Custom Board – About Time


Four years in now and I’ve pretty much lost count of the stand up boards that have crossed my path. When I was surfing prone longboards I would probably order a new custom every 3 or four years and each new board would usually ‘retire’ it’s predecessor gracefully but totally.

The idea of buying a ‘pop out’ was alien. I always wanted a little bit of ‘Me’ in my boards and bizarrely I liked the notion of using a local shaper. Quaint eh!

Then along came the standup’s and everything changed.

Board ownership  has been measured in weeks and months in what must look like an orgy of stand-up spending. Fortunately a lot of these boards were subsequently snapped up by fellow SUPaddicts. Limited supply (here in the UK) meant that depreciation was pretty much non existent especially on the used boards and moving boards on and between friends was commonplace and easy.

The source of this board fever could  partly be traced to the progression that had taken place in my still limited abilities and also in the availability  and design of the boards on the market that convinced me that I could advance said limited abilities.  Funny I never bought into this with prone boards perhaps it was the excitement of being close to the beginning of something new and evolving. Perhaps it was a perverse form of pressure that stemmed from keeping this blog. Who knows? But the boards kept coming thick and fast.

So where now?

I have no doubt that for me boards are fast approaching the end game in terms of size and possibly design. As far as size is concerned both Gong and Starboard are now producing boards under 7′ and even sub 6′.

 At some point the paddle advantage on a stand up is going to be lost over lying prone especially on windier days when we present a significant sail area when standing and with shorter boards offering little or no glide advantage over lying prone we may as well ride prone boards.

Design? – Well I could be wrong but there can’t be that many undiscovered ‘magic’ hull shapes, rockers, plan shapes, rails etc. etc. that have not been tried and tested on conventional surf boards over the years. There may be as yet untried combinations and maybe new materials and construction methods but true design?  Not sure.   Which is why Dwight’s custom shape made so much sense.

I had been hankering after a custom board for a while and the thought of riding something shorter than my 9’0 Mana was an itch that was gaining in intensity.

 My Nah Skwell 7’8 proved beyond doubt that short was not only viable but also capable of wringing more out of less than perfect conditions.  When Dwight over on ncpaddlesurfer started down his  foam frenzy of home shaped boards I watched with envious admiration.  He first shaped his downwinders which was impressive, but he really caught my attention when his first surf stand up was hot-wired from the solid block of foam.

His philosophy seemed simple and obvious – take a proven surf shape and blow it up to a size that would support a rider and paddle. Keep the hull flat in order to maintain wetted area helping with both stability and speed. Beautifully simple, and for me the fact that his Naish 7’8″‘s were immediately put up for sale and sold bore testament to his shape.

There was no way that I could personally copy Dwight’s handiwork, as I said to him in a recent email my manual skills are stretched when I have to dig a hole with a shovel. My only option then was to get a blank machine shaped using DW’s detailed CAD designs and then get a local shaper to glass the beast –

Easy right – WRONG!!

Phone call to Tris at HomeBlown surf blanks.

‘Urgh Hi, I don’t suppose you could shape me a Stand UP blank could you? I’ve got some drawings and numbers for your shaping machine’

I was desperately trying to sound

a) serious

b) not a numpty

c) Technically together

There was no chuckling from the other end, I don’t think I even detected a snigger.

“Yep, no problem, send us the drawings and we can give you a price.”

Bloody hell that was easy. So I sent over DW’s drawings and back came the quote – £180.

BLOODY HELL this was going to be a doddle and not crazy expensive.  Better ask a few questions.

‘So how finished would that be?  What weight foam is it?  Would it have a stringer?  How long would it take? Could you glass it?’

I was now sounding

a) desperately naive

b) like a cock

c) totally clueless

The answers came back almost as quick as I had asked them.

‘An hour or two hand shaping to finish’, something in kg/m2 that passed me by totally, ‘no’, ‘3 days’ and ‘yes, but not a chance’

“Brilliant”, I said “lets do it”

So I paid my money and set out on a quest to find a glasser to finish my board.  It would have been easier to milk a Unicorn.

Call one –

‘Hi  – it’s Steve, how do you fancy glassing a board for me, it’s ok it’s not huge, in fact it’s just 7’10, yes it’s EPS. Right so it needs to be done in Epoxy. Right so you’re not keen then because you think it will fall apart and you could end up with herpes. OK not to worry, thanks’

Strike one.

Call two –

‘Hi Any chance of glassing a Stand Up Blank for me,     .     .     .     .     yes in epoxy, ok so you would rather nail your hand to tree Mmmn so that’s a no then is it?.’

Strike two.

Call three –

‘Hi  any chance that you can glass a Stand up blank in epoxy for me, it’s pretty much finished, just needs glassing.  You can!! Fantastic !!!  £1800 and it will probably be a pile of shit, the EEC will fall apart and I’ll get herpes.  Mmmn, not short of work then?’

‘F@$k Me – Will someone somewhere just glass my F@$king blank!’

  I could be in trouble here or worse – I could end up doing it myself!!

Call from HomeBlown three days later.

‘Hi Steve it’s Tris, your blanks ready’

“Great! – I’ll be over to get it then.”

They could hear me crying down the phone.

To be continued – with pictures.