Review: 44 Inch Square Tail Custom.
By Dan Dobbin.
As much as as I like to think I’m an individual, bulwarked against the whims of fashion and social change around me, in my more self reflective moments I’ve got to admit, I’m a sucker like everyone else. A receptor for the ideas and marketing spin that spews forth and propagates through the collective culture of the surfing world.
If you live in the East Coast of Australia as I do, you might be aware of the explosion of mid length twin fin surfboard designs, particularly amid the bearded and bunned byronocrachy types that seem to be slowly radiating their territory outwards from their trust fund purchased, white floored, instaperfect abodes.
The queen bee of this proliferation is Torren Martyn, an incredibly talented, bunned, bumfluffed and adored surfer from, well, Byron Bay.
Despite being neither bearded nor bunned, I am however a lazy footboarder, so the thought of paddling around on a big board was appealing. I am also a cheapskate, so I didn’t cough up the $800 or so dollars for a trendy mid length twin fin. I bought a busted up old 6’8′ stretch fish off Gumtree instead.
Turns out a lot of volume and rail length is actually really fun to ride!
So why not see if the same thinking could be applied to my bodyboards.
Again, no man is an island etc. The sports foremost railmonger Mitch Rawlins has been creeping ever longer with his boards for years now. His current beau is a 43.5′ bat tail. The boards Ryan Hardy was riding in “Punk” were 44′. So let’s give some extra length and girth a go!
The brief was fairly simple. More go in small conditions. Extra Length, square tail for maximum planing space, no channels to illuminate drag and make it loosey goosey.
Length : 44
Nose : 12.125
Nose to Wide point: 19.125
Tail : 18.125
Adam McHugh at Solution customs near Newcastle knocked it out in under a week, and added a cool little thinned out contour around the nose to make it easier to grip with the added volume.
Murphy’s law, the board arrived at the same time as a nice 4-6ft east swell. Not the conditions she was built for, but we all know what happens when you get a new board.
First issue, actually paddling the sucker. Full stretch to keep the hands on the nose and the hips hanging of the tail.
First wave, second adjustment. Needed to put my rail hand further back than I normally would to square my opposite hip up on the tail peg.
Now the fun bit. More rail length equals more drive and distance. Taking off deeper and driving. Blowing around sections you wouldn’t normally traverse. Suddenly the playing field opens up.
One of the prime handicaps of the bodyboard has always been it’s limitation in generating and maintaining speed, particularly in average conditions. As Das Goat Michael Stewart has noted, a bodyboard is fantastic tool for harnessing and redirecting power, but not that great for generating it. The longer rail line on a bigger board doesn’t solve this problem, but it opens up a few more avenues.
I found myself just enjoying the big looping bottom turns and greater wave face distances I could cover rather than thinking about trying to fit in moves and hugging the pocket for speed as you normally would on a smaller board.
This was single fin surfboard style laying prone. Pick a line, let the rail drive run its course, then redirect.
Different, but good.
It wasn’t all sunshines, lollipops and rainbows though. A wide square tail with no bottom contours was slippery as fuck in anything less then a flat bottomed pit. A few barrels not made because, channelling my 11 year old self on a 43′ BZ Pro Stinger circa 1990, well, I slid out. One second I’m sitting pretty in the pit, the next I’m careening into the shocky.
Once things settled down on the swell front I was able to give the board a whirl in the kinds of conditions she was built for. The lack of grab in the back end let it whip through spins, while the extra volume and speed meant small wave lip flips seemed plausible, if not always possible!
The advantages of the longer rail still held true in the small juice, allowing me to make it drive around sections previously not manageable on a shorter craft.
I found that to get most out the board required me to get low and forward through my bottom turns, similar to the way you’ve seen Rawlins driving off the bottom. It’s the prone approximation of stand up surfings power squat through the bottom turn, a newtonian equation of action and reaction, greater downward pressure applied equalling more upward projection.
Is it a board you could ride every day?
No. I won’t be dragging it out any sucky beachies or ledging reef breaks any time soon.
But if it can make average surf more appealing, a little more interesting and stimulating then it’s fulfilled it purpose.
Where to from here then? Well the only direction, I suppose, is up!