Am I being honest with myself ?... Probably not is the honest answer. Buying a new board should be fun, it's an exciting time. I think for most people there is often a slight sense of fear that accompanies that excitement and anticipation.
Will it work like you hope it will? Should you get a couple of extra inches? Is there enough volume? Is there too much?
Is the board you are about to buy, the board that you want to be able to surf, but probably can't, or a board that is actually going to help you catch more waves, improve your surfing and most importantly have More Fun? Personally, this last question has become a bit of an issue for me.
By now you will have surmised that I am in the market for a new wave craft, and it's true, like most of you out there I probably don't need one, but I do definitely want one. This time however, I have decided to approach things differently.
I'm early forties and have surfed for 30 years, almost all of that time I have been blessed enough to live in West Cornwall and Peniche, Portugal. I pretty much love to ride waves and luckily my business Silvercoast Apartments, caters largely for surfers visiting the Peniche peninsular. I ́d like to think that all this experience has made me a half decent surfer, I'm no Tiago Pires, but I can surf well enough. I do however, want to surf better, don ́t we all ! Something is holding me back. My age you might say, possibly? I ́m no spring chicken but I am in decent shape, eat well, exercise, stretch and surf daily... so its not age! A lack of talent, well probably... we all have a limit to our potential in any given field and maybe I have maxed mine out. Pray no !
The point is, I know I can surf better, how do I know this? Because many years ago I did. Everyday. This got me thinking, and this is where I needed to really be honest with myself. Is this an imaginary, nostalgic, golden past I am inventing for myself or was it real? So I chatted to one or two very close friends who I grew up surfing with and who have also been out to Peniche recently. The consensus seems to be, that yes I had definitely taken a step or two backwards. Not great, but also cause for optimism.
I now have confirmation that things can be better, I just need to find the magic elixir. Over a period of many weeks I really deliberated over the many possible reasons or contributing factors that had led to this deterioration in my surfing. The thing that I always returned to was surfboards. I have a number of different sticks ; the good all-rounder, a rounded pin for when I surf Supertubes, a higher volume board for those mushy summer days, you know the drill.
Looking back in time, the boards that I had the fondest memories of, were all Twin Fins. Not your fishy, hip, retro twin designs that have become cool of late, but performance twins fins, the Mark Richards shapes from the early 80's, the boards a young Martin Potter used to ride.
Problem solved, now for the easy bit, go and buy that nice new board.
My wonderful "other half" having witnessed my surfing mid-life crisis at close quarters, had sanctioned what should be more than adequate funding ( or so I thought).
"Support your local shaper" is generally my motto when it comes to purchasing a new stick. The Peniche area has a number of capable board makers, a couple of which have shaped me excellent boards in the past. These were my first ports of call. Simple really... pop in, have a chat, go over dimensions, chat some more, discuss fin type and any graphics, haggle over price and how long it will take. Sorted... But no, my first two stops didn’t really want the job. They were happy to shape me a short, fat, fishy twin fin for small summer mush.
They were not however, interested in shaping the kind of board I was after. The perceived wisdom seemed to be that these outdated shapes had no place in my board rack. However, I knew what I wanted and was determined to get it.
I started to do a bit of research and soon discovered through the wonders of the web, that many other people worldwide had also cottoned on to the benefits of the performance twinny, in fact the Californians and Aussies were very open to giving them a modern twist. Improved rocker lines and bottom contours were getting very positive results and feedback... the buzz word here seemed to be FUN. On the other side of the world, even the big name board companies, had brought out or were in the process of bringing out, a performance twin model. One or two of the models available looked like they were just the ticket! Here is where I hit a snag, none of these models were available in Europe yet. I could order directly from the states or Oz but the shipping and import fees, took the final cost into orbit... at least for me anyway.
Earlier I expressed a desire to support my local shaper(s). It didn’t appear to be an option in this situation. A good friend of mine, right from the outset, had suggested that we take a look at a shaper he knew well, just down the coast in Ericiera.
I had heard great things about Nico from Wavegliders but somewhere along the line, the seed had been sown in my mind, that Nico ́s boards were a little close to the whole retro thing that I was trying to avoid. My friend and I did however decide to take a trip down to Ericiera and speak to the master shaper himself, we dressed it up as a research trip to help me find "the Twin Fin" and coincidentally we knew that Ribeira d' Ilhas was due to be firing on the morning of our trip.
We had epic surf in the morning at perfect uncrowded 4-6ft Ribeira d' Ilhas. For those not familiar with this part of the world, this is a lovely long point/beach/reef, that is very rippable and very similar to a lesser known wave very close to my house. It was waves like these that had been my inspiration for the "twin fin" mission.
Fueled by the stoke of an awesome surf, my friend spotted that now might be the perfect time to get me into Wavegliders and find me a Twin Fin. He was right, as soon as I spoke to Nico, I knew that it would end well.
I had a little worry about dinhero. Nico ́s boards are not cheap. The quality and craftsmanship are apparent immediately however.
After discussing the morning's perfect waves, and the amazing run of swell and weather, we got down to business. At the mention of the words "MR" and "Twin Fin", Nico was off... it was like he had read this article before I had even conceived it. He knew what I wanted, why I wanted it, what I was hoping to achieve... everything.
Nico pointed to a set of scales asked me to hop on... looked me up and down a few times and proceeded to design me a surfboard. No shaper, in fact nobody that I have ever been to to have something made, has ever left me feeling so confident that I was going to get what I want. For me this was fantastic. I don’t know if this is normal with Nico, or if we just hit it off, because we feel the same way about surfboards and surfing. If he makes everyone feel this way... then it is a gift.
So... what did I end up buying? Its beautiful. Burnt orange might not be for everybody, but I like it. Also I didn’t ask for colour, it was a little unexpected bonus as was the polish finish.
She is 6 ́5", I say she, it ́s name is actually "The Magic Carrot" The Magic Carrot is 6`5", 20" wide, with the wide point forward of center. Thickness is 2 5/8" but the rails themselves feel much thinner. Rocker is pretty modest in both the tail and nose, but has a nice flow through the whole board. The winged swallow tail is very much in keeping MR twin fins. The bottom is where the magic is, a deep single concave into spiral vee in the tail. This board flies, it gets into waves early, cruises through flat spots, I find myself flying around sections that I never would have attempted before. It loves point breaks. I even took it out on a head high day at Coxos and it made every wave fun.
What ́s the volume? Some of you are asking, no idea, at a guess 36-38L. Nico says he doesn ́t know and that it should just feel right... which indeed it does. This board has never been near a shaping machine and therefore volume never got calculated... I kinda like that.
Its not perfect... Nico convinced me to have 6oz+4oz on the deck. Something I have never had before and probably wouldn’t do again, it's added a tad more weight than I like. The board does feel beautifully well made, and on close inspection the attention to detail and glasswork is beautiful.
My surfing hasn’t necessarily improved, but I am surfing better... if that makes any sense. I catch more waves, I finish more waves, I have more fun. The board and I are not as loose and skittish as I hoped we might be. "The Magic Carrot" and I are only a dozen or so surfs into our journey together, I suspect it is going to be a long and enjoyable one.