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

Saturday, July 17, 2010

New Board in New Off-Season NW Swell

Monday July 12 and Tuesday July 13, 2010

7-6 Freeline Ghostbuster

What happens when your shaper's Skil 100 loses it's bearings and his spare planers have all been cannibalized for those parts? You wait until he finds the parts he needs. What happens when your shaper feels bad about making you wait? He leans on the glassers and you get your board on time anyway. Freeline. John Mel. Da kine!

When it rains it pours. The 7-6 had been floating around in the ether for a while, but no big rush. The 8-0 L41 SIMSUP was something that had been percolating in my mind for a long time, but which came to fruition quickly. Fortunately I had the funds in my surfing account from some previous board sales so my cash flow stayed in the black. (Well, almost. The "to be funded" portion ended up being chump change.)

Interestingly, the designs of both boards influenced each other, although one was born before the other. The SIMSUP was influenced by my foray into the mini-Simmons design world which started with the 5-11 Freeline Ghostbuster. Additional design elements were tweaked and added in the SIMSUP, which in turn influenced the design elements (especially bottom contour) of the 7-6 Ghostbuster.

A four board quiver seems like enough. Two SUPs and two surfboards. One SUP all-arounder, good for paddling, and paddle surfing. One short SUP surfboard, great for paddle surfing all kind of waves on a stable yet loose, easy-to-turn board. One short surfboard, fun for summer beach breaks and fun sized reef and point break waves (think fish without the v-section in the tail cut out); one "longboard/hybrid" surfboard, perfect for juicier beach breaks and bigger, fast, down-the-line reefs and points. The 7-6 rounds out the above scenario by fitting into the longboard/hybrid category.

Reserved primarily for Winter waves and the better south swells, the 7-6 Ghostbuster (GB) is designed to handle speed and energy. The board delivers trim speed and flow through straighter rail lines and the Simmons influenced, drag reducing bottom contour. The quad fin set-up keeps the fins out of the water flow off the tail and adds maneuverability that a twin fin could only dream about.

I was fortunate that we received some small but real ground swell energy soon after I took possession of the board. I had a chance to ride it in decent wave and low tide conditions which gave me a good idea of how the board would perform in moderate juice and lot's of kelp. The report was good. The 7-6 GB is a great paddler, and bountiful wave catcher. Even though it's 3" thick, John foiled the rails so that it feels like a much thinner board under your arm. The bottom concaves give the board "extra" lift which helps in wave catching, and in getting up to trim speed quickly. Once up and riding, the board responds to rail pressure without a hint of bogging and is easy to place on the wave where desired. Acceleration and repositioning are accessible by alternating between the power pocket and the trough. It's not a thruster. You won't bleed off speed by throwing a ninety degree tail slide, but that's not what I wanted, and not how I surf.

Mini-Rant: Why buy a "custom" built surfboard, if it's not custom made to what YOU want, and how YOU surf, and WHERE you surf? In order to do that you have to know something about yourself, surfing and surfboards. And that is a huge part of what makes surfing FUN, intoxicating and dare I say, addicting? End of Mini-Rant.

The nose of the board is built with just the right amount of rocker, foil and bottom contour to make the board a prolific wave catcher, and to get it out of the way once I'm up and riding. No outside edges, overly flat nose rocker, or other negatives to interfere with the surfing.

But the heart of this board is under your feet where the channeled concaves, vee and flat sections blend to create a ride that is both stable, fast and maneuverable. This "engine" allows for maximum velocity and fun, in moderate to serious waves of consequence. Like the SIMSUP, John shaped in some intense vee (some might call it spiral vee) in the final third tail section. This gives the board the lift I like, and (like the SIMSUP) aids in allowing the board to turn more easily in spite of a straighter rail line, and wide square tail.

The designs I've evolved to enjoy are most readily steered by quad fin set-ups. Therefore, the 7-6 GB is equipped with Future Controllers and a set of Future slotted RFC Speed Dialers that I've managed to keep in my fin inventory over the years. I used the Controllers on Monday and was delighted at how well they worked. The feeling was smooth and well...controlled. The tide was such that kelp could have been an issue, but for the Controllers it was not. I didn't catch kelp once and I pulled down at least a dozen waves in my hour in the water. Tuesday I switched out the Controllers for the Speed Dialers. The difference was surprisingly noticeable but not detrimental to the ride. The Controllers have more rake, while the Dialers have less. Therefore it seemed like the board wanted to turn more squarely off the more upright rake of the rear Speed Dialers. But with the less swept back rake, came a minor issue with the kelp. I did catch kelp a couple times but nothing that greatly interfered with the ride. Suffice it to say that I'm looking forward to spending more time comparing both of these excellent quad fin sets.

I've only scratched the surface of this board's character traits, but it already seems like a friend. I'm looking forward to a lot of fun surfing on it and will write more later in an "official" review as I get to know it better.

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