09 October 2010

My First Custom Surfboard: Enhanced Mini-Magic

My surfing has greatly improved since I got Magic a year ago, but I still have a dream to eventually be a shortboarder, and 8'3" is starting to feel too long at times. I tried my 5'8" Xanadu Rocky hybrid shortboard again recently, and it's a big step down from the longboard. I need a transition board, something in between, to help me get smaller more gradually without sacrificing wave count.

So this afternoon I spent an hour with Santa Cruz shaper Ward Coffey, who was recommended with rave reviews by several friends. Although Magic was shaped by Bob Pearson at Arrow Surf Shop, it's an exact clone of Luke's wife's surfboard, so he didn't need to put any thought into designing it. My new board will be truly custom, shaped with my size, skills and goals in mind.

Ward asked me to bring in all three of my surfboards, and then spent a good amount of time quizzing me on where and how I surf, and where I want to go from here. With the 5'4", 5'8" and 8'3" laid out side-by-side in front of his shop, it was clear that there is a hole in my quiver. On a sad note, he said the crack near Magic's stringer needs to be repaired soon, as the wood could start to suck up water and expand. He told me that if the board wasn't epoxy, the same hit would have caused much more extensive damage. Not that I need any convincing to stick with epoxy for the new board; I like the durability, but I also like that it's lighter and feels more lively under my feet.

I explained that I'm looking for perhaps a shorter version of Magic, with 7'0" as a starting length just because it's about halfway down to my 5'8". Other than that, the board design was in his hands. Ward grabbed a blank and drew an outline of his concept using a number of wood templates, his French curves. Ward agreed that 7'0" is a good length since I swim laps for a mile several times a week and have good paddling strength and endurance. Magic's dimensions will be scaled down, shorter and a little narrower, with similar rocker. The new board will also have a squash tail for more confident turn control over the fins. Instead of Magic's traditional bottom, he's adding a more high-performance type of concave, but nothing as radical as on my 5'8" Rocky. He'll put on Pro Teck Future fins, same as Magic's, so I don't have to order them separately. He was more flexible about color than Pearson since he saw I take good care of my boards, but still wanted to keep it light since epoxy is more heat sensitive. We went inside and he unfurled a thick stack of color samples. The blue I picked is aptly named "By the Ocean."

Ward says the board will be ready in about 4 weeks, in time for my birthday (it's a present to myself). There's a rule that you should double the shaper's estimate, but I'm going to be hopeful that I'll be riding my blue enhanced mini-Magic on my special day.

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