Supersize Me! with Colin Herlihy.
First up, can you give us a little background on the Colin Herlihy story? Where are you from, how did you get into bodyboarding ?
My name is Colin Herlihy. I am 39 years old born and raised in the small beach town of Bethany Beach Delaware.
I was raised in an ocean loving family. My dad was a surfer and my mom would ride waves on rafts and boogie boards. They were the very first people I saw riding waves so I naturally wanted to emulate what they were doing.
As far as staying on a bodyboard early on as opposed to gravitating to a surfboard that was just me being a product of the environment I was raised in and where I traveled to when I was young. Delaware is known on the east coast for it’s hollow shorebreak so a majority of my peers rode bodyboards. When my family and I would go to the outer banks my family friends rode boogie boards so we would all boogie board together.
My family and I started going down to Puerto Rico when I was 6 years old and continued going on school breaks all through my childhood and Puerto Rico is known for having a strong bodyboard community. So early on everywhere I went and most of my peers were boogie boarders so that is what I did.
What percentage between Prone, Dropknee and Stand Up is your riding usually?
My early days I idolized Mike Stewart so I mainly rode prone. I remember watching Bodyboarding Enough Said for the first time and seeing the Paul Roach section and that forever changed my mindframe on how to ride a wave on a boogie board and that is when my friends and I put all our focus towards dropknee.
Stand up bodyboard came along later down the road when I started ordering boards in the 45 inch range to ride bigger waves in Puerto Rico. I remember having my first quiver of longer boards and my buddy and I saying ” I bet these will work great for stand up back home.” That is when stand up bodyboarding became popular at the local beaches back home and the board started getting attention.
Where did your love of stand up booging come from?
My love of stand up boogie came from how it became a summer tradition for my friends and I. We would spend our summers riding waves off the jetties of Bethany Beach. I really also enjoyed the research and design aspect of making continuous tweaks to the length and shape of the bodyboard. Originally these boards were designed to ride bigger waves in Hawaii and Puerto Rico, but as I got older I started stand up surfing more and then I was influenced by stand up surfing and using some designs from surfing and incorporating them into my bodyboards.
Can you talk us through the evolution of your boards getting bigger and longer?
I remember working at Bethany surf shop and getting my hands on the latest Toobs catalog and seeing the DKB. That was the first round nose board I’d ever seen and I immediately reached out to my team manager at Toobs and ordered one. It immediately felt like the template suited me and my style of dropknee.
A couple years later I graduated high school and started spending my winters in Puerto Rico and was riding bigger waves. I was sliding out on some of the bigger days and just didn’t feel like I had enough planing surface under me so I ordered a 43 inch DKB and a half inch wider than the stock board. That is when I knew I was onto something.
The next winter I went down to Puerto Rico with a fresh batch of 45 inch custom DKB’s varying in width. When I got into the 45 inch range that is when I realized I was really on to something, that is also when I realized that my nose was pearling on steep drops due to no rocker in the nose.
My good friend Eric Simons who I grew up with was traveling to P.R with me and riding the same boards and we started brainstorming on how to add rocker to these boards. This is when things became so interesting and really had that vibe of trying something new. Eric made 3 slices from rail to rail a few inches down from the nose and directly below each slice he made another incision at an angle and then peeled off the sliver of foam to form a natural bend in the board. We experimented with all types of glues to fill in the incisions and used tables, books,etc.. whatever we could find to hold the board in place until the glue dried. This was a process that did not magically happen after the first time.
Once we got it down to a consistent method i immediately started ordering boards in the 48-49 range. This length of board ended up being our go to size for all styles and wave heights. This same winter 1999-2000 I was invited to the dropknee world championship at pipeline and I ordered a 52 inch DKB. Buzz the owner of toobs thought I was crazy, but made it happen.
The following winter I skipped Puerto Rico and went straight to hawaii where I spent the next 13 winters in a row. My second winter there, Toobs started putting 3 inches of rocker in my boards starting a foot back from the nose. My first winter in Hawaii is right around the time I really started stand up bodyboarding at home and custom board orders at Toobs were going through the roof.
Buzz told me if I could prove to him that these boards worked in Hawaii he would give me my signature board. My first winter in Hawaii I got 3 place at the DK world championships at pipeline on a 49 inch board that my friend Eric Simons and I glued together and made our own rocker.
Do you have any design principles that you adhere to with your boards?
Nowadays it’s a really exciting time and by no means has the research and development Plateaued.
I have a board in my signature line known as the soap bar which gets its influence from the mini Simmons surfboard template and for the past 4 years I have been experimenting with asymmetrical boards as well.
Where do you get your boards from?
I have been a Toobs team rider for 26 years. I started riding for Toobs when I was 14 years old. Tom Morey and my dad were buddies in California in the 60’s and in the late 90’s I had the honor of Tom shaping me 2 boards while I was in Cali. I still have these boards to this day.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of riding a 54 inch board?
The only real disadvantage in dropknee riding a 54 inch board would be riding it in smaller waves. 49 inch is my go to DK template in smaller surf. i would compare this in the surfing world to riding a 8’0 big wave gun on a head high day instead of a standard 6’0 shortboard