Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Baby, I'm Board: The Banana


I found "The Banana" at Gorge Performance surf shop's annual swap meet in 2004. This is technically the third surfboard I've ever purchased (I bought two in the '80s), but probably the most important in my development as a surfer. This is the board that got me back into surfing again after more than 15 years as a land-lover.

I bought it from a crusty dude in a pickup truck who was asking $100. I talked him down to $80 (plus I got him to throw in an old windsurfing board bag), and also snagged a wetsuit, leash, and booties for another $50. So if we're doing the math, that's $130 for the whole kit! The board seems to be made of molded plastic or heavy duty epoxy. It must be about 3" thick and 8' tall with a pintail, molded-on fins, a leash loop, and a weird black plug that bubbles after a surf. It has a perfectly flat bottom and weighs about 10 pounds.


To look at this boat, you might think it was a prop for a really cheap beer commercial or '80s B-movie. Truthfully, I was a little doubtful that it would even float the first time I lugged it down to the beach. But as I paddled into my first wave (a two-foot left), I knew it was perfect. It really hauled ass! It was also as stable as a dock when I stood up the first time. Yes, it was as stiff as train on rusty tracks, but if you paddled into waves at an angle, it would just hold a perfect line and virtually stick in the pocket for the duration of the ride.


In the immortal words of Poison, "Ev'ry rose has its thorn," and my phallic yellow thruster has some particularly sharp ones. After deeming this the mother of all beginner boards, I have lent it to many a novice hoping that it would inspire them to pursue surfing with the same vigor as I. On my wife's first outing with it (I had to lug it down to the water for her) she bashed her head so hard that beachcombers turned their attention seaward in hopes of seeing a breeching whale. A few weeks later, the next door neighbor kid fell on a fin, slashing his ankle so bad that I had to sacrifice a sock to stop the bleeding. And finally, our friend Bernard took it on a week-long surf trip that was supposed to get him hooked on the sport. Unfortunately, during his first surf of the week in Sandy Eggo, the razor sharp skeg got hooked on his cheek, requiring more than a dozen stitches. He's still sorting out the emergency room bills.

Perhaps the Banana is "a little too much gun" to be surfed in waist-deep waters. It's tough to escape a torpedo if you can't dive down. Maybe the six-foot leash I bought on the cheap isn't allowing an escape route either... Who knows? But one thing for certain: this is a board I'll keep for life, even if I end up using it as the canvas for a future painting ala Thomas Campbell or Joel Tudor.

Stay tuned!

Music: Polyphonic Spree - "Hold Me Now"

8 comments:

Candi said...

That was a great read. I loved that "love story".

Chum said...

Glad you liked it! More to come... I have a lotta love to give.

shitbird said...

I hope this isn't some sort of attemt to prove to me that you do indeed own a long board.....cuz man, that mutant yellow bastard isn't even in the surfboard family......let alone a longboard......

crustyripper said...

Barbara Lewis? My first purchased board was an 8 foot or so longboard shaped thruster with no label or indication of who shaped it. It was bright green with a 4 inch wide yellow stripe right down the middle, but the outlines of the stripe were squiggly. It rode pretty well but the funny thing was that everyone would comment on how great it looked. I progressed and decided I needed a "real" board, and besides the deck was delaminating pretty badly. I don't remember if I sold it to someone or left it on consignment, but in hindsight I should have kept it for posterity.

RuggerJay said...

I think Laird rode that board in the movie "North Shore".

Chum said...

Barbara Lewis... Is that what you named your first stick? Yeah, I had somebody ask me if it was a "gun" because of the pintail, but with its rounded rails I have a feeling even Laird wouldn't be able to keep it straight at Pipe. Memo to self: I gotta rent "North Shore" again!

Connie said...

I so love your use of metaphors. Truly an entertaining read. You must have so much fun when you create these blogs....all the creative juices flowing into words. And, you take great pics, too!
Please take care of May and let her know we love her. I was so concerned to read her last entry. Love you guys!

ras said...

man that's a really ugly board.