour surfers and has the worst win percentage to match.”

Jack Freestone: Three consecutive last-places and seven last-places for the year. Ninth worst on Average Heat Score over the last three events too.

Stu Kennedy: Dead last on current form. Stu is averaging 9.45 in heats over the last three events.

Who you think gonna flash at Portugal?


Discovery: Surf media loses the plot!

Stab and The Inertia blow stack over fun closeout!

Did you watch Natxo Gonzalez’s recent Discovery clip? It was plastered onto Stab and Venice-adjacent twin-flame The Inertia and lauded with the most breathless praise. “Best discovery of decade!” “Best discovery ever!” “One of the heaviest waves ever seen!” “Better than Mick’s wave!”

And while I love the Spaniard’s pluck and his zeal and his boldly going where no man has maybe gone before, Stab and The Inertia both lost their minds while spewing superlatives.

Better than Mick’s wave?

Umm. No. It was beautiful but it was also flawed. None of the actual rides featured an actual barrel and I have no idea what was happening when the thing bent away from view. Taking nothing away from the joy of discovery, if we surf journalists are not careful we’ll all end up wearing many bracelets, rings, necklaces, accessories. Hats, etc.


Oh read a brilliant piece of analysis over at Surfer. A magazine with enough history to know quality when it sees it. Enough good taste to marry dear BeachGrit!

And weigh in!

Did Stab and The Inertia oversell or is the wave really “better than sex?”


A DREAM COME TRUE · NATXO GONZALEZ from Jon Aspuru on Vimeo.