Monday, December 13, 2010

New Board: Stamps 8'6 x 30" x 4.25" Curvy little mind-blower!

I'm pretty much over trying to make the call about the bottom end dimensions for my stand up boards. Once upon a time, I popped off saying that I didn't really see any reason to go below 10'. Now my long board stando, the one I pull out when it's small and gutless, is only a couple inches longer than that. As our skills improved (meaning our balance got a whole hell of a lot better) we started wondering if we could loosen the things up a little bit. It was inevitable that we'd want smaller, more maneuverable boards.

Comparison time: On top, in blue, my new 8'6. Below, in green, my 9'1. Two totally different boards with two totally different feels to them. Both boards are 30" wide but the outlines are completely different. Especially the tails, each shape producing a different effect. The wider swallow tail: zippy and punchy off the bottom, big arcing turns with speed. The winged rounded pin: pivoty, snappy turns, this template allows precise placement and correction in the pocket.
What's happened is that we (we? I should really say, the shapers) figured out how to move the foam around to create small, yet surprisingly stable stand up boards. Sub 9' (and now even sub 8' or 7') stand up boards are now fairly common. If you've got the waves to power them up, you'll eventually want a smaller stick. My advice? Try before you buy. Surprisingly, the small board isn't a freak anymore. If you're ready to push your limits there are many choices out there. 

Stamps made this one similar to an 8'6 that came through his shop and ended up at my beach. That 8'6 was do-able for me. It wasn't easy but I could balance on it and paddle it into waves. Once surfing, the thing was magic- loose, fast, ready and willing to go where ever I wanted it to. The balance thing, though disconcerting, wasn't a deal breaker. I figured my version of the 8'6 would just fill a spot in my quiver. I'd pull it out only when it was glassy and calm. Fast forward to two days ago when I first surfed the board above. Wow. Stamps had done something to the board- the wobbles, the tippiness had been hugely dampened. I don't know what was done but I like it- and the thing still surfs unreal!
 Best of all are the hand made, custom boards. These will always be at the bloody end of the pointed stick of stando development.  Us big guys benefit hugely from the research and design that these guys are doing. The results are boards available that will work if you're solidly in the two hundred plus range. The boards are designed and shaped by craftsmen who know how to blend the necessary volume into a small package. Sure you could hack out a sub-8', rounded version of Sponge Bob, paddle it around and even catch a wave or two but does the thing feel and move like a surfboard? Or is it just a fat disc of foam, more of a freak show than a purposeful surfing craft?

The business end of my new 8'6. I had to switch my fin set up after my first surf. I wasn't getting the drive I was used to from the Gerry Lopez thruster set I've been running on my other boards. I switched the side fins out for some very large, one off, twin fins cut in creamy, flexy g-10 material (thanks Stu!). The wider based fins (these things are mackers) are still flexy, the big bases produce solid drive for the wide tail. I also switched out the middle fin to a 6" surfy shaped fin. Voila! The board went full Frampton and came alive. All fins are by Futures... thanks Futures you guys rule!
I am solidly in the sub 9' camp now- a true believer ever since I've started surfing this curvy little 8'6 mind blower that Stamps put together for me. The board isn't just a quiver filler- it's not a specialized tool to be used only under glassy conditions- this one might just become my go-to board, it's that fun to surf. Performance points include: on demand speed (a product of that wide tail), positive hold off the bottom and nice drive down the line (provided you run the right fin configuration- think big, wide twin fin outlines and a slightly bigger box fin). Off the top, the board is snappy and, with a little extra rocker in the front half (thanks Stamps!) the board is not prone to stuffing itself on the re-entry. I'm super excited to get this thing down south into some warm, blue Southern Baja surf; my winter time proving grounds with a girl who's ready to run. I'll keep you posted! 

I dig the freshy (especially the early 90's color fade) but both of these are coming down south- as well as a 12' to log some miles... gotta stay sharp for the Hanohano! And, maybe my 10'6 for the small days... and, okay, a couple of prone boards too. What the heck, why not?


Anonymous said...

John, don't know if you've trid a quad set up, but I swear by it. My PSH 8'6" has the Futures Jerry Lopez SUP quads. The board tracks well when paddling, is totally loose, but hold in a hollow pocket no problem. Acceleration is better with my quad setups than my tri's.

John Ashley said...

Hey Anon-

Yeah- I'm sure I'm crazy because everybody seems to really like them... except me. I haven't given up hope on them- I've tried them so many times (and I'm even bringing a set of GL quads down south to try again) but they just seem weird to me.

I didn't get the five fin box option on this latest one but I do have it on my 9'1 and I'll ride it quad again.

To me they seem too drifty unless you get your foot right over them- which I never did unless I was doing a hard off the top or something. So, I 'd be driving down the line- mostly trimmed forward with the tail end getting all drifty and not engaging positively like with my thruster or 2 + 1 set up....

I'm not going to rule it out- and like I said- maybe I'm crazy because everybody seems to like 'em but I just keep coming back to the pivoty, chainsaw-positive carveability of the thruster or 2 + 1 set up.

I'm sure I'm missing something!

Unknown said...

Uh . . . John . . . uh, just askin . . . if I manage to work in a trip to the San Diego area sometime soon, like maybe yesterday, and if I happen to see your, uh, brand new pristine 8'6" just lying around somewhere in an unsecured location while your attention is, uh, let's say, temporarily diverted . . . do you suppose you'd be very upset if it just, uh, disappeared for 20 minutes or so when the conditions are, uh, just right? Not that it would actually happen or anything . . . just wonderin how you'd take it if, uh, something like that did happen. Just askin . . . just in case . . .

John Ashley said...

Hey Glenn-

Friends get to use whatever boards I've got- so dig in buddy, dig in!

Let me know when you're in town again- I'll be back early January.

Unknown said...

Not that I was hinting around or anything, but you sure made my day!

True story . . . I woke up this morning with the realization that I had been dreaming of riding a blue 8'6" Stamps that looked just like yours. Guess I should stay away from your blog for the last hour or so before bed.