At some point, usually early on in our surfing lives, we all came to the conclusion that we needed a surfboard of our own. Back in the day around here, for most of us, that meant stumbling across a used board for sale or bringing one up from the states. They were hard to come by. Boards have always been a big investment for a new would be surfer. I have always wondered if that sometimes all encompassing want for a surfboard ignites or focuses the creative juices of some people in a way that seems to overwhelm and take over the lives. For whatever reason, in surfing communities throughout the world there have always been those few surfers that were unwilling to leave the design and shaping of their surfboards to others. They have searched for a better mousetrap from a thousand perspectives and have brought us lightweight foam surfboards, rocker, spoon, shortboards, fish, guns, twinzers, bonzers, eggs, leashes, swallow tails, pin tails, squash tails, square tails, thrusters, fin systems, bottom channels, stomp pads, nose guards, and a list too long to get far into, here and now.
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Born in Ocean Falls BC, Bob Tinkler grew up in New Zealand, and shaped surfboards there and in Australia starting in 1967. He moved to California and worked as a gypsy shaper for various San Diego labels and locals.
In the 70s Bob drifted back to the BC coast and brought with him the current prototypes for his better surfboard. Bob took the concept of Greenough's flexible kneeboard and evolved it into the Tinkler Tail. The idea was to build a surfboard that would grow rocker while turning and then straighten back out for speed down the line. From the beginning the Tinkler Tail caught the attention of pro surfers like Wayne Lynch and Bob McTavish. After decades of refinement, Bob is back in Victoria, the Tinkler Tail has become the Wave Predator and the prototype I saw was in the body of a 6'2 Santa Cruz Epoxy.
CoastalBC.com caught up with Bob Tinkler on the beach at Surfjam this year to talk with him about the Tinkler Tail and have a look at the current prototype that was on display in local surfshops throughout June. Is this the better mouse trap of the surfing world? Bob sure thinks so. He preaches his technology like a Baptist and he is adding new converts to his 30 year old ministry.
Bob Tinkler: So, how the board is set up, when you are riding a wave and you want to set the amount of pitch angle to draw your turn, you can wind down the regulator while in the water so that it will stop the tail twisting at the right pitch angle for that turn. Then you can set your cutback rail which is a different, tighter turn with most regulation so the tail would twist more going in that direction and make a tighter turn. It's always following the flow and speed of the board. Because the board can be nice and straight, no tail rocker, so the board will hold a high, fast line. You only get your flex in your turn as you apply pressure.
Simple. Your surfboard becomes an instrument to really tap into the energy of the wave.
The production ones will look similar to this but in all the different ranges of sizes and models. Swallowtails. Fish.
CoastalBC: Is this one size fits all?
Bob Tinkler: No. This is just one of a class. It will go through the same range of all designs that are in the industry today. It's just a matter of adding the tail, with its unique dimensions and functions.
CoastalBC: So, can you use different fin configurations?
Bob Tinkler: It makes no difference. You're just actually putting energy into the tail. Storing energy, and being able to release that energy to give you drive through your turn. It's just going to make surfing faster and higher performance. The turns and the power that they can get, and the projection out of that, by storing energy in the different compression springs. Depends on how strong the wave is or heavy a person is, you can adjust the spring compression so it suits you, to get the most power out of a turn. The better you are, the better you can get it to surf.
This is the electric guitar of surfing. You'll have range of compression springs, that you use to tune your board
for the size of the wave, the kind of wave your riding, your style or how aggressive you want the be that day. You tune it up on the beach, then you go out, and then pick the pitch angle for the turns you want to make on those particular waves, coming and going. The transition between moving from one rail to the next rail is so smooth. Just like the back trucks on your skateboard. The tail's following behind you and the fins are on the same angle as the tail, so as you push your foot on the board, you're picking up incredible centrifugal force going through a turn and you can really feel the Gs when you hit a turn just right. It just forces you into the board and it squirts the board forward from the dynamics of the tail twisting. It just redirects the energy in the flow rather than interrupting the flow. As you carve through the turn it picks up G force and then you pick the direction out of your turn you want and you snap it. The tail immediately drives it's self back straight replacing all that energy that you just stored into it, and thrusts you through your turn.
CoastalBC: So is the first actual surfable, Wave Predator?
Bob Tinkler: This board is a retrofit mockup, "prototype" that was built for show only. The production ones will look similar to this, with all the added strength and reduced swing weight and properly balanced. That can easily be achieved when built in its own mould . There'll be hard points imbedded in the rocker panel and saddle for the tethers. This mockup doesn't have them. They'll prevents the rocker panel from bending beyond its designed flex pattern. We still want to get someone riding this and I explained this to Peter and the others, so whoever broke it wouldn't feel bad. We'll just fix it back up for molding.
CoastalBC:So when is somebody going to surf this thing?
Bob Tinkler: Tomorrow.
on the phone with Peter Devries a few days later
CoastalBC: Peter Devries. What was that Tinkler tail like to surf?
Peter: It kinda worked. That Santa Cruz was too heavy and too big for me.
CoastalBC: So it's just the wrong board maybe, not the wrong tail?
Peter: Yeah! I told Bob it has potential to work. I did feel some crazy speed out of it a few times.
CoastalBC: It kind of pushes back on you when you come out of a turn?
Peter: Yeah, sometimes. I don't know, it felt really weird at first. It was just all over the place and then I kinda got the hang of it. I only surfed it for half an hour and then I broke it. The thing holding the two tail pieces together broke open and that cracked the rails and stuff so...
Peter: Yeah. It was really interesting.
CoastalBC: Thanks Pete.