Shaping for *fun-sized* adults?

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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

Hi, even though I've surfed a few dozen stock surfboards over the years, I am not stock size ( 5'2", 130, 43yo). So, I decided to talk to some shapers about ordering a custom board or two (shortboard/hybrid). Unfortunately, I got dramatically different suggestions. One guy basically just wanted to scale down one of his shapes. One guy suggested going short and wide. Another suggested going narrow with beveled rails and a thicker center. To add to the confusion, none of them gave me a straight answer when I asked if they had any experience shaping for guys around my size/age. Maybe someone on here knows better? I don't expect all shapers to agree on everything, but I also don't want to pay to have someone re-invent the wheel if others have some tried-and-true wisdom on the subject. Thanks for your insights!

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Surfdude's picture
Joined: 01/03/2018
What kind of waves and what riding style do you prefer? Ripping, fun, stylish (longboard)? you just wrote you want a shortboard, or hybrid. I'm not a real shaper, more a hobby builder, but I would consider the following as guidelines: Small and short board mean low swing weight, good for manouverability, bad floaters, harder to paddle, good to rip and ride in and only in the pocket of the wave Age is one part, what counts more is fitness. Usually fitness decreases slightly with age, so a board that paddles easy may be appropriate and I think weight is more important than size and with 130lbs. you are not too light. Narrower boards are better in steeper waves, wider are easier to ride and may be more forgiving. The longer and more volume, its easier to paddle, its harder to manouver but more glide, main advantage is easier wave catching and surfable in any wave, ripping worse. Since you rode a few dozen stock boards, there must be at least one or two favorites of you. This would give me the direction. finally it is all personal preference. You should know what you want, and then the shaper has something to orientate.
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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018
Thanks Surfdude. Yeah, I agree with all of what you said. I didn't want to come on here with the typical "what kind of board should I get" shit. The convo w/ the shapers has been a bit more involved than what I wrote above. Mostly I surf Northern California beachbreak, sometimes points and reefs; usually in a 4/3 wetsuit w/ boots. Surfing a couple of times a week year round and in decent shape, solid intermediate w/ nothing too radical. So, mostly the shaper conversation has orbited around creating a more compact version of what I like while trying to maintain enough volume for my age/weight. My current quiver runs from 5’7” domesticated shortboards up to 8’6” longboards with points in between. In general, there are two main issues I run into on many of the boards I’ve surfed: 1) Having to take a wider stance to be on both the tail and the sweet spot; and 2) having to climb forward on the drop and then quickly get back. I think both of these aspects are related to my size and at least the shapers all agreed that I probably have too much length on my boards but maybe decent volume for my age. The challenge then becomes how to build a domesticated performance board for beach breaks that's proportionate to my height while still being able to float/paddle my aging 43yo body. Or, what’s the best strategy to hide volume without just creating a groveler? This is where the guys I talked to disagree, but I figure someone’s gone down this road before. I mean, there are plenty of “big guy” shortboards out there that aren’t just funboards. What about “small guy” shortboards that aren’t just grom boards or grovelers?
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Surfdude's picture
Joined: 01/03/2018
Well if you surf several times a week all year round, you must be more than intermediate, but I understood the stance and weight points you have made. Compared to you, I'm a beginner, because I only have the chance to surf on vacation, which is an average of 4 weeks a year :( That is the reason,why I wrote I'm more a builder than a shaper, although I'm shaping my own builds too. Back to your problem. For a decent shortboard I would go very short, to eliminate stepping and allowing shifting bodyweight, which might be in your case less than 5'7". Then I would increase the deck height slightly to put more volume into the board. A shaper should simulate this in an CAD programm. Using the parameter height, the only weight addition is basically foam, which is about 30g/l. Adding 5l of volume means a weight increase of a guessed 200g, which should not be that influence. An increase in height of 1/4 should do the job. To get to the wanted volume you may look on the volume of your 5'7". Then I would discuss with a shaper for example to build a 5'3" with the volume of the 5'7" by increasing deck height. For myself I usually try to emulate a given board in a CAD Programm (BoardCad) and then i increase the height to get to the wanted volume. But as said, I'm not a real experienced shaper, but all my boards at least work for me.
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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

Surfdude wrote:

Well if you surf several times a week all year round, you must be more than intermediate, but I understood the stance and weight points you have made. Compared to you, I'm a beginner, because I only have the chance to surf on vacation, which is an average of 4 weeks a year :(

Thanks Surfdude, but I wish it were as simple as getting in the water.  Quality of the session has so much to do with it.  When I surf Santa Cruz, I get more turns in on a single wave than I do sometimes surfing Ocean Beach for an entire session.  They call it "surfing" but it should probably be called "paddling, waiting, more paddling, closeout".  I'm intermediate at surfing but an expert at getting caught inside and pulled by the currents. ;)

Also, I much appreciate your thoughts on deck height - helpful!

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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008
1) Having to take a wider stance to be on both the tail and the sweet spot; and 2) having to climb forward on the drop and then quickly get back. From that description I'm getting the impression to surf off your front foot (which a lot of people do) and that you would prefer a closer stance. Really, that's more of a traditional longboard thing, which if if you're going to bring that into a shortboard suggests that a conventional 5-7 x 18.5" relaxed shortboard shape with a thruster setup would be almost the worst thing you could do to yourself. If you're front footed and a little averse to be widening your stance or moving your rear foot around then a design that allows you to pop a little forward and basically stay there might work for you. TO ME, that would suggest a wide-point forward shape with possibly a rounded tail and a twin setup, mounted maybe 8" forward of center. Then the sweet spot for your rear foot is over those twins at 8" rather than over the rear of a thruster set at 3.5". Add a short tail dragger or nub for stability. I was kooking around with the CAD a little to do a rough illustration of what I'm talking about. If you're not shuffling around on the board then the length shouldn't be a problem for you. I put the wide point a couple inches forward of center so that puts the wide point and the center of mass closer to your front foot. If the 25 liter volume is too much for you then just thin the thickness down - leave the width under your chest so the board will paddle and drop in more quickly for you. Add some concave under your front foot flowing to a shallow vee panel in the tail to loosen that up, and your twins should be right under your rear foot. The board won't be as drivey because of all the curve but it should hold the face and it should come around pretty easily.
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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

Thanks Gdaddy, that's great and it gives me a lot to think about.  The wide point forward makes a lot of sense.  Currently, I surf all of my boards (except the longboards) as quads.  I've surfed a twin keel fish and a MR-inspired shape w/ twins and a nub.  I loved them frontside but found them a little lacking on my backside.  Probably more a reflection of my abilities than the boards.  But, the idea of being over the twins in relation to stance is interesting.  For the most part, I'm not looking for a really narrow stance but I don't want to be stinkbugging it either.  Looks like a fun ride!  Do you happen to have a side view?

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WideAWAKE's picture
Joined: 02/20/2013

Run it as a quad on the back hand

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"We ain't on our way to Wembley,we ain't gonna win the league. No matter how much they let us down - Westham's still our team"...

gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

This was just a 5-min quickie to illustrate a point, not an actual design.   Here are a couple more screenshots but it would take more time/effort to get the curves right.  

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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

Yeah, I hear ya.  I was mostly just curious to check out the rocker and foam distribution through the middle.  Thanks for throwing that out there!

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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

FWIW, I measured my ideal stance at about 30" (back edge to leading edge) and my actual stance at about 33"-36".  For reference, my shoulders are about 22" wide.  Maybe that gives some sense of the overextension I'm talking about. 

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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

You might actually like a twinzer.  I should have thought about that before.  A twinzer puts a leader fin ahead of the main fin with the trailing edge of the leader overlapping the leading edge of the main by 1/4", and at a 10* cant to provide some extra hold.  Those take all the drama out of riding a twin on your backside.  At your weight you just need to be careful to not overfin the board.  

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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

I know i keep harping on this, but another alternative you might consider is the 2+1 the way that Neal Purchase Jr does them.   If you watch him surf he stands more forward in a closer stance and can still wrap the board around pretty well because how he does the 2+1 cluster (which is different than what other shapers do).    

Vid - here he surfing a couple of 2+1s - the board he's riding and him surfing it show up at the 2:25 mark.  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSEz2SqlxH8

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Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

That's a great little vid you found there.  My stance isn't quite as narrow as his but his little red sled looks really fun. The video shows him surfing that board and then cuts to a shot of some 7'0" dims, but unless he's more than 7ft tall those dims are for a different board.  I had a 7'2" Walden 2+1 Mini Magic for a little while and had few fun sessions on it.  Other than that, I haven't really tried a 2+1 setup.

Same goes for twinzers - no experience with them but it looks interesting.  How does it differ from a quad in terms of performance? 

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Huck's picture
Joined: 12/07/2009

Quote:
Same goes for twinzers - no experience with them but it looks interesting.  How does it differ from a quad in terms of performance?

Archives search term: twinzer

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gdaddy's picture
Joined: 10/31/2008

For his personal boards, NPjr posts 6-0 lengths more/less for his own daily drivers, and longer for his step up boards.  His designs have zero in common with anything Walden does.  If you look around you can sometimes see some examples listed on Mollusk's website, as well as others.  

The thing I came to understand about his designs from watching him surf them is that his shapes are aimed directly at the fin setup and manner in which the board will be surfed. Some other shapers do that too, but not everyone does that.  

  If he was going to shape a thruster that he intended for someone to surf from the tail he'd set that up differently than a board he intended surf from a more forward position.   If he's going to surf the board more from the middle he gets the foil and distribution going that way, too, so the board will more naturally trim for him under his stance.   

Dave Parmenter (Nowtro surfboards) is another shaper you might have some interest in if you look, and he's probably more local to you.   He was one of NPjrs influences along with NPsr (the dad).   These guys are all legit and doing their own thing.    

If you start building your own you'll be able to test some of these ideas out for yourself to see what you do and don't like; what does and doesn't work for what you're trying to do.  That's the whole point of Swaylocks.   You wanna work your own progression.   

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McDing's picture
Joined: 05/22/2004

Fug It!!  I would just go buy a Surftech or  one of those Costco "Wave Storm" boards and call it good.  Don't waste your time or ours.  You're not actually going to shape and glass it anyway??  Right??

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That which can be assorted without evidence was read in an illegal magazine.

thrailkill's picture
Joined: 05/07/2004

McDing wrote:

Fug It!!  I would just go buy a Surftech or  one of those Costco "Wave Storm" boards and call it good.  Don't waste your time or ours.  You're not actually going to shape and glass it anyway??  Right??

     

I concur.

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Bill Thrailkill SHAPER SINCE 1958
Small Axe's picture
Joined: 06/12/2018

Thanks Gdaddy.  I really appreciate your thoughts on this.  It’s interesting to get your take on varying the fin setups to accommodate some of the issues I mentioned at the start of this thread. 

I’ve known about Swaylocks for a long time and have often relied on it to help answer questions I have about board performance and design characteristics. But I’ve never posted here before out of respect for the community it serves.  However, after having three very different conversations with shapers I thought it appropriate to ask members of this community for some input.  Apologies if I intruded.

In my field of work there are artists, craftsmen, and tools.  Artists are visionaries and are passionate about sharing their skills and ideas.  Craftsmen are masters of technique and excel at executing and improving upon the ideas of others.  Tools have no creativity or desire to share what little knowledge they may have.  They might get the job done, but only because someone tells them exactly what is needed of them.  Tools tend to be the most insecure of the bunch and often pride themselves in experience rather than accomplishment.  A 60-year old plunger might be fine at sucking up shit but it's still just a plunger. 

I think the same three categories can probably be said of shapers.  In case, you’re wondering, McDing, you’re clearly a tool (probably a plunger).  To everyone else, thanks for considering my post.  May you find your own progression. 

Peace.

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Bob T's picture
Joined: 03/10/2018

.

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