Tuesday, November 14, 2006

What's a Widowmaker?



After I posted about ordering my new surfboard from Mandala, there was quite a bit of commentary about the merits of Manny and his alternative shapes. But then the comment flow died, as all blog chatter does when the topic gets stale. A few days ago, though, Warmjet (my favorite bonzer/music afficionado) chimed in about the 2+1 setup and how it resembles a board known as The Widowmaker:

"Parmenter makes a 2+1 called the 'Widowmaker' that 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."

I found the above photo of Purchase Jr. on Swaylocks and quickly got sucked into the vortex of surboard design, turning up picture after picture of various 2+1 widowmakers:






I read a comment by a famed shaper on Swaylocks who swore by the widowmaker design, reaffirming the characteristics that Manny described to me when he sold me on the shape:

"The yellow board in the photo is sporting one of the two Tri Fin setups we used at Surf Systems in 1971. We used the PressLock removable, injection molded fins, (invented by me, I might add.) as the sides. We used the setup on semi guns, as well as small wave fun boards. It opened up the upper 25% of the wave to more agressive maneuvers, without loss of control, or spinouts. Also made it easier to turn in, and drive out of, the pitching lip of a wave."
Bill Thrailkill
Shaper since 1958


And again:


"The above photo is of my personal board, summer of '71. With the very wide tail, I had an easy time catching any wave I chose to try for. The Tri-Fins (as we called them then) enabled the same board that I could ride 2' beach surf with on one day, to be ridden the next day in 12' reef breaks, with the same setup. And not just survival riding, but ripping, going anywhere on the wave face that I would choose to go. If I were to build a similar board today, I would increase the board width to 22'', or evev 23'', and use the close set twin fin setup I've shown you before. I'd also tweek the rails, softer, yet with a hard, tucked under, release edge. But I digress. The above board is one of many that I regret ever gitting rid of. Sometimes you don't know just how good a board is until you move on to something else. It's interesting that a new generation of surfers are rediscovering some of the earlier design paths."
Bill Thrailkill
Shaper since 1958



Kye Fitzgerald (Terry's Son), riding an original Drifter in a recent WQS event.


Then I looked at some new photos of Manny's latest 2+1 designs and I was pleasantly surprised:




So the next thing I'm going to do is rent or buy Glass Love to see what the movie says about these boards. Being a huge fan of Litmus, I'm actually scratching my head as to why I haven't seen the film. The next thing, of course, would be to talk to Manny about my forthcoming 2+1. I know he's doing things differently than Parmenter, Purchase, Thrailkill, et al just by looking at the predominantly shorter lengths of his boards and the fluted wings he's incorporating.

This is gonna be so cool...

Rogue Wave - California

18 comments:

Whiffleboy said...

Wow. I feel like I just went through a college-level lecture on board design and dynamics. Me gots lots to learn.

rob70 said...

Have to disagree with Warm, who is rad. Manny has refined lots of different shapes (big difference from reproduces), making them work better and look much better. :D

foul pete said...

Glass Love is well worth buying. Purchase Jnr ar Kirra is phenomenal. Thanks for that post as I have been trying to find info on Paramenter's boards for awhile. I was thinking of getting a gunnier single fin at some point but a WidowMaker type design might be a bit more versatile.

pushingtide said...

GREAT write up Sissy. I am putting a set-up like that on my work-in-progress. Not because of anything more than just wanting to switch from a single, a single plus two small fins, and to be able to throw in two keels for the fish feel that I know I will crave if I don’t have it.

What does the 2 +1 setup do if you have a fishy tail? Does it work better with a diamond or round which is how I have seen most, if not all, set up.

Keep on keepin’ on thinking about design. It never gets dull and you always are learnin’ and feelin’ something exciting.

Chum said...

The craziest part is that I was going to purchase a used Parmenter "Occster" based on Occy's old '80s boards, but sold a painting and changed gears, deciding to buy the Manny 2+1. Little did I know that the 2+1 design actually harkens back to another Parmenter shape... The Widowmaker... What a trip!

Kirk said...

Chum, I love them- I've ridden a few and have a Matt Moore one right now, which I rode in Oregon on a trip up north and it worked great there- they like a wave with a bit of push and there's plenty of those in your parts. Check Kidman's site as there's a couple of nice Neil Purchase Snr. ones there, and a couple of good shots of the Swift ones on 70percent under the 'Festivus Photos' post. The Manny one looks real nice- the ones I've ridden are more gunny (6'6" to 7'6" range) but on the smaller stubbier board I think the set-up will be great.

Lawless said...

I was gonna say the same thing as Foul Pete, the Neil Purchase Jr. stuff on Glass Love is worth owning the video. I just watched Litmus again last night, and much prefer Glass Love.

Slim said...

The things we do when the surf hasn't been clean for weeks.....

yes. purchase jr. kirra. back side tube ride dropping back foot off front rail to stall. yes. NZ waves too.

Oakley said...

Chum,
I'm a writer here in Portland working on a piece about the clothing company Nau and would like to talk to you about their website and brand if you have a minute.
I'm at oakley at baymoon dot com
Thanks,
Oakley

Diane said...

I am not that fond of the name of that board.

totor said...

"Glass love" doesn't "say" much about the widowmaker board; just images of Neal Purchase Jr surfing it, with great inspiration....

totor said...

I surfed with this borrowed board on thursday:
http://forum.surfermag.com/photopost/data/501/WM2.jpg
http://forum.surfermag.com/photopost/data/501/WM1.jpg
I don't know if you consider it a "widowmaker", but the fin setup is the same...
Great board, especially in the wave conditions we had: 5 feet glassy, quite hollow and powerful, only the three of us out...
The board really surfs a "vintage" way: much inertia, very fast, easy paddle and take off...
It's a pity I already have 5 boards...

Chum said...

I should have updated this post a while ago, but around the holidays I visited Manny Caro at Mollusk and talked to him more about the 2+1. He wanted to make sure I was aware of the fact that his board isn't a "Widowmaker" (with all due respect to Parmenter et al).

The fishier template and subtleties of contours passed on through Pavel and refined/built upon (not copied) by Manny himself have resulted in a completely unique ride.

Thanks Manny. And thanks for lurking on the blog!

stealthstyle said...

Im looking for a step up board for indo. Am taking a banks mkii fish which i surf in clean wally waves up to 5-6feet(backs). Was thinking of getting a 6'6 pintail thruster...But maybe i should get a widow maker instead?
How can i get in contact with parmenter? I hear neal purchase jnr is making boards now too. I have no idea what works in these boards as far as tail shape etc.

Would they be a better step up from a fish than a thruster?
Just due to the different style of surfing i do.
more down the line and cruisey, rather than vertical.

benjo74 said...

Ive just had a 6'0 board made. Round tail, mal fin config. goes off. great in the pocket and tube. Live sunny coast qld oz. See thomassurfboards. any body to reflect on similar design. Fresh inspiration. woohoo

benjo74 said...

Its been a design ive been working on for a few years and watched glass love, believe and sprout. I recon my designs the best. 6'0 x 19 1/4 x 2 3/8. round tail old school nose. Flat bottom slight v. serious tube time. ben in oz

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