Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Newsflash: I'm No Occy.

Tried out my new-fangled tri-fin thruster yesterday. Let's just say that it was a bit difficult to adapt to, considering that the conditions were fairly extreme (overhead-plus sets). The paddle out was interesting in that although it was easier to duck dive, paddle speed was so much slower. And I duck dove a lot on the first attempt to get outside. I think I lost track at around 30 walls of punishing whitewater.

Anyway, I didn't bring my Mandala to the beach because I wanted to force myself to try my new Parmenter-shaped "Occ-ster," a board based on the sticks Mark Occhilupo rode in the 1980s. After I made the paddle, I wished I had brought a surfboard I knew better. The set waves were really big. Some of them sort of started out breaking mushy, then they would fire on the inner bar, others came on steep and chunky, cranked and closed-out.

It goes without saying that confidence is important in decent/challenging waves. I didn't really have it on the Occster. But that's kind of the curse on any new surfboard: How do you dial it in on those good days, when you know that your tried-and-true boards would work better for you? When do you take it out the first time? How many sessions will you sacrifice in order to get comfortable?

After scratching like a madman and missing my first three or four waves (It seemed like I was dragging an anchor), I finally caught a right. I felt so late on the drop, but I made it and the board responded really well. Turned easily off the bottom, but the wave closed out. I did a hard turn to straighten out and it felt really loose. I can see potential there.

I caught a few more before my arms were completely shot. I noticed that the board is plenty stable on the take-off, so that's not a problem, but the speed I have grown accustomed to on my quad and 2+1 just isn't there. That effortless zero-to-lightspeed-in-two-seconds shift into fifth gear. I know that I need to immediately pump the Occster to generate velocity. Some people like the whole act of moving the board around to create speed on a wave. Occy was a master at that. For me, it's sort of the trade-off that allows you to have that agility to whip turns off your back foot. Give and take. Sacrifice.

I'm not there yet.

I surf twice a week at the most. Do I have enough time to spend floundering, feeling back at square one, like the first time I ever stood on a board? I'm not giving up on the Occster after one session, but at the same time, I'm not leaving home without my daily driver again.

Metric - Between the Bars (Elliott Smith Cover)


Nash said...

Good to see you on it with the new stick. Sounds like yesterday was fun, wish I could have made it. Saturday?

Daniel said...

A good friend of mine had a Parmenter Occ-ster and never clicked with it for many of the same reasons you list here. Finally, after months of frustration, missed waves, and ice cream headaches some board guru told him that many of Dave's boards have a Hawaiian rocker which he felt was the main reason for the slow paddle / late takeoff,etc.

Funny thing is my friend now rides a flat rockered 2+1 diamond tail and loves it.

Anyway, good on ya for trying something new, hope it works out.

Chum said...

"Funny thing is my friend now rides a flat rockered 2+1 diamond tail and loves it."

That's a mind-boggling coincidence, actually! Thanks for the note. Did you friend buy the board at Moondoggies?

lawless said...

That's a fairly small board as well. Just going off the dimensions I'd say the ideal rider would be 150-160# and less than 6' tall. Coming off of a floatier, flatter board that board is going to feel slow to paddle and you'll have to adjust your positioning a bit to get into waves earlier. That's the quirk of boards like this, you drop in later but in turn that puts you in the more critical part of the wave and the rocker curves help you to stay there, not necessarily speeding you up to outrun it but slowing you down to stay in the pocket. It's definately a different mindset surfing a standard high-performance thruster vs. a 2+1 or quad with wider outlines and flatter rocker.

It's cool to try different stuff and adapt to it though. Makes you a well-rounded surfer, that and it's just fun.

Imagine all the surfers who all they've ever know is these types of thrusters...

NiegĂ  said...

"How many sessions will you sacrifice in order to get comfortable?"

I'm giving a new board 10 average sessions to feel confortable with it. If after that it's not working for me... ik get rid of it.

Btw, yesterday i just had session #3 on my new trifin shortboard... and after over a year of only riding quad fishes and the occasional bonzer i'm having the same troubles as you so well describe.


Daniel said...

Yeah, Moondoggies.

Nash said...

Chum, I'd say he got you spot on.

"I'd say the ideal rider would be 150-160# and less than 6' tall"

jake said...

I am surprised to hear you struggled on that shape, I have found those 80's thrusters to be some of the most user friendly shapes however I say that having never ridden a Parmenter.

I used to own a bunch of boards (5) and found I never had the right board under my feet. Now I ride two, a K-small wave and the tubeshooter (5'10 single fin). If I have been riding the single fin exclusively I still find it awkward to transition back to the truster.

Having recently moved to PDX from Cardiff I never know what to ride so I bring both.

Slim said...

I have a vid with some Parmenter interview footage about the "state of the industry." You should borrow it.

Chum said...

I'm 5'8 and 145 lbs (on a good day) so the size is probably fine... but that's not taking into consideration my weakling status after taking a couple weeks off and my fighting off a cold... Excuses, excuses, I know. I was thinking that on a better, less intimidating day, I might have a different experience.

As for Parmenter, I've read so much of his writing that I feel like I know him personally. I know he takes his shaping seriously, considering the crazy string of dims written down the stringer!

Porky said...

Give it a couple more tries, Chum. If it still don't click, sell it to Dub, who will no doubt appreciate the board's similarities to what he learned on in the mid-'80s. That Occ-ster's like a knockoff of a great Linden I had in '87.

I still think the size is good for you. Remember that a thruster needs to be driven from the tail and it's essential to lock into the sweet spot — which might require you to slide your feet back a few inches (or feet! Ha.) after takeoff. When you find the sweet spot, you'll know it, as the handling becomes focused and precise.

After seeing how quickly you adapted to the Liddle, I can't help but think you could do the same on the "greatest thing that ever happened to the world."

Here's some inspiration:

Oh, dear:

lee said...

Good on yer for trying something new but i reckon its important to remember that surfing is spose to be fun and i see too many grumpy guys on the wrong boards. ( I dont mean you ) give it some time im sure itll work out.

Surfsister said...

Since I'm now on something much shorter, I'm doing the floundering bit too. However, I'm determined to get this shorter board dialed in. It's just going to take some time . . . and some suffering. Stay with it. Now that you know how that board needs to be surfed, you'll get it dialed in. Don't stop now!

Chum said...


I'm an open book! You're right about foot placement. Seems so unnatural to be on the tail like that, but I'm going to do it. I found out during the session that applying weight to my front foot doesn't accelerate the board, when I pearled and got folded up on a big inside wave.

Your videos are especially relevant, considering that I'm at the beach this weekend and yesterday I surfed with Gerry Lopez, who is on a stand-up board!

El Porko Loco said...


After all DP has written in praise of hand-shaped boards and his own "cottage" outfit, not to mention his rants against outsourcing, I was surprised to learn about his Boardworks model.