"I fell in love with the board. Clearly."
Many, many great surfboard shapers, designers, builders ply their trade in my area. More than a lifetime’s worth, if you really buckled down and got on a custom program with all them.
Despite the awe I feel about that I nurture a secret kink for Californian surfboards.
Most likely some blood memory of early Byron Bay when surfboard factories festooned either end of town and Californian cats were everywhere, running the factories by legit and not so legit means.
The smell of fresh set polyester resin wafted through shops filled with incense and weed smoke.
It was heady stuff for Bribie kids.
Californian shaper Timmy Patterson is connected to this area, primarily via a second wave of surf immigrants from South Africa who set up board building enterprises, like Gunter Rohn.
All of which is a long winded preamble to say I’d coveted a board from Timmy Patterson for many years.
And when the opportunity arose, via a BG commenter who gets his hands dirty building boards in the TP factory, it sounded almost too good to be true.
It was a semi-customised process based on Italo’s Title winning IF-15 design.
Hassle free Trans-pacific process.
Sat in the cargo hold of a 747 across the ditch under the ticket name of BG’s Jazzy P, then Surf Cargo up to Gunthers factory in Ballina, where I picked it up.
Under the arm the IF-15 is exactly what it looks like on broadcast: a very smooth, super balanced feeling shortboard with a moderate, even flowing rocker curve, foil slightly on the generous side and a tad extra nose width.
]“Who’s that for, your kid?” asked the glasser there looking over the top of foam covered spectacles.
“No Toddy, for me,” I replied, confidence unshaken.
I did not feel scared of this board, which can be a legitimate emotion when you’ve got something vastly too advanced under the arm.
If there is a modern dichotomy in the high performance space it’s between the super twitchy, EPS/Epoxy, foiled-out sleds in the Slater Designs stable (with undeniable sky-high, high-performance ceilings) and the more neutral, easy to ride designs being ridden by the top two Brazilians (also with unreachably high, high-performance ceilings).
The IF-15, as indicated, sits squarely in the latter camp.
No one around, no-one out.
Usually means a White shark has cleared the line-up, which was in fact what happened.
Text my pal: Fun, no-one out.
He responds: Guitar lessons for kid. No go out. Head-high, crumbly point surf, with any wave I wanted, until shark paranoia took over or someone else showed up.
First wave made my soul soar.
Felt so clean. Rocker feels very sure-footed, very evenly weighted fore and aft. This could be romanticising but there seems something very ubiquitous in these Californian curves.
It worked going right on points, on chunky lefts, scrappy beachbreak, wedgey peaks. Cyclone swells, windswells. A totally dependable design.
I started out with AM-1’s, the blue fin that Italo uses and that felt totally fine.
That felt insane in clean two-foot lefts. Super spicy and responsive.
Unfortunately, that experience didn’t hold in chunky, onshore beachbreak.
The fins felt overly spongey, would wash out and lack drive in unclean water flow. For small, clean waves in say, the Maldives or wet season Indo, a definite pick.
That comforting rocker curve bought ample joy into my life at a time when mental health is at it’s seasonal nadir (summer). The increased nose width provides a stable platform for aerialists, as evidenced by Italo’s winning record in that area, but also adds a little surface area under the chest for paddle power and front foot planing speed.
No recreational surfer could hope to emulate much (if any) of Italo’s surfing. That would be an insane delusion. There is one familiar backside line Italo takes that is drastically enhanced by the design of the Patterson IF-15 and which feels achievable to the non-pro. I mean the high backside hook S-turn he does at Bells/J-Bay etc etc, sometimes, with devastating effect on the close-out end section.
That turn feels so slippery and natural on the IF-15, which I put down to the combination of elliptical thumb-tail outline curve and aft rocker curve. It’s a dreamy turn for a working stiff to pull off. Very, very hard not to claim.
I fell in love with the board. Clearly.
It’s a rocker curve and outline you could build a quiver on, as Italo has done so successfully. Duly noted, he was one of the few pro surfers in the Pipe Masters who did not cuckold their regular shaper with an Hawaiian dalliance.
And the boards looked sensational at Pipe.
My IF-15 ran to 6’0”, just under 30 litres. I hate the phrase Daily Driver, but in this case, I think an effective descriptor for a user-friendly, high-performance sled that has been proven to get the job done at surf spots around the globe.
After six months of solid use my PU/PE constructed version was still in A-grade shape.
Best board of 2019? Has to be, don’t it?
Timmy Patterson shapes are being built under licence in Australia by ultra-experienced shaper Gunter Rohn.