Monday, October 16, 2006

The Seed for a Surfboard

When I got my last board, a 5'8" quad, it was a real awakening for me. For the first time, I was riding a surfboard that was the right size for my height, weight and the waves in Oregon. The feeling of speed and manueverability that came along with my first ride was just as stoke-inducing as the first time I rode a board down the line.

A light went on in my mind.

I quickly considered liquidating my old 7'0" speed egg and 6'6" hybrid, and replacing both with a smaller board that could handle waves that the quad might not be able to ride as effectively. My first instinct was to buy a "traditional" thruster, somewhere around 6'0", because it seemed like the most essential board of the last 30 years. Everybody has owned a tri-fin, and I thought maybe I should have one as well, for those bigger days or for pushing my surfing in a more vertical direction.

I tried a couple rental boards (a 6'0 JC Stingray and a 5'10 Olea swallowtail) and was immediately unimpressed by the lack of speed and paddling power the boards provided. So instead of plucking a Merrick off the racks or pulling the trigger on a used Parmenter (which was an awsome deal, Porky), I waited, scouring the Surfer Magazine message boards for more information on alternative waveriding vehicles. The Surfer Forum has become a haven for bonzer, quad, fish, twinzer, and single fin enthusiasts, who swear that surfers have been programmed by the surf media to ride what pros ride instead of what rides best for one's skill level. (Ironic that Surfer has perpetuates that paradigm).

Then, I saw a used 6'2" Jobson twinzer pintail offered for sale in the classified section of the same message board. It was the personal surfboard of Manuel Caro, the shaper/artist behind Mandala surfboards. It seemed like the perfect combination of performance board and alternative shape, so I gave him a call.

When Manny picked up the phone, I expected the board to be sold. If the board wasn't already sold, I expected him to be happy that I was taking it off his hands. But, to my surprise, Manny suggested that this wasn't the board I was looking for. He said that even at his size (5'5" and 150), the board was pretty difficult to get into waves. Also, the twinzer setup wasn't going to be significantly easier to get vertical.

He said he was developing a surfboard for people just like me, who wanted to step up from fish, but also liked to get into waves earlier and easier. It was also a board that would be snappier off the top, but also easier to get back in the pocket.

The board was a winged pintail with a 2+1 setup.

I told him that I would call him back after giving it some thought, and in the meantime he sent me pictures of his own personal 2+1. They are the pictures of the board in the shaping room in this post. On Sunday, I called him back and placed my order.

Manny and I talked for over an hour, not only about my surfboard (which will be 5'11" x 20.5" X 2 5/8"), but also about how he got started shaping, why surfboards should be beautiful, how he met Toby Pavel, and parallels between shaping and painting. At the end of the conversation, he ensured me that my decision not to get a "potato chip" surfboard was the right one:

"When you're catching waves way outside of your friends on their traditional tri-fins and spraying them from 50 feet away, you'll know why this board was the right choice."

Broken Social Scene - Shorlines


Anonymous said...

Sweet! Enjoy that.

foul pete said...

I surfed a Mandala board a few years back, before he had established his current rep. Beautiful thing. You'll have a stunning board for sure. Only, I'd make sure you always have a good solid thruster in your quiver also.

Singles, twins, quads etc are super fun and functional in the right surf but its all training for the right day, when everything comes together and your 6' something thruster is ready to riiippppp..... just an opinion.

Chum said...

Interesting point. There may be a day in the future that I'll need a small thruster in my quiver, but my thinking is that since I haven't actually experienced that day yet, I'd rather have a board that comes alive in most conditions (waist to double overhead).

I want the same awakening to happen on this board as I did on my quad.

You must've ridden one of Manny's first boards, since he only started shaping seriously about 3 years ago.

clayfin said...

"The feeling of speed and manueverability that came along with my first ride was just as stoke-inducing as the first time I rode a board down the line.

A light went on in my mind."

Exactly how I felt this morning.

All the boards I've seen Manny post looked very nice. It seems equal consideration is given to presentation as well as function.

Anonymous said...

sick new ride. although having a mini-gun for those bigger long period swells in Oregon comes in handy. you won't use it often, but having 6'8" to 7'2" pin with a thruster set up will keep your knees from knocking when the peak is threatening your life from a couple of feet over you noggin. diversity is the key to life innit.

Patch said...

Stoked for you on the new purchase. The key to finding the right board is discussing your options with a knowledgeable shaper and now you know.

Diane said...

Congratulations! Sounds like you really researched this purchase. I am happy for you.

Porky said...

You blew it, man. While repairing a ding that I never told you about, I discovered the cause of the significant extra weight the board was carrying (which I also never told you about). Someone — the glasser? — had cut a 4-by-4-inch chamber into the blank and crammed about 3 kilos of “Bolivian marching powder” in there. Must have forgotten to unload it. I’m sitting on a pile here. So unless your Manny has a rock glassed onto the deck ...

Oranger - Mike Love, Not War

Chum said...

Shee-it, Porky! I think it must've been the shaper's stash. That would explain his mood swings and overuse of metaphors.

Totor said...

"Diversity is the key to life"
I do agree with that; I own 6 boards at the moment, from 6' modern fish to 9' old school log...

pushingtide said...

Stoked Sissy!

Can't wait to start shapin' my #2.

Nothing better than riding on one of yer own.

Porky said...

Hmmm. I’d been wondering how he ramped up production from one board a day to 65 — most of them stand-up-paddle boards.

I have it from an insider that DP’s been so prolific of late that Surfer magazine is coming out with a second Big Issue 2006 to accommodate all of his prose. It’s set to be 4,000 pages. Word has it that Dave’s metaphors will take up as much space as all of the Hurley, ... lost and DC Shoes ads combined.

Richard said...

Enjoyed the post - I have had a thruster / quad dilemma for a short time but my use is compounded in that it is for kitesurfing. Orgered a new quad from DC boardz in florida - yet to make it too Scotland but will blog on when received. my blog lists the reasons

Good to see that kiting in waves has a stronger surf crossover even if we have different problems.

warm jet said...

Parmenter makes a 2+1 called the 'Widowmaker' than looks great. ( See the Andrew Kidman movie 'Glass Love')
Now the 'Swift' movement has a real nice one from Neil Purchase Jr.
Manny seems like a good shaper with a artistic sense about him, yet he seems to be on the reproducing end of design and not so much on discovery.
Eventhough Fitz is the man for the 2+1's beginning, I'd go Parmenter but I certainly want to wish you good times on the Manny.

Richard said...

I have my quad from Florida now - yet to to use it for surfing only without the straps but so far in surf with straps kiting it has been outstanding. Just changed the straps as it was nose high (which was fine for the 30 knot conditions with a kite)
My blogspot address is

Quads for kiting make so much more sense than thrusters. said...

This cannot really work, I feel so.