Srfnff

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

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Board Review: Original SIMSUP S3/S5 Hybrid (The SNAzY)

UPDATE: (please see below).

Dimensions: 7'10" double winger (toeside), 7'8" asymmetrical (heelside) by 29.5" by 4.5" by 122L

From the minds of creative, knowledgeable and imaginative people come innovations that always precede, then exceed expectations. Bob Simmons begot the modern planing hull, while years later, Joe Bauguess & Richard Kenvin begot the mini-Simmons. Staying with the surfboard genre Dan Thomson built upon Simmons original premise and proffered the current era planing hull as found in the Vanguard and Vader. And in the SUP world Kirk McGinty burst forth with the Original SIMSUP series of boards. Starting with the S1 through S3 series, he continued his creative juggernaut with the S4 and S5 editions. These innovations have led to the birthing of an utterly unique amalgam of modern SIMSUP hybrids, blending tradition with modern hydrodynamics and always based upon his core values of maximizing speed and maneuverability without loss of stability. The board you see here which I have dubbed the SNAzY (Shovel Nose Asymmetrical simmY) is the vibrant result of my latest adventure with Kirk and the Original SIMSUP.

I picked the board up Sunday afternoon and had it in the water at my local beach break at dawn Monday morning. My initial impressions of the board are as follows: generally, it paddles like a bigger board, and surfs like a smaller board. It took some getting used to the shovel nose. It just doesn't look "right" and makes the board feel like a much bigger board when in fact it's the shortest SUP I've ever ridden, and at 29.5", narrower than what I usually ride. Not only is it the shortest at 7'10" on the toeside (double winger side) but it's only 7'8" on the asymmetrical (heel side). That should feel short in the water but it doesn't at all. Happily, I did not even notice a difference standing on, or paddling the board between my current 8' S3 and the SNAzY. Well that's not quite true. The SNAzY is slightly more tippy than my 8' S3 at 30.5" wide, but I didn't really feel any greater effort was needed to paddle, sprint, surf or maneuver the SNAzY. The sea surface was pretty glassy with some offshore wind ruffles, but there were rips moving around as well as some backwash from the beach which was sending some diagonal humps back through the lineup, especially after big sets washed through. Even on the areas of uneven sea surface I never fell off the board standing, paddling or sprinting for waves or rushing to get out the back and over set waves. The board paddles through foamy breaking waves better than any board I've ever ridden. The accelerated rocker in the shovel nose smoothly lifts the board up and over the whitewater and the landings are stable.

The unique plan shape that you see is deliberate and purposeful. The general specifics of the design and dimensions were made in collaboration with Kirk and with the indirect help of Michael Marina who had the first SNAzY I ever saw and graciously allowed me to ride it. It only took one session on the board and I was committed to this unique plan shape and the asymmetrical design.

The toeside wings are more pronounced than on my other Simmys and I was worried that they would somehow make the board slower or stiffer than my other double winger (S3), but no worries. The SNAzY turns and holds off the bottom without hesitation and there is no drag or lagging at all. The SNAzY rides the high line and goes fast, just as fast as my S2 and S3. Turnbacks/cutbacks are sleep walking. The board changes direction on the 7'8" asymmetrical tail like a hot knife cutting through butter, just as we'd planned. The board banks off the top and is steady and stable re-entering from the crest at the steepest part of the wave. Wider and heavier surfboards (think SUPs) have a tendency to catch the outside rail in the trough of the wave before the rider can put the board on rail and accelerate "around the corner" and into the clean wave face. This was an issue we specifically addressed with the SNAzY design by the 29.5" width and the slightly accelerated nose rocker. It works perfectly. While making the transition from the steep drop re-entry into the bottom turn, the nose stays well clear of the acute trough angle. The combination of the the k-rail and the double concave planing hull provides for nearly instantaneous speed with little (if any) noticeable deceleration. When the board has the occasion to ride the foam line it does so with no slowing, catching, jerking or loss of speed. In those situations it was almost too easy to slide the foam and turn up into the clean corner for more up and down action, or to flick out and paddle out the back for more.

Another important design element in considering a short, fast and maneuverable SUP is weight. The SNAzY is protected by a state of the art glassing application emanating from the Stretch factory in Santa Cruz CA. This process utilizes Technora Fiber seen via the unique crosshatch pattern inherent in the material known as Vectornet. It is defined as follows: "Aramid fibers are a class of strong, synthetic fibers. Improves flex memory on the bottom of surfboards, and core-crush and point-load impact resistance on surfboard decks. Also used in aerospace, military applications, body armor and ballistic composites."(1) In truth Vectornet has been around for a while and has been coming into greater use in the surfboard/SUP industry because of it's high strength to low weight ration. (I also dig the way it looks, especially on the SNAzY. Sexy!)

So, why did I go from a 8' X 28.5" X 4.5" X 119L S2 to the SNAzY S3/S5 hybrid? The primary reason is that I'm just not physically strong enough to keep from getting quickly exhausted when out on the board. If it was just surfing there would be no issue. The board surfs better than any SUP I've ever ridden, mainly because of low volume and the narrow width. But those two elements require more strength to balance on at rest and when paddling and catching waves. I like surfing beach breaks which typically have more chop and roll than point breaks protected from the wind or by land. It was just too much work to paddle and balance at rest on the board. Consequently my sessions were always shorter due to fatigue. I just wasn't having enough fun. SUP boards, paddling and surfing are like flying. It's a constant process of adjustment. Looking for that perfect balance between stability and surfability is part of that never ending process. That's (in my opinion) why we call them "custom" boards. They are custom built to the SUP surfers desires, needs and perhaps most importantly, abilities.This is self evident for those who have been SUP surfing for a while. Are you still riding the first board you bought when you started? I'll bet not.

Kirk and I collaborated to build a high performance surfing SUP that would surf as well or nearly as well as the S2, but would be less tippy and more stable in rougher conditions. The SNAzY is the result of that collaboration and although I've ridden it only once, I think we went a long ways towards resolving the issues I felt needed improvement. The shovel nose design allowed for more board width overall without compromising surfability. We kept the wide point at 29.5" (a compromise between 28.5" (S2) and 30.5" (S3) which is still excellent for putting the board on rail and therefore enhancing maneuverability.The asymmetrical tail was designed for ease in cutbacks. Not only did the overall plan shape allow for more maneuverability, it allowed us to go shorter, from 8' to 7'10" toeside/7'8" heelside, and still maintain acceptable volume (122L vs. 119L (S2) and 125L (S3). We were able to do this with minimal loss of stability. This is my fifth SIMSUP and each build has been an adventure as well as fun and exciting. Each new board aims for a new balance with the goal of extracting as much fun and pure joy from the SUP surfing experience as possible.

Over the last four years Kirk has invested significant amounts of time and energy into researching and developing the SIMSUP. (His design knowledge also includes building surfboards through L41 Surfboards, which he has been doing for years.) His high performance S4 and S5 models are built upon the plan shapes of the original S1-S3 series but they are incredibly advanced compared to those early boards. He has incorporated his knowledge and design innovations and continues to make products that the SUP world simply has never seen before. They say the highest form of flattery is imitation and there have been those who have tried to imitate the Original SIMSUP. But Kirk is the original, the creator. He's a genuine son of the Santa Cruz surf culture and the history of surfing and stand up paddling.

Update: My first surf on the SNAzY was March 24th, this year. I've had plenty of surfs on it in multiple locations, multiple situations and conditions from beach breaks to point breaks to reef breaks as well as summer surf on Maui. It is the most exciting and the funnest SUP I've ever owned. In a word, I "love" this board. I continue to be amazed and pleased by how fast and maneuverable the board surfs. It is also stable in almost all conditions including strong wind and bumpy, back washy seas. The SNAzY is 100% my "go to" board in all waves up to head high/one to two feet overhead at all spots where I surf. Even though it's short, even though it's got a funny looking snub nose, it can handle any kind of wave in that size range. Soft, steep, barreling, it takes 'em all.

The primary limitation in this board is me. I am too old to push this board as far as it can go. Under the feet of a younger and more skilled SUP surfer, this board would astound. I am slowly ridding myself of the notion that the SNAz is a small wave only board. I recently rode well overhead, 17 second, high energy south swell waves at high tide with significant backwash from shoreside cliffs and a lot of water moving. Six guys out, two on SUPs (me and a longer 9'-10' standard shape SUP) and the SUPs were the only boards capable of consistently paddling into the fast moving high energy waves. Drops were ledgy as you couldn't get in early...too much water. The loose maneuverability of the SNAz in small waves is almost a liability in large waves of consequence because it doesn't take much to move the board around on the wave. Making this adjustment in the mind of the surfer is important, especially if you don't ride big waves (think double overhead as a start point here) very often. I felt insecure and skitterish on the board for the first couple waves until I got my bearings. After that it was just pure adrenaline fun.

Contrast that day with the next in dropping swell at a different point break in 1-4' waves. Some were lined up with long fast walls and some were just teeny 1-2' barrels too small to tuck into. Those would just break into my legs as the SNAz just blasted down the line and onto the shoulder. Bar of soap, super slippery, kept coming to mind.

I took the board with me to Maui last Summer and surfed it almost every day for six weeks in small warm water waves. I'm going back for the month of November and my dilemma is which board to take. The surf will definitely be bigger and packing a stronger NPAC punch. My SNAzY or my S3? I still haven't decided.

This update is finished, but the story isn't. If I take the SNAz next month, I'll update again. Either way, it's going to be a SIMSUP adventure full of good waves and a ton of fun.
(October 5, 2014)

About me: 67 year old retired firefighter in pretty good shape. Live next to the Monterey Bay. Been surfing on and off since 1963. Paddled my first SUP in Hawaii in August 2007. Started SUP surfing in September that same year. Collaborated with Kirk (he's the one with the know-how) to build the first SIMSUP S1 which launched in June 2010. The SNAzY is my fifth SIMSUP. Hope to be able to SUP hard 'til I can't.

21 comments:

  1. Hi Gary, enjoy your blog ... are you interested in getting rid of your s3? I am looking for one but struggling a little cash wise so was will need to pick up one that has been ridden hard and is less cosmetically sound ... anyway, just throught I would ask as I see you are looking at new boards ....

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  2. Sorry Anon, I'm keeping the S3. It's just too good a board to part with, and I know I'll enjoy getting back on it every once in a while. I still have all the SIMSUPs I've ever owned (five plus the noserider) except the first S2 which went to the production people Kirk uses to make the first production SIMSUP S2. So that one no longer exists. I listed the custom S2 for sale for a couple weeks but then I thought more about it and I don't think I'm going to sell that one either. Of all the boards it's an insane surfing stick but requires a bit more balancing when paddling. Sorry bro.

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  3. Gary, outstanding blog thanks! How much do you weigh? What is the biggest surf you have taken the board out in and how did it perform? Are you able to surf the SNAzY from the front part of the board?

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  4. I weigh between 150-155 without wetsuit. I've only been able to ride small surf up to head high on the SNAzY. I've been in double overhead with the S3 and I see no reason to suppose the SNAzY couldn't handle that size. (Note: At 67 one must exercise some discretion so double O is about as large as I'll take (on purpose) I would encourage younger and more durable folks to go for it and find their own limits, both board and physical.) But regarding overall board performance, on the size waves most people surf 99% of the time, the SNAzY is outstanding. The S-series boards (round and shovel nose) will outperform or perform as well as any high performance surfing SUPs in the world today for all surfers including pros and recreational surfers. (Note: The second place finisher (Ryan Helm) at the Surftech Shootout held in super rippable overhead waves at Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz was surfing a shovel nose, square tail SUP.)

    The SNAzY has the same basic bottom configuration as the SIMSUP series. A displacement hull in the front for lift and ease of catching waves, and a "spiral vee" (double barrel concave with a fairly pronounced vee) aft which is the planing hull aka the engine that makes these boards go fast. They are not meant to be surfed from the front half, that's where the paddleability comes in, while the surfability is in the planing hull. That said, because of the slightly wider outline (overall) of the front half of the SNAzY compared to the round nose S-series, they can be ridden and paddled further forward some. Where I have specifically noticed the difference is that I can move further forward on the SNAzY (shovel) nose to catch a wave I'm a bit behind on, than my S3. This is an advantage because with the wider nose I still have lift further forward. The readout is that I can paddle into more waves with the SNAzY that I might not be able to catch on the other boards in the S-series simply by virtue of the plan shape (wider shovel nose). I suppose this is handiest in smaller, less energized surf where catching/rolling in can take more effort. I believe this would be true for persons of all ability and fitness levels.

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    1. One more thing....because of the overall width advantage of the shovel nose SNAzY, we were able to make the board shorter WITHOUT losing any stability. This is a huge bonus because generally speaking, shorter boards are easier to turn, and to turn sharply, therefore making them more maneuverable and loose. Add the asymmetrical tail into the design elements and the board is even shorter on the asym side. My SNAzY is 7'10" toe side and 7'8" heel side. GOOD = short, fast, loose and stable.

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  5. Gary, you are a good person, and have a book of SUP knowledge. I appreciate you taking the time to answer my questions. I am 41 (185) and in good shape, been surfing for over 20 years and SUP surfing for the last 2 (exclusively for the last year just about daily). I surf a ton of beach break (down here in Carlsbad) and am looking for a lot of the same benefits offered from the SNAzY. Mostly just want to max fun and wave count, have a job and kids so want to make the time in the water count. Thanks again Chad.

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  6. No problem Chad, I'm glad you can use the info and I hope it helps to get you a custom that is exactly right for you. Kirk is great to work with and if you have more questions for me, fire away. I believe there are several people in your area that have SIMSUPs. Even a shovel nose or two. Take care and enjoy.

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  7. i still ride my S4. Would love to get my hands on this S4/S5 mashup take it for a spin, the board looks killer. Glad to see your collaborations still going strong and getting more advanced. See you in the water soon...

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    1. Dana, you would love the SNAz. I brought it with me to Maui and it's been a big hit. Several locals have ridden it and like it. It's perfect for the small summer waves on Maui's south shore, and will go good when it picks up (if it picks up before I leave that is.) I've had a few good days, waist/chest and it is a ton of fun. Yeah, I'll be back July 1 so hit me up when you're in the Cruz and take it for a surf. Aloooooha!

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  8. Interesting little article I found on B.Simmons. Even you weren't around when he drafted this. - http://www.free-radicals.tv/harmonic-motion/

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  9. No doubt Robert and his brother Edward were a very "different" pair of individual geniuses. Bob and his brother Ed's (somewhat peripherally because of his invention of the strain gauge) contribution was enormous in the field of surfing and surfboard design (only recently recognized and dated forward with the mini-Simmons, the Original SIMSUP and Dan Thomson's boards.) Only a few, like Kirk, get the design. Idiosyncratic is putting it mildly when it came to Bob's behavior, but he was downright conservative compared to Ed. http://www.findagrave.com/cgi-bin/fg.cgi?page=gr&GRid=79907149

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  10. Love the various SIMSUP reviews Gary. Wondering if you've had a chance to try the ST model? I'm curious where it sits in the surfability/stability scale compared to the S2 and S3 (assuming it's in that range and not in the S4/S5 range).

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    1. Surfafrica, I have not surfed the ST model but here are some things to consider as well as my take on the split tail. First, Kirk will not add or modify any of the SIMSUPs based upon speculation only. He builds, he rides, he assesses, he decides. In summary, the split tail will work. Read the blurb on the OS website re the ST, that's a good, quick, concise, non-hype summary of the board.

      Re stability, wide tail boards lend themselves to stability. Here are the design elements that make them less stable, not necessarily in order of effect. 1. Width 2. Volume 2. Rails

      Width - the narrower the board the less stable. Overall length is less of a factor than width. An 9' 26" wide (conventional shape) SUP will be less stable than an 8' 30" wide S3.

      Volume - SUPs with less volume are less stable than SUPs with more volume. Therefore it is important to know how much volume you need to float you at your level of comfort/preference, and to talk to Kirk about it depending upon the board you get. Case in point is my SNAzY which because of the shovel nose has allowed for overall (nose to tail) greater width with a decrease in length (7'10" toeside/7'8" heel side) with NO loss in stability and more maneuverability vis a vis my 8' S3. (And because of the greater overall width from nose to tail, I was able to drop 1/2" off the maximum width and still maintain the stability I have with my 8'/30" S3.)

      Rails - K-rails aka S-rails aka step rails are less stable than conventional rails. This is because there is less volume and therefore less "float" in the rails of the board. Kirk explained it to me using an outrigger canoe metaphor. The outriggers have volume that keep the canoe from tipping. More volume in the rails keeps the board from tipping. K-rails (whether to have them or not) is very much a matter of personal preference. I love k-rails and all my boards have them. I believe they enhance performance completely at a very manageable tradeoff in stability. A useful comparison here us the S4. Go to Kirks Original SIMSUP website and click on boards. Then use the 360 degree animations to carefully study each board and notice the differences in rail shape and bottom shape from the S1 to the ST. In my opinion the uber hi-performance boards are the S3, S4, S5 and ST.

      Once you decide upon what kind of performance/paddle-ability/stability you're looking for in a SIMSUP contact Kirk via email and ask a ton of questions. He's really good about answering all your questions and explaining things from his incredible knowledge/experience base that will make sense to you.

      We can always continue our dialogue here as well. Cheers and I am confident you can get the right SIMSUP for you, and when you do...you will be totally stoked!

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  11. Thanks for the info Gary. I've been in touch with Kirk and have a 7'8" x 30/31", 119 litre ST on order!

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  12. Gary, I also want to thank you for your time on this blog. I am a few years younger than you at 63 and a little heavier at 195#s (over 200#s with wetsuit) and ~6'. I have been SUP'ing for 3 years (surfing for >40) and though not getting any younger still would like to continue progressing in my skills. You have inspired me to call Kirk and pick his brain as to what
    would be my 'custom' board. From all that you have written and Kirk's webpage I am
    thinking of the S3. Am still worried about loss of glide from my 9'4" x 30" x 4.4" round pin-tail by Art Colyer but will listen to the master! Thanks again for such a well-done and informative blog site.

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  13. Followed thru on speaking w/Kirk. Ordered the S3 but went conservative and went 8'8". I think he detected the uncertainty in my voice with the 8'4", but did say that the majority of people after 6 months had wished they had gone shorter! Well, I can always get another board. One question for you--would you place/recommend placing a stomp pad directly above the fin configurations instead of all the way back on the board? I read a recommendation for this as very seldom do most surfers have their back foot all the way to the end of the board.
    Thanks again for your blogs, Gary.

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    1. "I read a recommendation for this as very seldom do most surfers have their back foot all the way to the end of the board." This is a good point and the key words are "most surfers". The question is are you in that category? First, I agree with Kirk, you'll want to go shorter after you've surfed the board for a while. Second, the shorter the board the further back you'll be putting your back foot. I've stepped off the tail of all my boards which are 8' and 7'10, so I want the traction pad all the way back, especially on the 7'10". You can always hedge your bet and put it further forward than just in front of the leash plugs, but a bit behind where you think it should go (centered above the fins). If I'm going to turn the board hard and it isn't a rail turn I want to be turning it off the square edges of the tail. I try to dig that into the water and turn the board sharply off the tail. But that's me. Turning off the wall of the traction pad allows for more "leveraged" turns. Since this is your first SIMSUP and you're willing to get a second board if you decide to change things, then this will be your first experiment. Enjoy the learning curve!

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  14. I was looking to buy an hybrid sup but was looking for all the characteristics. Thanks for sharing all the information with us.

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  15. Na'u ka hau'oli (my pleasure!)

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  16. srfnff Same age as you... so thanks for the encouragement. Ordering my second sup and a first simsup on Monday. Crazy excited about this new sport for me. Jason.

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    1. You won't be disappointed Jason. I've been spending a lot of time on Maui the last couple years, and this board has been my Go To for the last year. I can tell you that it handles Hawaiian Juice very well and it has also served me well in lots and lots of gentler summer south swells. From the small to the tall it does it all. Geev'em Brah!

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