Tuesday, September 04, 2007

((((((((((HULLABALOO))))))))))


At long last, I had the chance to meet the legendary Festus Porkmeyer last Sunday in a little beach town nestled on the CA/OR border. He's a writer, beard-grower, and wheelbarrow specialist recently transplanted from San Diego to McKinleyville. I pledged to buy a Parmenter-shaped "Occster" surfboard from him nearly a year ago, and finally made good on the purchase.

But more on the Occster later.

Porky packed (along with his lovely wife and child) a nice stack of wave riding objects for my road-weary crew to test out in those southern waters: namely a Pavel Speed Dialer, a Pavel log, a surf mat, and a Liddle Hull. The waves were only waist high at best, and I soon found myself trying out the Hull.

I had read an article on the Hull a couple years before and remembered being intrigued by the shape. Porky swapped the the board with me in the water and just said: "Your first wave will be interesting," or something to that effect. Knowing that Hulls are supposed to be surfed closer to the middle of the board, I figured that I'd have very little problem getting used to this one. I've always ridden off my front foot, with my back foot in front of my fins on traditional shortboards.

So when a little left came my way and I paddled in and hopped to my feet, I was pretty surprised at the relative instability of the craft. I leaned to turn down the line and the board just kept rolling downward until I fell flat on my face. Splat. My second wave, backside, was even worse.

But, at Porky's insistance, I stuck with it. When another, larger left came my way I paddled in and jumped up a little quicker than my previous attempts, gently angling down the line and correcting slightly when the board seemed to lose stability. As soon as I realized that I'd made the turn and was slotted in trim, I did very little else but crouch low and "feel" the wave.

From my limited experience that day, the Hull actually felt more "in tune" with the waves than other boards I've ridden. It felt like the curved bottom and tapered rails conformed to the wave's concaved face when riding in trim in the same way that rocker fits into the curve of the wave when descending from top to bottom. As a rider, I felt more sensitive to the nuances of the little peelers that I slid along the faces of. Just by gently tweaking my ankles, I could climb to the top or drop to the flats. It almost felt like I was pumping by simply moving from rail to rail. It was all very subtle.

Riding several long lefts in a row, I found myself wishing that the waves were bigger and more consistent so that I could really feel how the wafer-thin fin flexes on turns. I wanted more.

Some of you who know me will say that I'm like Mikey from the Life Cereal commercials when it comes to surfboards: I'll try anything, and usually like it. But the Hull had me genuinely intrigued because it simplified my goals on the waves I was riding. I was completely focused on the act of plugging the 7'0 stick into trim and then just tripping on the feeling.

When I got back to the blogosphere after the long weekend, I noticed that the Cabinessence blog featured a long excerpt from the Liddle website where Greg Liddle addressed surfers who were interested in Hulls after the publicity from the TSJ article. I was surprised at how many of the observations I had made in one session with the board were exactly what he intended by building them:

"...These boards are not for the onlooker. It is not meant to be a visual experience, it is for the "feel" of these boards. Not that visual observation of the ride cannot be enjoyed. To me it is quite beautiful the way they "fit" to the wave and become part of it."

For me, riding the Hull was one of the most vivid surf experiences I've had. By that, I mean that I can remember little nuances of every wave I caught on the board. I felt attuned to almost every ripple on the surface. But, then again, I never did get a chance to try out the surf mat...

Marianne Faithfull - As Tears Go By (Hullabaloo London 1965)

28 comments:

jb said...

Rad post, Chum. I enjoyed your account of the hull experience.

Toddy said...

Interesting.

Nash said...

how about a pic of the occster?

Slim said...

Well this just sounds like a HULL bunch of bs!! Bahahahaha!

Enjoy that new thruster. i'm picking one up today as well.

Chum said...

Thanks. If you want to see the Occster, check the Festus Porkmeyer link in the post. It was part of his blowout bonanza. It looks just the way you'd imagine: White, sanded, three fins, rocker, pointy nose.

Now, stop hijacking my good vibes on the Hull with your banal tri-fin talk. I'll give you the full disclosure when I ride that sucka!

Chum said...

Oh, and make sure you read all of Porky's posts in that thread I linked to... Not only are they funny, but Slim even gets a shout-out in there!

Foulweather... said...

The Occster, now that looks a real surfboard.

Foulweather... said...

Dude, Porkey said you 'sissied out' from purchasing the Occster?

Kirk said...

Porky is funny and Crescent City is a great litttle town. I surfed my Parmenter inspired Matt Moore Widowmaker there last summer which makes for some of that weird coincidence shit. Stop bllogging so well, I waste too much time reading this stuff.

Chum said...

I basically sissied out when I bought the Manny board - long story - then he dropped the price and enough time had passed between board purchases that I could justify squeezing another one into my basement.

Kirk, that 2+1 talk takes things full circle, now doesn't it?

But why are we still talking about Parmenter here? This blog shrine is in celebration of "hulling ass"!

Doc said...

Slippery Hulls Sliding...

Surfed 'em as a kid...

Not since...

It's only been 30 years...

So maybe I'm ready.

Festus Porkmeyer said...

Hi, wigglers.

Thanks for making the long haul to meet us. The family had a great time. It was San Diego on the North Coast — well, south to you — for a day: longboards; surfers in shorts; crowds, relatively speaking, on the beach and in the water; kids learning; 70-year-olds gliding; sun umbrellas; sunscreen; swimsuits; the shirtless, flexing Macho Man rolling logs in the shorebreak; freestyle wheelbarrowing; gnomes playing cellos on hypodermic needles with petrified bats for bows; rednecks swishing barfmops around the dirt parking lot; guacamole sculpture; etc. Paradise, in other words. And how warm was that water?

Good shooting on that screwy board, Chum. Of all the devices surfing’s wise elders have cited as must-haves, this one has most lived up to the impossible hype. I’ve read everything I can find on them stubbies and still don’t understand how a board with the belly hanging down like that can travel faster and more efficiently than them flat-bottomed ones or them ones with the inverted bottoms. But, sure as shit, that’s the way it goes. That said, after spinning out on my first two waves, I was happy to swap out for the quad fish. Ha. Then, every time I looked up from rescuing our toddler from the logs in the shorebreak, there you were, slotted in perfect trim, clearing those hopeless, long-ass sections.

Oh. Sorry for the drop-ins, guys. Each of the four decent waves I caught had an Oregonian on it.

Did you guys surf the high-tide mush?

Care for a followup report?

The swell picked up Monday. After checking a few promising setups that morning (and spotting an unidentified finned object at one of them — and no other surfers, of course) I settled on the place OS was so keen to check Sunday. It was crackin’ pretty good, sucking up all the swell and coverting it into a few overhead, open-ocean peaks, along with an equal share of violent closeouts. Good conditions to test drive your new three-fin, I’d think.

Inspired by the day before, I skipped the hood. The instant brain freeze nearly split my head apart. Christ. The dynamics around here. And the sea life was going bonkers: pelicans and gulls buzzing the lineup, seals popping up all over and a huge humpback breaching outside. A guy throwing net from shore (for what? smelt?) turned away from the ocean for just a second — long enough to get rolled in the shorebreak and trashed around before he was able to right himself in a shallow spot and stagger back to shore. I don’t think he could fuckin’ swim. And he was parked right in front of a sign detailing how four people had drowned at that very spot since 2004.

A rising tide added a new challenge to the mix of moving water: backwash. It felt so good to get pitched after such a quiet summer. Overall, it was an exercise in ... exercise.

Went back the next day. It was smaller but fun with plenty of grunt. I tried to always keep two guys between me and the Shark Park, as they refer to it here. A good three-day run of surf. Unemployed life is great. But, sadly, it may be coming to an end. I’m partnering with my biologist buddy, the one who’s been trying to tag that lardass whitey that’s been lurking off Trinidad. Mountain Dew Extreme!, X-Games and other action-sports marketers are going to fork over a wad of cash if we slap their ads all over that fat fucker’s dorsal fin.

But back to hulls ...

Dub said...

What the hull you guys buy a lot of boards! Esp for vals : ) 3 board quive for me these days.

Pork that quad looks oh so very sweet. Lovin the double winged tail. Shaper? Shape?

And yes Monday was funday. Lots O waves with just a few friends and much sea life as well.

Chum said...

Dub,

I'll field that question... It's my future 5'9 Pavel Speed Dailer. It should be in my quiv somewhere in the next 3-5 years.

Porkiness,

Nice. Rub it in a little. You get to surf all the time and I just sit around writing detailed accounts of every wave I've ever ridden.

Good luck getting the "Do the Dew" lams on whiteys dorsal. Remember: punch nose or gouge eyes.

Festus Porkmeyer said...

Hi, Dub.

As Chum mentioned, his future beater is a 5’9” Rich Pavel quad fish, aka Speeddialer. It has been my go-to board for nearly three years, as its replacement has been, um, slow to materialize. At this point I’m just trying to keep it alive, rehabbing the deck every couple months. I love it. After 10 years of exclusively riding backyard 6’3” thrusters, I began experimenting with all sorts of weird hybrids, starting with a Parmenter Stubb Vector, then, six or seven years later, stumbling upon the modernized Pavel quad. For me, an ‘80s thruster child, the quad combined the best of all worlds. The forward volume and wide point allow the rider to lean on the front foot for instant acceleration, eliminating the need to hop and wiggle, while turns off the tail need not be nursed as they might with straight twin keels. Also, the Speeddialer rails are really foiled out, which seems to allow scrawny no-talents like me to actually sink them every once in a while.

All that said, it must be amusing for veterans like Doc to watch us gapers “discover” these designs 35 years later.

I live about a mile from the beach, which feels inland since I typically try to stay within a couple blocks. That’s how I ended up with so many boards.
Living near the coast in North San Diego County, I hated driving to surf — or anywhere else. So I bought up a bunch of boards and other strange devices in an effort to adapt to whatever waves were going out front — or at least within biking distance. But it’s a little different in Humboldt, where surfers routinely drive hours searching for a ridable wave. Sound familiar? Ha.

Mad props, or whatever the kids these days say, to the committed Portlanders who make it to the coast regularly. And especially to Chum for the blog and his who-cares-who’s-watching attitude in the water. It was fun watching him stick it out with that Liddle, eventually coaxing some of its nuances. He’s a natural-born surfer. I’m jealous.

Enough porkjacking ...

FP

Zack said...
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Zack said...
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Festus Porkmeyer said...

Nice photos, Zack. Sure makes a person pine for SLO County. Is your board an Andrieni? I’ve heard his work well in a range of conditions. Ever surf yours at The Reef? If so, how’d that go? ;^)

Nice explanation, too, although it still freaks my beans trying to grasp how the craft that must displace water can travel faster than one without that obstacle. But, sure as shit ...

Zack said...
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Daniel said...

Great post Chum.
Seems everyone is talkin' hulls these days (I caught this little blurb over at the hideout and thought you might enjoy it): http://patchies-hideout.blogspot.com/2007/09/just-do-it-with-da-cat.html
Aloha.

festus porkmeyer said...

Damn, Zack, that shit’s not for amateurs. I was expecting you to mention St. Anne’s, Abs, Molera or maybe The Ranch, as I typically take mine out in easier, more predictable waves. The Finelines must be versatile.
I’ve had the most success at points; long, mellow reef waves; and extremely well-behaved beachbreaks — like even Crusty Shitty on the right day at the right tide. Unfortunately, these are the places where people tend to bunch up.

If it were up to the hull, we’d probably move to Santa Barbara.

One of my favorite sensations has been taking off as deep as possible, leaning on that flex fin for a slingshot down the line, then pulling up right next to the crumbling whitewater and camping out in the trough until the blue water reappears. It’s unbelievable the sections you can clear. Before I got the Liddle, I’d never had much use for that lower part of the wave.

And there’s nothing better than hitting a cutback just right, where, with the rail engaged, you actually pick up speed during the arc back to the soup. Can’t figure out the physics on that one either. Of course, 10 face- or buttplants lead up to every cutback that works out. Or else the intended figure eight comes out more like a question mark.

Yes, tubes are possible — for superhero surfers especially:
http://www.liddlesurfboards.com/mrmalloy.html
http://www.liddlesurfboards.com/moremalloy.html

Neat article and footage:
http://www.allaboutsurf.com/articles/sixfeet

Modern footage:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M2Jnuv7L7co

And, Zack, here’s a crusty old link to some, um, very nonprofessional “writing” that might be of some interest, since you’re probably familiar with the setting and cast:
http://forum.surfermag.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=67086&page=0&fpart=1&vc=1

FP

Chum said...

Uncle Festus,

You can hi-jack my blog any time, dawg. I'm finding the links and knowledge you and Zack are dropping pretty damn rich and it's killing my work day here. The displacement video is really nice. I've heard great things about the Andreini hulls lately. It does seem like the revolution is being televised (or blogified) as we speak. Cool that people have open minds to different ways of riding waves.

It always bugs me when dudes insist that the standard tri-fin thruster is the only way to go and that everything else, new and old, is just fashionable and will eventually fall back to the wayside. It doesn't seem like quads are going anywhere, now does it? So why did I just buy a 6'1 thruster? Having basically cut my teeth on a four finned surfboards (a couple years ago), I feel like I should give "the most important innovation in the history of surfing" a fair shake, along with the hulls, fishies, 2+1's, etc. Although I'm getting more and more excited about these funky speed-stix as I read more about them and see 'em in action...

Birthday board fund, anyone?

Daniel said...

Hull Hounds-
In addition to all the links from Mr. Porkmeyer, you can check out the trailer for Gothic Dolphins, an upcoming hull film as well as short films on Marc Andreini and Brian Hilbers (Fineline) at mollusksurfshop.com.
Cheers.

Anonymous said...

Gracias senior pastor. Great description of the quad experience. Have a similar background myself board wise and am currently riding a 6-0 EPS fish/thruster hybrid shaped by a local guy up here. Love it, super versatile, and I don't bust out my 6-6 round tail thruster till it's top to bottom. It's almost a quiver killer. I've ridden a similar shape by another local guy to that Pavel with the speed dialer fins and was pretty impressed how shreddy it was on 2 to 3 foot gutlessness. Very nice! BTW love H-Bolt & done my time there too. Ah fall down there I can smell it from here. Need to get down there and take a nice little hike to one of my all time shrines.

Dub-

Festus Porkmeyer said...

Hull hounds? I’m just a hull puppy.

Dub: Quiver killer? Ha. Great expression. And so true. I sold a bunch of shit after getting that quad. I had it pretty streamlined for a couple years, then got curious again, I guess ...

Yes, Humboldt in fall is lovely. It smells good. Can be hard to find a wave, though, any day of the year — as I’m sure you remember. Devoted three hours to searching yesterday. At 12 @ 9 with a south breeze, H.E. probably had the most potential to make some sense of it, but I got there late — too much tide. After scouring the northern half of the county, I settled on a long forest hike — no doubt to one of your shrines.

Let us know how that three-finner works out, Macho Man. Try all them kinds of boards, and find your favorites. But it’ll cost you to learn that all of them are your “favorites,” Mikey. And, doooon’t try to cheat the birthday board fund to feed your open mind!

Too much surf on Porky’s brain lately, and this blog ain’t helping. It'll be nice to get back to normal — which is solving complicated math equations in my head. In the meantime, Porky's off on a two-day surf adventure.

One more thing: Chum “Does The Dew” on redneck tire swings in cutoff jean shorts with fucked-up, unsymmetrical hair.

OK. Last thing: I’m NOT sorry about the drop-ins! Bwahahahahaha!

OK. Very last last thing: Porky knows where a dead deer is ...

warm jet said...

I feel ya Sir Chum. I also recently enter the experience of Hulling. And I'm basically just trimming and feeling for now although I have a big urge to sink the wafer thin rails and volan flex fin into a real cutback.
I was lucky that we had swell right after I bought it. I had moments but
as for doing what I want, I'm miles away. I'm a huge Greenough fan and my next goal is to basically ride it in a squat as much as possible working the rails and flex.
I must say my first attempt at a cutback was a fin free layback splat!
I feel it needs a little more juice than 1st point bu.
Mine is 6'10 and at 170lbs I'm sinkin it.
work in progress.

Chum said...

Nice, Warmy. I'll be checking in on your blog to see how it goes for you. Exciting stuff.

eric said...

Hey Porko, it's Eric in Morro Bay. I got to ride an older Paul Gross shaped, 8'6" hull yesterday at Cojo and Perko's and was REALLY digging it. Fast as a mother.

Going to get either ashorter (7'ish) Andreini or Liddle as soon as possible.

Good to hear all is good up there.