Ride the Cymatic and feel like a master of the universe. No one else exists! | Photo: Billy Lee Pope

Cymatic Update: “What’s so wrong shedding blood to do what you love? “

More secrets revealed on Dan Thomson's latest planing hull design…

I won’t lie. Having the great Miki Dora accuse me of self aggrandisement, name dropping and providing minimal info on the board (Cymatic) was a kick in the nuts with a steel-capped boot.

He even vomited over the one positive comment my Bribie mate had given me in 40 years ( ollowed by calling me a useless cunt for not keeping on top of the regrowth from the Camphor laurels he chainsawed for me in December).

The real kicker, though, was being viciously impugned for not supporting my local surfboard shapers/builders. 

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Granted this board was made in Thailand, but seeing as the design, refinement and testing has all happened within a stone’s throw of my crib and I’ve known the bloke responsible for > 20 years, it was a bitter pill to swallow and, I think, quite unfair criticism.

Given the first person account is the only honest way forwards and the Indian will always trump the arrow, a more techno/historical description follows, including an update with Powerdrive fins from Mark Thomson, designed and built in Lennox Head. 

The theoretical roots of the modern Planing Hull design lie in the work done by the redoubtable Professor Lindsay Lord of MIT, whose book Naval Architecture of Planing Hulls laid out some of the hydrodynamic properties of same. Glibly summarised, his chief finding was that short, rectangular hulls with wide sterns were the most efficient planing devices.

Lord’s planing hull Bible was discovered by prototypical Californian Bob Simmons, an architect of the surfing lifestyle and famous for leaving a trail of oranges along the southern Californian coast. It was Simmons who declared the surfboard to be a planing hull and began the process of incorporating Lord’s methodologies and results into the surfboard. 

Dan Thomson was dragged into the Simmons orbit via Richard Kenvin in the process of making the great unfinished cinematic epic about Simmons titled Hydrodynamica. Dan took the straight-railed Lis fish into the realm of the modern high-performance shortboard via a process too lengthy to describe here.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Its performance capabilities have been described: super fast off-the-mark planing speed and incredible manoeuvrability. Its flaws: steering control in turns and obligate short-arc surfing. Redress via fin experimentation was attempted.

Mark, or Carcass as he is colloquially known, had seen the Cymatic in action and assured me the power drive fin, a kind of hockey stick template fin, would fix the steering problem. Days later, in the North Wall carpark a black Beamer pulled up beside me and Carcass handed me a package of fins out the window.

“Try these,” he said, “and let me know how they go.”

Today, in perfect zippering head-high Point surf they were tested. The board still paddled like a wet sock. Lady Luck and a little cunning strategy* in a thick crowd saw a set wave nabbed. The lack of fin base felt a little spongey through the opening high-line drives, to deter would be assassins from intruding.

The board whipped through a top-turn cutback and came straight back off the whitewater knuckle with control. More set waves followed. Steering was improved. A sizzling little session, for sure. A real little stoke-out. I did not fall.

Is this infomercial? I don’t know if these fins are for sale. Talking to others who had ridden confirmed my experience of improved control at speed. If you are on the modern planing hull trip you could try Googling it. 

On the way up the path, in the shade of a cottonwood canopy, I chatted to a new German friend, in booties and helmet, also on a Cymatic. He said he was a surf refugee. I felt compassion, brotherhood, but still faintly disgusted by the protective gear and the white puffy feet.

What’s so wrong with shedding a little blood to do what you love? 

*The frog in the Hole strategy. The frog waits in the hole, just too deep and off the take-off. Ignored, asleep: the frog launches out of the hole to nab the fly.

Surf Quiz: Would you shoot your kid for longboarding?

Or celebrate the diversity?

This is a serious question for our serious times. What if… and really go along with me here… what if you woke up one morning to the very pleasant news that your favorite local break was set to put on a wonderful show. That it was going to be 5 -8 feet with gentle offshore winds, warm air, warm enough water and let’s even say that it wasn’t going to be very crowded because of some sporting event or something (rugby league championship, Super Bowl… whatever). Barrels etc. and fantastic.

Let’s also say you are a proud father of a child who not only loves to surf but shows a preternatural instinct for the kingly dance. Maybe not future pro level but a real ability to almost tag the lip, air, barrel etc.

Now, of course you are very excited and run downstairs, or upstairs depending on the layout of your hypothetical dream house, and yell, “Daughter/son! We’re going surfing!”

Let’s say she/he whoops loudly and says, “I’ll meet you outside!”

You drink a little coffee, eat a little something, go to the garage and grab your 5’11, then to your hypothetical dream car and there is your progeny waiting for you with a…

… 9’0 log under her/his arm.

We all, of course, know that logging on flat days is so much fun but remember, proper swell is coming in here and you tell her/him, “Proper swell is coming in here.”

She/he responds, “Yeah! I’m so excited!”

You continue to eye her/his board up and down but there is no emotional response from your spawn except to say, “I’m a longboarder now!”

What do you do?

World Surf League fan paints new possible logo on cheek to celebrate move from France.
World Surf League fan paints new possible logo on cheek to celebrate move from France.

World Surf League to France: “Get bent!”

The governing body of professional surfing takes a jingoistic turn!

When the World Cup (Copa Mundial/Coupe du Monde) rolls around every four years it provides the opportunity for average workaday folk to put a fun face on wild jingoism. Flag waving, patriotic, chanting, cursing jingoism. But fun. And do you get caught up in the spirit? Do you cheer Switzerland over Brazil, say, because it allows you to be a touch racist without actually being a touch racist? Or are you Team Mexico jumping up and down while underdog heroes beat the big juggernaut?

Whichever the case, and again, the point is fun and after the matches Mexicans swilling XX and Germans swilling Spaten march swing arm and arm down the streets.

Somehow, though, the World Surf League missed that “fun” message and took this particular World Cup season to kick France in the balls. Press release? Sure!

The European headquarters of the World Surf League (WSL) will be set up in Lisbon, in what will be another step towards “positioning Portugal as the leading surfing country in Europe,” the Portuguese representative of the WSL, Francisco Spínola said.

“Lisbon and Portugal are going to be the showcase of European surfing for the world,” said Spínola, speaking to Lusa, confirming the move to the Portuguese capital after almost 30 years in France.

According to the official, this change is due to the organisation in Portugal of the main WSL events, including stages of the world tours for men, women and giant waves, as well as World Juniors, but also the proximity of beaches.

“In addition to all the accessibility of a European capital, Lisbon offers surfing half an hour from the centre and conditions for practicing the sport all year round,” he added, noting that the facility will be installed, initially in Lisbon, with around 10 to 12 workers.

Portugal is the European country with the most WSL events, organising in 2018 one stage of the world tour (MEO Rip Curl Pro Portugal in Peniche), three qualifiers (Caparica Pro, Pro Santa Cruz and EDP Billabong Pro Ericeira) and one for giant waves (Nazaré Challenge).

According to Spínola, the facility to be installed in Portugal will be a “decision-making centre” for surf in Europe, as well as for Africa and the Middle East.

Well hmmmmm. Does it feel necessary, to you, for the WSL not only to move its center (centre) of operations from France to Lisbon but then add that Portugal will “lead European surfing” that it is more “accessible” with better waves, better facilities and better workers? Then once more twist the knife by calling it the “decision-making centre (center) for surf in Europe as well as Africa and the Middle East?”

Does this not sound a little bit like when jingoism wasn’t super fun? Like World War I or World War II-style jingoism? Even the age of colonization-style jingoism?

Hmmmmmmmmm. To be honest, I didn’t know the World Surf League had it in ’em. I am excited to see the flag that they fly above its new Lisbon offices. I wonder if it will be black, red and white with four interlocking geometric waves representing Europe, Africa, the Middle East and the Santa Monica headquarters? Maybe something like this.


kolohe andino
When you get a hundred-plus sleds a year, there's gonna be a few spares to sell. | Photo: WSL/Sherman/@tsherms

Improve: Why you should buy an ex-team board!

These Ferraris will drive you crazy but there'll be…moments.

Don’t you love the accessibility of surf? That you can play the game right next to the best in the biz? Paddle out at Snapper or wherever and suddenly you’re inhaling the same oxygen as Gabriel, Italo, Filipe.

Even better is how easy it is to ride their actual surfboards.

How many average golfers are strolling the paddock with Tiger’s old clubs? Yet you, me, we can stroll into Channel Islands in Carpinteria just south of Santa Babs and buy a team board from Dane, Kelly, Yadin, Machado, Taylor.

Same with Mayhem and his Taj/Andino/Ward/Carissa …Losts in San Clemente. Give ’em a call. They’ll sell you an ex-teamer for a handful of shekels. Maybe even less than you think!

And if they ain’t selling, get on ebay. You’ll find DHDs for Mick Fanning; JS’s for Joel. These aren’t for collectors to stick on a wall. These are formula one cars you can drive.

How about this six-o of Ryan Callinan’s? Five hundred bucks. 

A Dane Reynolds for a gee. (It ain’t cheap but… Dane.)

For nine hundred Australia dollars, you can own a six-two JS that was made for Jordy’s 2018 Snapper quiver but didn’t pick up. 

Or JS’ own six-o. You think he wouldn’t put a little love into this? 

Pyzel tells me he sells all of John John’s trade-ins except for the “special ones. The ones with a story. They’re all stashed away in my factory.”

And you wanna know why you’ll wanna drive one?

Because these surfboards have been designed to win. Handmade. Lovingly handmade. Blood, sweat and tears spilt in their creation. Glassed with so much care, the builder conscious of the difference an ounce or two can make in the height of an air, the speed of a spin…

They’re not easy to ride, sure.

But life isn’t about cutting the same lines every single day, going slowly mad with boredom. You’ll experience the wildest frustration but you’ll also experience the tiniest moments where…it’s you…it’s you throwing the fins exactly…exactly…like you’ve seen on the webcast.

Maybe just one. But it’s a moment to cherish, to hold onto.

You’ll go faster than you thought possible. You’ll fly. You’ll crash. You’ll burn. And then it’ll snap.

And you’ll be a better surfer for it.

Mat Warshaw (pictured) wearing shorts appropriately.

Just in: Matt Warshaw buys a pair of jeans!

Preeminent surf historian rectifies mistake with dazzling turn.

Last evening was the second premier of Trouble in Jacksonville, Florida at Surfer the Bar. Matt Warshaw, David Lee Scales and I each woke up that morning in our separate jungle cottages and tended to various business before they went surfing with our magnificent hosts Kevin and John while I sat in the shorebreak and collected painful little sea needles in my Etro trunks.

What are those things? They are white, thin, one inch long needles and the water was filled with them. Some told me sea lice but I looked at a picture of sea lice and they were not that. Others told me sea butterflies but they were not that either. I did an image search for “sea needles” and all that returned were photos of hypodermic syringes floating in the foam.

I am still very puzzled.

Post surf we ate a healthy lunch at a natural food store, came back to the Atlantic Center for the Arts and recorded a podcast, then drove from New Smyrna Beach up to Jacksonville talking various surf gossip and laughing much.

Matt and David Lee were both wearing shorts, as men sometimes do in hotter climes. I was wearing the same pair of ripped jeans that have become an unfortunate staple of my wardrobe. They were brand new stiff Japanese selvedge five years ago and I have worn them, more or less, every single day since because they fit so well but now look like I’m trying to be in the band Danger Danger.

Shorts are, of course, the more sensible option but ever since I spent a semester studying in Cairo some 20 years ago now I haven’t been able to bring myself to wear them even on the most humid of days. Shorts are reserved for little boys and perverts in the Middle East and if you start looking though that lens it makes all kinds of sense. Grown men in shorts do look like little boys or perverts.

David Lee must have had some inkling of this truth because changed into a very nice pair of trim black jeans when we pulled into a parking lot near Surfer the Bar as the sun was dipping low. Matt Warshaw appeared crestfallen and stuttered, “I left my pants at home.”

We all walked the short block to our final destination together still talking though Matt seemed very distracted. Then, at the door while we were getting fitted with red floral bracelets signifying our ability to order alcohol, he suddenly disappeared.

“Where did Matt go?” I asked David Lee.

David Lee shrugged and we went inside to get some drinks. I asked for a Stolichnaya and soda. David Lee a margarita with salt on the rim.

After finishing and ordering another I went to the outdoor patio. Lo and behold there stood Matt Warshaw in a crisp, new, dark blue pair of denim. They fit him exactly right, perfectly, and he seemed very pleased with himself.

“Where did you get those pants?” I asked.

“At the surf shop on the corner.” he responded.

“Were they the first ones you picked up?” I wanted to know.

“I tried on two other pairs first…” he said and then his face turned almost serene, almost beatific “…and these were 50% off.”

Overall, it was a very good night.

This photo, though taken during the podcast, is what we were also wearing in the car.
This photo, though taken during the podcast, is what we were also wearing in the car.