For any of you who have been waiting for this article, I apologise. In reality this board deserved time spent and a lot of different waves surfed, in different conditions and in different mindsets. I finally feel that, after fulfilling the aforementioned criteria, we have a verdict along few injuries (as you might expect). Don’t ever say we don’t go the extra mile.
Let us cut to the chase. You may be looking at this board as I once did and trying to imagine how it would surf. I can hand on my heart say that the vast majority of you would be wrong. The reality is that this board is a concept, it is (as I said in a previous article here) a ‘middle of the night’ design that shaper Joshua John Dimery just knocked out. The board was rushed for a surf and a swell and the finish is not what Josh would call ‘up to scratch’. That said, it still looks awesome and turns heads in and out of the water.
The Starsky is around 6’0 which is to the tip of the dangerous looking tail, at it’s widest point it is 24 inches and comes in at 2 1/2 inches thick. The rails are turned down and there is a big double concave running either side of the middle tail (spike). The board has no tail rocker and very little entry rocker.
How does it feel in your hand? The closest thing I can liken it to is a skim-board, it’s small, light and difficult to get your arm around. Most people are surprised by how feels as apposed to how it looks.
How does it paddle? Like a dream! I weigh around 90kgs and am 6’1” and have a penchant for more volume than the average surfer. I was expecting the Starsky to be too small for a heifer (cow) of my dims. Not so, this thing felt like it had a motor attached and spinning around the lineup was a dream. Duck diving, again was hassle free (just watch out catching your foot on that spike).
How was my first surf? If I could use two words that sum up my first session on the Starsky the first would be ‘terror’ and the second would be ‘chaos’.
As one might imagine, there were more than the average amount of people eager to see success or impalement. There was hype in the office and talk of ambulances, health insurance from all those who thought me foolhardy for even considering surfing the newly dubbed ‘bat-board’ (if Batman had a board…). I will not pretend that all this was lost on me when I paddled out.
Tired of waiting for glassy conditions, the waves that day were head high with a light cross shore and a bit of a mixed swell. A little surface chatter on the water. It was go time.
The spike. Let’s just say that the thought of the ‘spike tail’ hitting you far outweighs the reality of it happening. I paddled for at least five waves and pulled off just overthinking catching my feet on those spikes. When I did eventually have a word with myself and put ‘feet on fibreglass’ the thing just fucked off without me. Nice. I may have taken Josh’s (shaper) name in vain at this point. The laughter from my colleagues ensued at this point. I doubled down.
The next few waves were met with overturns, fins skipping out and nosedives as I tried in vain to work out what was going on. I love riding different and weird boards but could I get the hang of this? Not (it would seem) in a month of Sundays.
My last wave in and I stood, resigned and relaxed just wanting to cruise into the beach. The thing took off. I mean, it accelerated with torque akin to a grizzly bear that has just spotted lunch. The power and ferocity was unlike anything I have felt on a surfboard.
Testicles fizzing, and with a shopping basket full to the brim of contradictory emotions and conclusions, I hung up my hat for the day. That is the point at which I knew this article would be a long time coming.
The Prolonged Testing Period
My second surf on the Starsky was one of exploration. I wanted to find out how to get it going again, work out how and why it happened. It turns out that I would spend a long time doing so, and many pirouettes and nosedives later, I may have sorted it.
I will try to sum up many months of testing into a sort of coherent babble.
I decided I would always put the Starsky in the van regardless of conditions or other boards, I would have a few waves on my ‘board of choice’ for the day and then take the ‘Bat-board’ in for a few extra.
The best day I had on the Starsky was a logging day in a crowded line up at an ‘indo-like’ right hander. It was fairly sizey and I shouldn’t have been out on a log but getting early to a crowded line up is something I can’t resist. The crowd started to die off at lunchtime and I thought now is the time to swap boards.
Like a single fin, this thing likes it best close to the pocket as apposed to open face. I had runners to the beach and it flowed nicely, even letting me nurse a few turns here and there. One cut back was ‘insane’, I have never replicated it, but it goes to show it is possible. That is the day I discovered the speed and how to get it. I started to think of it as a single fin, at least partly.
The speed (and this info came as a result of many painful fuck ups) is introduced as the spike part of the tail becomes parallel with the waters surface (only in the flats). What this seems to do is increase the planing length and introduce a short, violent burst of speed. If you know it is coming you can prepare and then the board becomes uber responsive. Then you can do stuff with rails and fins but gently as it’s easy to ‘overturn’.
The barrel. I did try this board a couple of times in overhead and hollow. At first I was (understandably) apprehensive about being mixed up with the spike in the barrel but, like I said, it never happened and the thought is far worse than it happening. For me, backside with a hand in the wall and one grabbing rail, it performed like a twinnie but weirdly was less twitchy. I need to test this more but it worked okay. On my frontside, it was really difficult to either get speed or control or when I had it.
Small days. I took it out a few times on small and clean and if you thought of it like a kind of Simmons, it was fun enough.
Now to the meat and two veg of this. Did it work?
The short and simple answer is no. This board did not work at all. It does however have a place in the evolution of a different kind of surfboard in my opinion. The tail and speed that comes from it is just magnificent and completely unlike anything I have experienced so far.
Did I enjoy riding it? An overwhelming yes, the journey and the exploration alone of trying to figuire this board out made me question my own view on what is possible in surfboard design.
I have made suggestions to Josh about how and what to change to make it better, I am no expert at all and the only way to get this thing manageable and to a point that it will be useful in an ‘all-round type of way’ is to get people to surf it. Give their feedback and move on to the next version.
Rome was not built in a day. How many models did Bob Simmons go through before he was happy with his contribution towards surfing, which was perhaps the biggest of all time. Surfboard design is a constantly evolving beast, sometimes the leaps are small and sometimes a board like this comes along and slaps you in the face like a wet kipper.
Josh has discovered something here and I implore him to make a version 2.0, to continue refining and playing. The Starsky was always meant to be a one off concept, an idea and a starting point and I am sure it is going to go somewhere.
If you want to come and try the board and you are in my part of the world, drop me a line and take it for a spin, just make sure you have your medical insurance paid up first.