A board review that hits Rousseau, Voltaire, Dostoevky and gorgeous women who used to be men!
Nothing but nothing marks a gal as reactionary, out of date and surplus to requirements as resistance to our modern gender fluid world. At least in the west. In the east it is still considered a noble virtue.
So, what to do, if you’re a hetero-normative piece of shit like me and feel a desire to “experiment”, to expand your horizons in a sublimated completely psycho-sexual way?
I have a solution and it’s called an asymmetrical surfboard.
This one I have in my possession is Asian made, designed by a delightfully fruity Japanese man named Cuts under the Insane label, hereafter known as the Insano. It came from the Surfboard Agency in Byron Bay, because made for a goofy, and I, goofy. They needed a goofy to ride and report.
Let us first acknowledge and bow deeply to the Asian elephant in the room. I do not own any Asian-made surfboards, apart from the Insano. Any prick with five minutes to spare will find acres of ranting from L. Tom on the issue and I now have to admit my position has become more nuanced.
No money exchanged.
The Insano is EPS core, biaxial epoxy lam, not my usual choice of materials for reasons to be discussed. It’s a wide-outline, flat fish with neutral rails and a shorter rail line on the toe-side edge and two channels running through the bottom from the fins.
Let us first acknowledge and bow deeply to the Asian elephant in the room. I do not own any Asian-made surfboards, apart from the Insano. Any prick with five minutes to spare will find acres of ranting from L. Tom on the issue and I now have to admit my position has become more nuanced. I have seen many local manufacturers I respect experiment in asian board building. I am happy to see Cuts get a cut of the action, and others, growing older, like Dick Van Straalen find a passive income in retirement from licensing his designs.
Yet I can’t quite get behind the D. Rielly position that a brother is a brother is a brother. That’s fine sentiment but not how most people operate, most of the time. According to Indian essayist Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger, much of the humiliation and anger felt by peeps across the world (especially sanders/glassers/shapers) can be sheeted to a sense that their lives are being radically disrupted by cosmopolitan, transnational elites.
People feel solidarity with the local community, not the globalised elite or even the asian workers making the sleds, computers, clothes etc etc.
Kenchy (glasser/sander), Brown-eye (glasser), Gypo (shaper/sander), Jules (sander) mean more to me than the brothers in Thailand. Human nature. But the guys who own Surf Agency are local surfers, they got families to feed, bills to pay, and as Snoop Dog says in Coach Snoop “Man do what he gotta do to take care of his motherfucking family”.
My moral certainty is shattered ladies and gentlemen of the jury, stuck between Voltaire’s cosmopolitanism and Rousseau’s communitarianism.
It took a while for the Insano to get out the back of the Camry. For shame. And weirdness. I eventually got it finned up with an MR twin on one side from Alkali fins Ballina and a quad set on the other, also hand foiled fibreglass made in Ballina. I couldn’t get a take on what an asymmetrical set-up was supposed to accomplish and so the board languished.
What happened next was a surprise. I’m a terrible surf snob. I cross the street to avoid shit surf and I know shit surf. Got my chops growing up on Bribie Island, a South Pacific backwater that makes Florida look like South Sumatra. In my world view a working gal with a family to raise monkey humping a high volume groveller in slop counts as a crime against humanity. To make a simple equation: Riding shit surf = taking the piss.
I ain’t no leave passer or board hider but after a couple weeks on the Insano Daddio Longtom started getting creative with little “chores” that had to be done in Ballina instead of making an honest living. Tiny little monsters stirred in his loins at the sight of weak 2footers. After work surfs in C and D grade summer Point surf started stretching into dusk and Pappy’s home life started to suffer.
The grass grew high around the house, so high we lost our only son in it. Pappys Jade stalk and Mammy’s sacred valley grew tangled and overgrown with neglect. Pappy was spending too much time with an asian asymmetrical and not enough on Mammy’s ski jump boobies and derriere you can crack a flea on.
The Insano was champagne and Ritalin*. Loose, unpredictable, slippery, light headed, unreliable, hyper-reactive. Dangerous fun. Like teenage sex. Experimentation for the gal with a family to go home to.
Why so? Because the experience was intoxicating. With a Ghost and the Insano in the Camry I had the high and the low end on lockdown. The Ghost was a buzz from a couple of Sierra Nevadas, maybe a brace of Bush Chooks necked post-surf in the desert lefts. The Insano was champagne and Ritalin*. Loose, unpredictable, slippery, light headed, unreliable, hyper-reactive. Dangerous fun. Like teenage sex. Experimentation for the gal with a family to go home to. Materials that once felt like a liability in good surf now felt like a revelation.
There is benefit to a certain species of human being in pursuing an asymmetric design path. As Dostoevky’s Underground Man in Notes from the Underground was paralysed by ennui and inactivity I see a Hypothetical Man of Means suffering under the weight of mortgage stress, marital and familial responsibility and boredom. And when I say Man I mean Woman and Man and every sexual flavour in between. Life grinds one down. Existence is an emptiness we must populate with meaning as best we can and if riding an asymmetric Asian-made fish in shit surf helps you get through the night then I say more power to your arm babe.
Existence is an emptiness we must populate with meaning as best we can and if riding an asymmetric Asian-made fish in shit surf helps you get through the night then I say more power to your arm babe.
Perfect waves are hard to come by and even harder to appreciate on their own terms. The wave-tub experiences of BeachGrit principals and surf hacks at Lemoore have taught us that. So I say, unless your name is Ryan Burch or Bryce Young, experimenting with asymmetricals in good waves is too risky. Choose a more reliable dance partner.
But if one turn and a close-out reo is your daily bread and you’re bored with white bread missionary attempts to couple with it, I implore you to loosen up the program. Does our Man of Means need an asymmetric fish? Only in the way a fish needs a bicycle, but what’s need got do with surfing? If this one wasn’t a goofy set-up I would jump the morning Jetstar to Sydney and personally hand this over to D. Rielly in exchange for a smashed avo and ristretto at the Trio Cafe.
The other great unexploited ecological niche for a design such as the Insano is as a low end travel board. We approach our OS surf trips with such high expectations – quivering up with sleek designs to ride dream waves – but the truth is underpowered reef breaks and thin-lipped tradewind swells are just as likely. Nothing is more dispiriting to the soul of our Hypothetical Man of Means than paying top dollar to jockey for position at an underpowered Maldivian reef with a posse of Israelis fresh out of the military. That’s exactly the time when you need fruitiness and unreliable handling in a surfboard. Sri Lanka, Maldives, PNG, Costa Rica, Europe, maybe even the motherfucking Mentawais if the forecast is flaccid. All could be rescued from being BS snorkelling trips by a gender fluid little small wave toy.
The Underground Man’s story went tits up, mired in shame, humiliation and self disgust: a precursor to the fate of the internet commenter.
Our story has a more anti-depressive ending.
With TC Gita approaching L.Tom put the Asian cue in the rack ,stopped at the servo and got flowers, cut the grass and once more Pappy’s jade stalk and Mammy’s sacred valley united and the ghetto cow paddocks of Lennox Head reverberated with moans of pleasure all fucking night long.**
To quote the Underground Man, “it seems that we may stop here”.
*Ritalin is Methylphenidate, an amphetamine analogue prescribed to kids with ADHD. It’s a helluva performance and cognitive enhancing stimulant and tremendous fun mixed with booze.
** PG recommended because drugs are stupid and parental sex is gross.v