G. Niblock on the L41 TipSUP Noserider. Photo: J. Chandler

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Lookin' At Laydowns

After surfing SUPs almost exclusively for the last two years, I'm looking at getting back on a laydown surfboard to add some variety back into my surfing experience, and also (quite frankly) to surf again at some of my favorite surf spots that are mostly "reserved" for laydown surfers only. I had a brief flirtation with a Miller Bluecoil that was fun, but at my age, and for what I want to do, a custom is in order.

My friend Eric has a 6-6 Randy French Surftech TL2 for sale used, a nice board that I tried this morning in mushy to closed out surf. Not great waves, but good enough to know if the board was going to meet my needs. It's a fun little board that works well, even in lousy conditions, but for me it's just a bit too small. The dims on this board are substantial for a shortboard and I really like the TL2 technology. Specs: 6-6 X 15 3/8 X 21 X 15 3/8 X 2 1/2. Rocker measures 5" at the tip and 2 3/8 at the tail. Rails are soft to hard and the bottom config is concave to double concave to gradually increasing vee out the tail.

This thruster has all the design elements I like (except that I'm not a big swallow tail fan). But it's just a bit too small for me as an aging, less flexible surfer. It floats me and paddles well for a 6-6, but I need a little more float and paddling power than this board can deliver. A little extra length will let me move forward a bit on the board, give me a little more "glide" and paddle power, and also allow for a less compressed pop-up than I used to be able to do. But if this board was the 6-10 or 7' I'd definitely take a real hard look at it, and surf it some more.

So what I've opted to do is have a custom made by Ward Coffey. Ward is one of the most competent and advanced shapers in the world. He HQ's on Santa Cruz' Westside, and can build anything. Check his blog and his watercraft. If it floats, Ward can build it. I met him out in the water last year at Cardiff. We were both attending the Sacred Craft Expo. Ward was one of the elite shapers who was invited to compete in the "Tribute To The Masters" shaping competition. He's an all-around waterman who surfs everything from laydown shortboards to stand ups. As you can see from his blog, he hangs with some pretty rare company. He was also invited to compete in the elite class of stand up paddle surfers in the first SUP surfing contest as part of the 23rd Annual Kayak Festival. He was surfing with some of the best in the world.

Ward and I met a couple days ago to rough out a basic plan shape after we talked about what I liked and wanted in a custom. As of now we're looking at something close to a 6-10 rounded pin with wings. Thruster/quad fin set-ups. Lightweight construction using Styrolite and Ward's regular glassing schedule. Dims are 6-10 X 15 1/2 X 22 1/2 X 15 3/4 X 2 1/2. Rails will go soft to hard and bottom config has not yet been finalized, but I like the single concave for a little extra lift in the nose blended into double barrel concaves for speed and maneuverability exiting the tail with some vee so the board will go on rail with ease. It won't be a flat bottom and there will be enough rocker in it for full face carving (or as close as an old guy can get to it) but with enough edge and planing area for the board to lock into a speed line and move out smartly.

Of course you need a guy who's an expert to take all the elements and meld them together into the final package. Ward is definitely the man for the job.

Apr 2, 2009 (Th)
In: 0905
Out: 1020
AT= 51.1F to 52.6F
WT= 50F
Wx: Partly cloudy
Tide: .7' Falling to -.8'
Wind: Light from the southeast
Sea Surface: Wind ripples with wind swell chop on top
6-6 Randy French Surftech TL2 Swallow Tail
Fin set-up: Standard Thruster with Future Vector II R2 435 sides and F4 437 center.
Bathymetry: Sand bars
Deep Water Swell and Wave Face Heights CDIP Archive
Buoy: NWS (Nearshore)
0900: 2.6 feet @ 15.4 WNW (2 - 4 ft. faces)
0930: 2.6 feet @ 15.4 WNW
1000: 2.6 feet @ 15.4 WNW (2 - 4 ft.)
1030: 2.6 feet @ 15.4 W


  1. Very cool Gary. I've only ridden one of Ward's boards, a semi high performance 9-0, and it was terrific. No doubt he'll make you a nice shorty. I took some time to check out his blog, very cool, thanks for posting.

  2. Yeah Ward's a really nice guy. When I was in his shape shop he had a nice little longboard up on the racks with the newly glassed decked waiting to be sanded. He said it was for his son. How bad is that? Growing up in Santa Cruz and your Dad is a surfboard builder! Nice way to grow up eh?