Wednesday, August 22, 2007
Here are great short descriptions and historys of the various styles of surfboards by Dave Parmenter:
LONGBOARDS: The garden-variety longboard shape is indisputably the most resilient design in surfing history. A lot of people forget that if the Polynesians hadn't finally migrated to an island with big enough trees to make their olo boards, we'd probably all still be riding prone on paipo boards. The ancient Hawaiian longboards literally created the sport we know today. The papa nui went on to bridge the ancient and modern eras, and is the only design archetype to have been built with every conceivable material, from koa to redwood to balsa, foam and even sponge. Today, the longboard is back in a big way and more versatile than ever. Often debunked for its "old guy" stigma or "unfair" paddling superiority, the longboard has endured for a millennia for the same reason we all surf - we love the "glide."
BIG-WAVE GUNS: The big-wave gun is the "warbird" of the surfboard design kingdom. Let the other boards strut down the catwalk with their garish frills and fashions -- the gun is as lethal and purely functional as the rhino-stoppers they're named for. The big-wave gun has changed the least over the years of any type of surfboard because the mission has never changed: build up a head of steam with three strokes, bust through the ledge, skitter down the face, reconnect and worry about the rest later. You really want to learn about surfboard design? Look at a gun. Its design components are the simplest and purest of any board because they're not made for Quasimodos, roundhouses or 540-to-out-of-its. They're shaped strictly for two things: paddle-power and survival.
SHORTBOARDS: We call them "shortboards," but today's state-of-the-art high-performance surfing isn't happening because the boards are "short." The ultra-radical surfing you see on shortboards is more due to an amazingly deft balancing of design features that seem contradictory. Curves and flats, torque and drag are all combined into the most complex, temperamental and volatile surfboard design ever built, then fused to the power plant of the power-hungry Thruster fin array - and heaven help you if you're a sloth-foot or over 30.
THE HYBRID: Since all forward motion in surfboard design stems from combining established ideas into new combinations, then technically the "hybrid" surfboard should be granted the status of being the most progressive surfboard type of them all. What?! You mean those bulbous, hideous "funboards" are more progressive than my Merrick, dude? Well, take a fresh peek into the "hybrid" skunkworks: these aren't yuppie-doofus eggs anymore. The hybrid design family is burgeoning into fresh new fields and is robbing the shortboard blind of its edges, flats and rockers. Now, they're faster, more forgiving and more versatile than anything the "hotties" are riding - why else would all the pros consider riding them in contests as "cheating"?
Now you know the background behind the board you're riding, even if you've built it or want to build it.
In upcoming posts we will be showing examples of each type of board with detailed descriptions and dimensions. Keep an eye out for this cool and informative content.