Friday, January 13, 2006

A Kick in the Nugget

Since I started surfing a couple years ago, I've been intrigued by Geoff McCoy's "Nugget" shaped board, a design that's intended to be the most user friendly of all non-longboards.

No doubt, this is a neo-retro shape; one originally developed in Australia in the 1970s (with his "Lazor Zaps" for Cheyene Horan) and perfected over the last 30 years. But unlike the fish, which has received tons of attention lately as a great alternative to "glass slipper" or potato chip shortboards in subpar surf conditions, the Nugget is considered to be a more versitile shape that can do well in larger, steeper waves.

Geoff McCoy is an eccentric dude, which I also found appealing, sort of a mad scientist Down Under, creating these unconventional waveriding vehicles and supporting them with hippy slogans like "Designs to free your mind." There aren't that many Nuggets in the USA. When I did a search on Google a few years ago, only a few pictures showed up. One of them was a red/blue one that was mentioned on Surfer magazine's message boards. A few others were Aussie imports in yellow. You can buy Nuggets in America through a website called, but the sticker price is fairly astronomical: like $800. You can also pick up a Surftech Nugget a little easier, but that will still cost around $700.

So I did what I always do when obsessing over a rare item online: I added it to my "favorite searches" on eBay. Every time a Nugget would be put up for sale on eBay, I would get an email. As a testiment to the user satisfaction of these boards, I hardly ever got messages telling me one was available secondhand in some remote part of the world.

But then, in November, I got an automated email saying that there was a McCoy board available in Southern California for $350 bucks... if I wanted to "Buy it now." The board looked familiar: It was the same red and blue one I had seen online a year before. I took that as a sign.

This was the catch though--it was shaped by Greg Pautch, a SoCal shaper who is the only licensed shaper of McCoy boards in the USA. Having done my homework, reading nothing but positive reviews of Pautch's work, I immediately made the seller an offer and he took it. I picked up the board around Thanksgiving.

The board is 6'2" tall and around 2.75" thick. The tail is round and wide and the girth of the board is pretty consistent from top to bottom. It looks like a stubby red-white-and-blue cigar.

My first session was in Venice a few days before Thanksgiving. The waves were small but fast--mostly closing out. I had a blast, despite the conditions. One thing I noticed was that I couldn't duckdive it very deep. No problem. Until my second session, that is, back in Oregon.

The waves at Shorty's were pretty big when I took the Nugget out the second time. Again, I couldn't sink the corky stick very deep, causing me to get worked over a few times on the paddle out, but I was still looking forward to testing this board out in some powerful conditions. After all, McCoy's website stated: "When it gets hollow, you'll be laughing."

I caught one wave, midsize, probably around 5 feet, but it died quickly. One thing I noticed was that I was having a really hard time paddling into the waves. I would scratch as hard as possible, but wouldn't have enough speed to start planing before takeoff. As soon as I'd grab my rails to pop up, I'd feel the wave jack up and I'd almost lose all momentum on the lip. Looking down a vertical face, I knew I wouldn't make the drop, and I'd have to pull back or get pitched.

And the waves were getting bigger. Another guy in the lineup on a Channel Islands yelled to his buddy (there were only 5 of us) that he was undergunned. I tried to go right on an eight-foot face, but didn't get in fast enough and went over the falls. Underwater, I felt my leg kick something sharp. I thought it may have been my fin, but didn't have much time to contemplate things because when I emerged, I saw some menacing swells bearing down on me. I paddled hard and made it outside.

Again and again I would try to paddle into big waves, only to get sprayed in the face before attempting to drop.

The day ended when a crusty old dude pointed to the outside and said, "Better start paddling." The biggest wave I've ever had the misfortune of meeting was jacking up and there was no way we'd make it over the back. We both bailed at the same time as a thick, 14-foot curtain fell right on our heads.

I'll never forget the slam, tumble, spin, rinse, repeat of that hold down. I was more than 200 yards away from the shore, but I hit the sandy bottom and dragged along, pinwheeling and ragdolling. My leash coiled around my legs like a kitestring on a spindle, hogtying me. I didn't panic. I was spooked, but it wasn't my worst punishment of the day. But considering how far the turbulance pushed me in, I decided to end it there. I walked up the beach with my tail between my legs.

The old guy who got caught inside with me came up the beach a few minutes later. "Dude, I hit the bottom!" he said. I told him that I did too. He went on to tell my friends and me that in 20 years of surfing big waves in the Northwest, he's never been rocked that hard. The guy, we'll call him Jonas, is a Seaside Point regular. He said that the near two-wave hold down he experienced was worse than anything he been put through before. At least I knew that I could handle a big hit.

When I got back to my house and was showing my friends my new board after dinner, I noticed something on the rail behind the fins. A big ding gouging all the way into the foam. I reached down to my shin and felt a jawbreaker-sized lump. I guess I didn't hit the fin after all!

Sun Kil Moon - "Gray Ice Water"


Diane said...

What are you doing, trying to scare me even more than I am already? PLEASE BE CAREFUL

Candi Gershon said...

That board looks very cool. I hate that feeling of being knocked over by a wave...I've never had it happen on a surfboard, I just remember it happening as a child on the beach. Sorry about the ding.

Gee-Wiz said...

Chum, ol' buddy, ol' pa, -

Looks like we may have something that at least resembles ridable surf coming our way this weekend. Could be a good time to get Slim back in the line-up and see what he learned from the Kiwi's...if we're lucky maybe even grandpa Nascar...

Chum said...

Sounds great! I assume we'll be working around the Steelers'game?

Patch said...

Maybe you should have opted for a McCoy mini-gun in the 7-0 range for those bigger days. Some advice on ducking the board, maybe turtle and let the foam roll over a la longboard style.

Good to see you writing again, lets see more art too.


Music — Arctic Monkeys — From the Ritz to the Rubble

Chum said...

Word up, Patch! Thanks for bearing with my lack of updating. I've pretty much racked the Nugget until the swell dips below 10 feet...

I've got one more post on the subject, though!

Whiffleboy said...

We need more of this stuff, Chum. You've been quiet way too long, brutha.

Good on ya for charging the big stuff.

Anonymous said...

Was wondering if you had any more experience with the Nugget since this story and/or have any additional feelings about it. Thinking about buying one of these or a Walden Compact Disc soon...Surftech in either case.

Lemme know:


Chum said...

I had a great experience with the Nugget this weekend, actually (3/19/06). I took it out in some better conditions - Seaside Cove - and got some amazing rides. Waves were about 5 feet and very consistent. The Nugget allowed me to get into the waves way earlier than even my friend, who was on a fish. My only complaint is my inability to duck dive it very deep, because of how thick it is (and mine is only 6'2"), so keep that in mind when you buy one from Surftech. They only make them in longer lengths, so treat it like a longboard when you paddle out. Time sets and find rips and channels!

Jeff said...

I too have a nugget (surftech 6'6"). I am 200 lbs. In powerful surf, it feels like a funboard. On weak days, however, it feels like my best shortboard. I love it on mushy days and have had people come up after and ask to see what I am riding, because I get every wave I paddle for. I think the rails just have too much foam, but I would like to try a 6'0" on a strong day just to see the difference. And Surftech does carry a 6'0"

Anonymous said...

Chum, sorry to hear it is so hard getting a Nugget in the US. You should visit Hong Kong of all places, where (despite- or perhaps because of) the crappy and inconsistent surf (you may have seen the Hong Kong section in Sipping Jetstreams), there is the largest number of McCoys of all shapes and sizes in the lineups and available second hand! I've met with Geoff in Byron a few times before, he is a great guy, and has an amazing design, good luck on your search!

Anonymous said...

I have the 6'6" surftech. The 6'6" tufflite is an interchange nugget which is more refined and ment for those coming off thin modern short boards. I have excellent ability on potato chips, but got stuck in the eighties, because although the thin anorexic boards nowadays help stay under your feet better, I hardly feel the wave, I catch less waves, and it's not fun anymore. I learned how to skillfully catch waves on a potato chip, late drops, only inches of my rail in the water, airs, chop hop, wrap around cutties, ect ect. I can do it all except the spinning manuevers, I forget to try them. Plus I was bred watching Tom Carrol and Gary Elkerton powersurfing, so I like rail to rail, on the rail, power surfing, style, and gracefull fades and bottom turns because no matter what, with out knowing how to trim and carve and get speed there is no surfing at all. I'm 6'2" and 180 lbs. Since the first moment I got on my nugget I felt really good. Actually, I felt like a grom again which is incredible to me. It felt a little strange the first two rides, but I got the hang of it. This is my take ob the McCoy Nugget. If you have a tufflite, get big enough fins for it. Watch out for authorized shapers of nuggets in California, they probably fake. Ask Geoff McCoy himself on email. He WILL RESPOND QUICKLY AND HAS RESPONDED TO ME EVERYTIME I HAVE A QUESTION. My McCoy has never let me Down, ever. I was even doing ollies and chop hops on it, tail slides, and more. I once, at the beggining, went to do a carve, and I kid you not I was flabberghasted by the turn, because I did more than I intended, I carved super tight, super lightning fast, and kept the drive all the way through the turn, I basically started out doing a semi-verticle top turn and it ended up as a lightning quick, one motion, continous round house cut back into the foam. I couldn't believe it! I was like,"This board is so thick, but it acts like a potato chip through turns, but has much more flow, heaps and heaps more speed, and paddles like nothing ever. At hollow a frames I have actually gotten barrled by accident, I was just trimming. My wave catching ability has gone up to 98% of the waves I go for. I get in early. But check this out, I have been able to catch late drops and waves later better also, I have had countless waves where I paddle once, or I don't paddle but just lean forward and push into it and take off super late, and the board lets you take your time as you are litterally vertically dropping into it. The dome bottom sticks to the wave face, late drops are easier than anything. In larger surf I catch waves even easier and if there's bump in the water, I never feel it. The board always feels like its glassy, it glides and cuts through chop. And as I see it my McCoy board is a mini gun which I feel I could ride Teahopoo or Pipe with. If people are riding those places on long boards than I sure as hell can with my McCoy. As for the man the says he couldn't get waves with the supposed McCoy this is my opinion. Maybe it wasn't a real McCoy, get a board shaped by McCoy himself or get a tufflight, its worth the 800-700 dollars, You might be too heavy or heavy footed for that board, You might seriously be lacking skill style and natural ability as a surfer, you probably need a bigger Nugget, or some the above, none of the above , or all of the above.
The board does it all. It stays under your feet in critical manuevers and thick lips, catching waves with it is child's play, It has lots of down the line speed on long walled waves(I have read blogs of people saying it doesn't work on point break waves, that's B.S.) in fact the board flies, it has lift more than a concaved board, since the loaded dome has so much surface area, it's super neutral and stable and adjusts to the wave face automatically as the wave changes shape, You don't have to be even moderately strong to turn it, because it turns on a dime because the bottom is rolled, hence rail to rail transitions are easy, if you have the skill you can tail slide it, do airs, chuck the tail out the back, do quick tight snapping turns, long drawn out bottom turns and carves, throw buckets of spray, and it will NEVER EVER EVER spin out on bottom turns or any turns, unless you like to surf it with out fins, especially off the bottom turn on a powerful wave, just wait, drop down and dig it and look at the lip and you will have the bottom turn of your life and with so much speed of the top you can do a "Dane Reynolds" reentry if you can and wish. When I ride my Nugget I think in my mind and the board just does the work of negotiating riding the wave, I just have to add manuevers. People rave about the lift from concaves and the speed. One bigger day I put the two to the test and compared. The concave feels faster because you can feel the turbulence much more due to the board being harder to turn, but narrow boards 18.5"-19.5" and rocker make it seem easier to turn. But it didn't make the sections very well, and it was toilsome to paddle it and catch waves. It wasn't fun. The McCoy had me into every wave and I had super long walled up powerful fast waves that I made. With the nugget you can keep a high line easier too, and I think that's another point. When you ride one, stand up look relax and don't try to go the bottom too quickly, stand there and the board(I promise) will automatically put you in the pocket. Like I said start out with the board when you first get it by cruising and feeling it out, you will find yourself automatically ripping. I get barrelled by just crouching, trimming. The bottom of it is a tube magnet, and it's super stable and controllable in the barrel. It's like riding the old single fins. Very stable in the barrel. About duck diving. If your nugget is not huge for your mass then it takes practice and technique and if you learn it well, you punch through waves easier because the added floatation shoots you out the back faster. Not even the pro-potato chip surfers duck dive on every wave. just go under and let the leash do it's work on biggies and swim under. The paddle ease more than makes up for any adjustments to duckdiving. Watch a 1970's surf flick, they surfed. I have never pearled even on late takeoffs on the Nugget because half of the nose is super rockered and he doesn't "beak" the boards like they did back in the eighties and seventies. I don't think he ever did that even in the seventies because footage of Tony Blair winning at Pipe shows the same tip concept. He tapers the nose up from the bottom, not down from the deck. So when you look at the nose rocker at the tip its heavier than a 1994 potato chip because the tip is thick and if you look at the line of the bottom of the board there and ignore the thickness and deck you see lots of rocker on the nose. The board has so many subtleties that it takes years of just looking at it to scratch the surface of what MCCOY does. Modern WCT competion boards are not meant for fun, but for exhibition of ridiculously technical surfing, winning contests, and gymnastics. Those non pros that do have fun on them are surfing all the time, or training, super super fit, or young, or tiny. I think we all know that most(not all) pro surfers are like horse jockys or if they are tall they are thin or if they are big like Poncho they ride 2 and 3/4 inches thick and 19.5 plus wide boards(which the surf media doesn't mention often) and they kill themselves training and straining in small waves to prepare. I have seen a few pros and they are short and lean. They exagerate on websites and magazines that state thier hieghts, come on! Ive seen the dudes. And when you watch a contest live they spend a lot, I mean a lot of time scratching and paddling for waves and not penetrating into the drop, and having waves pass them by. But those aren't shown on the surf videos. And they blow it all the time, especially pearling, because when they come off the top turn there is not enough foam in the nose and it goes under. I am happy to see that WCT surfers in 2007 have more volume in their boards than in 1994 when crappy VHS produced videos filled with punk rock noise and one manuever waves and not only unrealistic expectations but misleading expectation on good surfing were prevelent. The only "New School gut to win World titles was Kelly" He's not the biggest guy in the world, although he is one of the best of all time. But people go and buy boards on his board measurements and they are not him nor have they made that constant transition from eighties to ninetees progressivley getting thinner and thinner boards. I remmember the first time I saw a round house cut back again was in the late 90's, I was stoked. Because thru the 90's it was super fast snap half turns. Big deal, the board does that on its own, but their is no maturity and grace to it unless you do a speed turn and need to burn off speed. Also, pro surfers tend to be superstitious and stubborn on change and what others ride compared to what they ride. It took Clark foam to shut down for WCT surfers to finally ride unconventional boards, i.e. Fire wire. McCoy can make world champs. But sadly the surf industry wants most people to grovel and struggle because that keeps people coming to buy new equipment frequently to find a magic board and to ride like the pros and to look for equipment to help them surf better, money money money. Lastly, we started surfing because we wanted to have fun and we love waves and being close to them via wave sliding, maybe some started to be or look cool, go along with the crowd, or impress people. Those aren't real surfers no matter how good they might be. You have to love surfing. It's easier to love surfing when you have fun and McCoys have made it as fun or more than when I was a grom. You really have to ride one to believe it. And trust me, I'm no kook. I have had kooks write me off because I Don't sport expensive surfwear all over my body and I wore my hair different and didn't talk like a surfer should. But I blew their minds when we first surfed on a 6'2" thruster(before I got my Nugget). I am only saying that to give my blog some credibility, foregive my inmodesty. Don't write off The Nugget. It's super simple looking yet simply, geniously, and deceptively subtle and complex. It's like the waves of the ocean shaped this board through the hands of Geoff McCoy. Have fun, be stoked!!!

Anonymous said...

Hey guys, thought I would drop a line. I got my Nugget from Greg Pautch after doing research for about a year and checking out Geoff site. I was bummed to get an email from him saying it was not a real nugget. No worries though, my nugget has been the best board and worked in every situation I have put it through. I have ridden it in points in Cabo to everyday salt creek. When i first got it, back in 2004, no one knew what it was and everyone asked me about my board. Nowadays people are talking about em and I am ready to get into a 6'0 or possibly smaller one. Anyway, I dont know why everyone doesnt ride these things, I have been surfing since the 80's and my friends are still messing with the potato boards, I admit I picked up a Ksmall 6"0 and rode that when my weight came down, but I am back on the Mccoy! Anyone who says these baords are weak, have never ridden one and I hope they never do! These boards are meant for people who have open minds and want to have tons of fun. Anyone know where they have these instock in southern Ca? cool blogs!

dansout2c said...

How about an update on the Nugget? I'm thinking of getting one soon and would love to hear your opinion after having had the board for awhile.


Anonymous said...

I bought my 6'6" Surftech Nugget (yellow,light blue,white) while living in Maui.

It is the most versitile shortboard I have ever ridden. I'm 6'0 225lbs and I rode this board on small 1-2 ft days at Launiupoko and Olowalu, and bigger days at Rusty Pipes/Freight Trains.

I surfed this board a ton at Hookipa.

This board paddles like it's a foot longer than it is. In small surf I can catch waves that guys on other shortboards can't, and then I can pump the board and still do some moves on tiny little kneebiters.

When I got this board into 6-8ft waves is really when it shows off. While it isn't as easy to drop in on steep waves as some of my other shortboards I owned (due to it's volume it doesn't "pierce" the wave as well on really steep breaks), but let me tell you - once you are into a wave this thing is FAST! Super fast and it allows you to pull some really hard fast turns and when you get to the top you can really throw some spray.

I haven't ridden any other shortboard that inspires this much confidence in your surfing.

As a big dude I always imagine that for a 5'10 guys who weighs 175 lbs this board must be even more insanely good than it is for me.