Thursday, February 12, 2009


RK con soapbar and suds

Civil Rights

"Hi!" line

Finless diversion

I spent some time at parking lot reef this last weekend. I saw some good surfing, mostly by people who were not me. I spied RK on his little Simmons board. People tend to buzz on this board idea. Even reputable surfboard craftsmen whisper to me about the board as RK walks down the beach. Though I'm not particularly interested in surfing the specific design, I do find the story of this strain of surfcraft pretty compelling. Are we witness to the advent of a distinct line of surfing design? With Kenvin et. al. are we seeing a moment of punctuated evolution in creativity? Certainly there has been enough mysto-rootsism publicity to move a small hoard of experienced and experimental surfers onto these li'l sims. The silver cloud of the long awaited (now mythical?) surf film Hydrodynamica parades around the rim of this strand of surfing life- creating a shadowed enthusiasm. Regardless, I am interested to see what comes next.

One simple question: If this is a surfcraft lineage in the making, why would a surfer buy one of these little soap bars from anyone other than the originator? I've seen others making the design, but if I can get one from the braintrust, why wouldn't I?

All photos courtesy Gtall, thanks.


Anonymous said...

I hear ya, but lineage isn't always linear. It spreads into branches like so many other things. Always been that way, and I welcome all of the interpretations.

borntoloser said...

Anon- granted, but why not go to the source if it is available?

clayfin said...

cost for one thing, availability maybe? And some people like to DIY.

I like your thoughts on the matter though. As a confirmed and unapologetic bandwagon jumper on-er, I can't wait to shape my "interpretation" number 2.

Anonymous said...

It's like furniture—buy the design, not the brand. If it's well-crafted and the soul is there, then why not?

Honestly, playing a bit of devil's advocate, but I do get into other people's interpretations if they're well done. Seems like surf history is chock full of this, no?

Anonymous said...

'Lineage branching' and 'interpretations' suggest there's something different about the versions but most seem like mere copies, not really taking the concept anywhere. Aren't cost and availability why people buy asian made boards? Seems like if you want local shapers to be protected, you should at least give their designs some credit. There's some devil's advocating for you!

borntoloser said...

Clay- cost is a viable issue for some, however, most guys riding or interested in riding these things are serious, quivered surfers. They will spend money on a board of repute. Availability is a non-issue. I could order one up this moment or walk into a shop and grab one. The DIY thing is definitely valid.

Anon1- Surfboards are not furniture. Chairs tend to be sat on in much the same way. Surfboards have nuance that define the riding experience. And yes, surf history is full of variations coming from a single source. But the source remains iconic and singularly attuned to the origins and performance of a design.

If you have access to the mastermind behind a design, why not?

Anon 2- I don't necessarily think it's a slippery slope to pop-outs but I definitely agree with appreciating the local craftsmen and designers by supporting their products. Going to the source of the design is a good way to do that.

Carry on.

Anonymous said...

Okay, considering your point, what's to be said about the Alaia type of board he's riding? What's the original source? Are we talking the ancient Hawaiians, Wegener, what? This looks like a tweaked version of an original if you ask me. So, Bonzers only from MC? I see a lot of other cool versions. Round bottoms? Look at all of the Velo copies everyone is so hot for. DIRECT copies. I get your point, but I stand by mine.

borntoloser said...

alai'a= ancient hawaiians, I'd go to them before Wegener were it possible.
Bonzer= Campbells, I'd go to them if I wanted a bonzer.
Velo type spoons=Greenough, I'd go to him if it were possible.
Hulls=Malibu crew, I'd go to one of them if I want one.
Keel=Lis, I'd go to him if I want one
Glider=Frye, I'd go to him if I wanted one
Gun= I don't want one, I'm kind of a scaredy-surfer.

I definitely see what you're saying about variations being valid, I think the fact that the birth of the board type is so recent makes me more inclined to go with the originator. It seems that the farther in time we are away from its origination, the more likely the designs variations are to gain validity in my eyes. Kind of hypocritical of me. Hmmm. I guess I am mortal...

Anonymous said...

"Glider=Frye, I'd go to him if I wanted one"

Well, you're one of the lucky few!

I just think the fish is an excellent (if overused) example of what I'm talking about. The keel fish is 100% Lis, no doubt. But Frye, Pavel, Mabile have all garnered tons of attention because of their variations of that original concept. While Toby has been crafting keels since the early days, it's his modern variations that put him on the map (thanks/no thanks in large part to Thomas Campbell). Manny Caro's whole career started with his fish deal, now he's basically making Andreini copies (okay, not helping myself here). So, there can indeed be direct copies and so why not go to the source? But there are also valid variations on an original theme. Same with music, architecture, design in general. And, these are all nuanced pursuits.

borntoloser said...

I appreciate your point of view and agree with aspects of your statements. However, using the fish as an example, the fact that Larmo/Pavel/Manny/Christenson etc. have gained attention because of their derivative variation on the Lis original does nothing to lessen the prominence of the originator. Some might even say- me- that it further legitimizes the originator's claim to being something of a design guru (kind of an ugly word). Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.

This doesn't mean that those derivations aren't killer. I've owned and enjoyed fish from all of the shapers named above. But it further inspires me to get to the root of the matter- the source. Perhaps I'm in the minority on this one. Perhaps I'm interested in the idea of origins more than most. Fair enough.

Still, if I want a rectangle planing hull I'll be calling on RK et al.

Nice conversation- thanks for chiming in.

Anonymous said...

None of us can get one from the brain trust because he is dead.

borntoloser said...

Simmons is dead, but the distinct line of small, rectangular planing hulls represents a new design altogether in my view. Many might view it as a "variation" on a theme, but that gets back to the heart of the discussion. Is a design more intrinsically valid if it is created as "close" to the original source as possible?

kaser_one said...

I can speak as somewhat of an experienced person on this subject. I've had the pleasure of riding the Joe B./Swift MiniSim and also my local shapers' interpretation, and another well known shapers attempt.

I feel that there is alot to these boards, more than meets the eye. The Swift definatly has something that the others don't, and it's in the design.

My local shapers' is a blast to ride, and it took 2 tries to get it right for me.

And the other attempt from a more well known, well...that one was kind of a dog. He'd only seen pictures, so it was more of an outline copy and he did his own thing with the rest..I didn't really like it, and I haven't seen him ride it that much either.

borntoloser said...

K1- you bring some first hand experience to bear. Thanks for your input. Glad you got your camera.