Saturday, May 15, 2010

Reno 411 (The Rest of the Story)

My previous post about running into Reno Abellira on the beach at Trestles left me with a few questions. Among them: Was he really wearing one of those H-Bomb wetsuits with the batteries taken out? What happened to his choppers? Did I almost just get my ass kicked for saying "That's cool?" And was he really claiming to have designed the Bonzer center fin?

A week later I had the rare opportunity to do some fact-checking. A job put me on Oahu for a few days, where I took a morning to drive out to Cafe Haleiwa on the North Shore and speak to Duncan Campbell, one of the two brothers behind the Bonzer.

When I described my run-in with Reno, Duncan laughed hard and told me this story: He said that as crazy as Reno seems, he's one of the most important innovators of the modern surfboard. Back in the '70s, Reno was one of the few people experimenting with putting three fins on a board, along with the Campbell Brothers. But Reno's version of the tri had the fin cluster arranged in reverse, with the center fin placed in front of the two side fins. Duncan said that whenever Reno claims to have invented the thruster, he always tells him, "If that's true, then why aren't you still making surfboards with two fins in the back?"

But Duncan went on to say that Reno's designs for the board's center fin had a huge influence on the current Bonzer center fin. In fact, he wasn't lying on the beach at Trestles. It actually was his creation that he was about to ride on those speedy rights.

"And you can blog that," said Duncan.


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