Harold: It reminds me of early thrusters that they turned out all through the '80s, before they chipped out and got really thin. They had a little more volume to them. It's the overall ride. I'm as much a slave to fashion as anybody else, and especially when you buy surfboards but the guys that are shaping boards these days are all shaping for the current crop of hotties.
The first couple boards my brother and I got were from Oregon and they were the same kinda shape. They were like 20 inches wide, 2 ¾ thick, wide tail, not as wide a nose as this one, but similar. When the first thrusters came out, they were all like that, period. Then they quickly lost volume through the '90s.
I remember buying my little 6' 3" in the mid eighties that I got from clean line surf shop down in Oregon. Lanny Shuller used to shape for them. He shaped Ken and me a couple boards. I rode that 6' 3" Shuller in everything around this Island, from big beach break, to the points, to more than double overhead on one of the big reefs, because I didn't have any money to buy another board and because it had the volume. The tail had a really thick V, like a really heavy V in it, so even though it was a squash, and it was small, it would hold in. I was testing its limits obviously, but it would hold in and it would work.
After that 6' 3" I started trying to get boards, and if they were off the rack they were to bloody skinny, you know? I just couldn't make them work. I remember taking two or three boards back and saying I can't ride these things. And then I would order custom boards and you had to be careful what you said on the order form. If you said I need a board with a bit more flotation, you know, and you tried to explain things, like Jack Bauer used to say "they translate that as KOOK, can't get to his feet at Doheny" you know? [laughs] So you end up with this big punky thing that doesn't work or it's erratic at best. It has been a number of years since I had a really nice little short board, a short-short board that really works well. I've always had to go with boards in the high 6's or even 7', the last board I had was seven foot. Those boards are great, but when you're trying to ride a wave like [what's her name], you know, when it's punchy and head high or a little less they don't work. You can't do any maneuvers or anything. You just got to get into it and go straight down the line. Even at really good waves like [x]. Remember a couple of Novembers ago you took some pictures of me there that day and it was a riot.
Such good waves, but even then you're trying to fit the board onto the wave face, and the wave faces were head high or so, and the board's seven feet long, and I was a little frustrated.
Harold on his 7 0 Nev, Nov/09/2002
Even when I was younger and lighter and more spry we all knew that you couldn't get a Hawaiian or Californian board made for a specific size guy to perform the same here as it would on the waves it was designed for. The very first thing, you just don't have the same buoyancy because it's so much warmer water and you're not wearing nearly as much rubber. A warm water board just doesn't have the buoyancy and flotation and then our waves are seldom as consistently powerful as they are other places, especially Hawaii. You might get a board from California to work OK up here, but not a board shaped for a similar size wave in Hawaii or Mexico or wherever. So you were fighting it if you ordered a board from someplace other than Oregon or Washington. You would end up with a board that was too rockered out or too chipped out because our waves are often times flatter, not as steep, and that kind of stuff.
When I first saw the Santa Cruz I was in the shop to order a new Nev. I thought about it and figured out exactly what I wanted and I saw the Santa Cruz and thought it was too small. When the Nev came, I took it out it just wouldn't ride for me. I couldn't make it do what I wanted to do and I was so disappointed. I took it back, put it in the shop and about two or three weeks went by. I can't remember exactly what happened but I remember complaining about it and Adam at the surf shop said "why don't you try that little blue epoxy?" Well I looked at it and it was a beauty. It felt good under my arm, but it just seems so small and wide. I thought I'd be spinning out on it and that it just wouldn't give me the range I need in a board. You know, I want a board that'll go from 3 foot to say overhead, and something that’s that wide and chubby…. I don't like fishes you know. So he said "why don't you give it a try?" Adam said he had taken it out at [n] a few times and it was just great. So I paddled out at [n] before the contest last year and it was solid 6 foot 7 foot and it was just amazing, just amazing.
CoastalBC: I saw some pictures from over there that day. It was pumping.
Saturday Jun/14/2003 surf photos by Noel Fox
Harold: Yeah, and it's just sucking out you know, and so I paddle out and I thought well here we go. I'll go paddle myself right into a hernia. So I jumped on the thing and started paddling and thought this isn't bad, this is great! Oh well, better wait till I do a bottom turn and I'll be bellying in the flats with the axe coming down. So I started to drop in on a nice steep, fairly steep little backside. Dropped in, the board almost breaks free, grab a rail, pull it over and the thing just takes off like a bat, I couldn't believe it.
I think it's the combination of the swallowtail which gives it bite and it's got, well, not heavy, concave, but the concave goes to more V than anything else so it shares some of the characteristics of that early Shuller board that I was talking about. That old 6' 3" that I had.
The Santa Cruz is 6' 4" and its like 20 inches wide, so the same kind of outline, a really curvy outline. Maybe that's another thing. It's curved and it's got a hip on it the same as the schuller board did that reduces volume in the tail but it's a full 2 ½" thick. Then the epoxy takes over with the added buoyancy so the darn thing paddles like my 7' 0". I couldn't believe it when I first got on it, I was just blown away.
CoastalBC: how come you don't like fish?
Harold: Well, because when the first of the new fish appeared, I saw guys riding them in small surf,and they did OK, but my attitude at the time was, I got a longboard and if I wanna ride small mushy waves I'll ride my longboard. I like the glide. I don't want to work and wiggle my butt all over the place to get going down the line. I hate that. And then when the waves got a bit bigger, the boards seemed to go all squirrely on them, so I didn't think the fish-like boards had much range. So that's why I didn't want to buy this Santa Cruz even though I liked the look of it. So that was a good lesson to go with my guts rather than my head and just pickup the board that feels good under my arm and forget all the other stuff. I'm not a surfboard designer. What do I know?
CoastalBC: how long have you had that board for?
Harold: Had it since June 2003.
Buying the Santa Cruz was really neat because now I can paddle out at [whats her names] and go for a surf and have a blast and not feel like I'm over gunned in anyway. Didn't have to take my longboard out, didn't have to take my bigger short board designs out. The Santa Cruz is just "in there" you know, it's amazing. I can't say enough about it. It's just unbelievable.
It's got to be more than just the fact that it's epoxy, it's got a really good design. Someone has done the right thing with this board and really stamped out a good bottom contour and a good fin set up. I've taken that board out in waves that were two or three foot overhead on the drop and it's gone square through it, no problems. It's only if it gets choppy, if it get a lot of bump on the water then I start skipping around. That's the epoxy working against you. It's too light and it just starts hopping over things you know. I took it out at [c] on Friday and I had a good time but I felt like, because it was a long period swell, it was really moving and although it was slopey and I could still get into it easy enough, the wave faces were longer on the slope and they needed a longer board. I'd get going and I almost squirreled out a couple of times and that doesn't happen that much on that board and I think it's got to do with the longer wave face not fitting the template of the board. It still worked. I just had to watch a little more carefully but it's been much more versatile than I thought that board would ever be. Those are my only complaints, though.
It's great to be able to go out at the Tofino breaks and paddle out there with your elbows up along with all the hot young guys, and get in the lineup and then pop into a wave and actually be able to get a couple of good moves off….. you know as good as I ever get, in a tight little situation. Before it would be more down the line because you just can't throw bigger boards around. As good as the board might be, you just can't throw that board around in that kind of wave the same as a shorter board. It's just lighter and fast, fast, fast, fast. It's unbelievable. It just about left me behind one time when I rode it! I'm serious. I took off, gave it a pump, and the thing just went woop….. out from underneath me. It's like, where did that come from? [laughs]
So everybody that kinda gripes about epoxies and no soul and all that, baloney. What ever turns your crank and I mean, if you're having fun on it, I don't care if it's a piece of plywood or the latest high-tech gadget to come down the line, if it makes a ride in waves more fun and keeps you out there, that counts.
CoastalBC: that's the truth.
Harold: Yeah, yeah… Wanna look at that old Max Wetteland?
CoastalBC: Yes I sure do.