Clipz: Random Selections

Greetings, Shredderz! Here’s a rundown of some of my favorite surf and surfboard-related videos in recent memory.

There’s a good chance that some of you will see a Firewire Surfboards video and want to throw up in your mouths a little bit. Sorry but I’m not sorry. It’s particularly hard to feel any remorse when Rob Machado has made such a graceful transition to middle age, partially due to his embrace of alternative designs. I love watching him surf this mid-length fish. I continue to be fascinated by Machado’s insistence on dropping edits with below average waves when every other surfer in the world has to go halfway around the world to find something worthy of an Instagram post. Anyway, Machado’s Seaside and Beyond model looks super fun. I love the relaxed takeoffs, coupled with the ability to fly past flat sections, and finally a shocking amount of maneuverability in the turns. Here’s a different clip of Machado explaining the genesis of the new Seaside and Beyond model.

For more talented San Diego surfer / shapers, here’s Ryan Burch weighing in on a couple of different topics. I can’t believe Slater asked Burch to make him a longboard! I don’t think I’ve ever seen footage of Slater surfing anything other than super high performance equipment, so I hope Burch reconsiders his stance of declining to shape the stick.

If you’d rather watch Ryan Burch surf than talk, then hopefully the above clip scratches that itch for you. Personally I’m a fan of both!

The power balance in the surf media seems to be shifting away from the legacy outlets, which mostly have their roots in print, towards YouTube series from individual surfers. There’s a lot of good stuff out there, but even in this crowded field Mason Ho stands out. Like the other surfers mentioned above, Ho is pretty open-minded when it comes to his equipment. In this day and age when Pipe step up boards are barely over six feet, Mason seems to relish going longer than a lot of his contemporaries. Here he surfs a 6’9″ Matt Biolos board whose length and rocker seem like they’d be a better fit in an early Taylor Steele flick. Also, Mason appears to have more fun than anyone when it comes to actually surfing, and that always makes him a pleasure to watch.

Clipz: Here and There

Greetings, Shredderz! Welcome to the latest installment of Clipz, where we’ll be serving up a heaping helping of tasty surfboard related videos. Kick back, relax and press play.

By now you are probably familiar with Ryan Lovelace, the young Santa Barbara-based shaper with a ridiculous waitlist and a passionate following for his entirely hand shaped, often colorful creations. Lovelace, along with photographer Morgan Maassen and surfer / artist Trevor Gordon, just released a sweet little clip titled “Dusts of Gold”, which you can watch above. I wrote up an earlier Gordon video effort in a previous entry. Maassen just might be my favorite surf photographer from this current generation from photogs; he’s responsible for the gorgeous photo you see at the top of the page, which I found via his Instagram account.

“Dusts of Gold” features a truly out-there Lovelace shape that will win you any game of surf hipster bingo: it’s a side cut edge board flex tail twin fin. Jokes aside, the board looks blazing fast under Gordon’s feet, and Maassen makes Rincon look downright romantic, crowds and all. It’s really cool to see a clip showing the full lifecycle of a board from its inception to its eventual journeys on some of California’s most iconic waves.

I loved this clip of Rob Machado messing around on a single fin in some strictly mediocre waves. I hate to say that it feels relatable, because, well, it’s Machado, man, but there’s something very nice — relaxing, even — about seeing ultra talented surfers ride waves that aren’t above my pay grade. Post-tour, Machado has taken a strong interest in alternative shapes, and I’m always excited to see what he’s surfing.

Likewise, there’s something special about this clip of Machado surfing his Go Fish model in a dreamy French lineup. Yeah, yeah, I know, it’s a Firewire. But I’d like to think that I can support both the traditional craftsmanship of hand made surfboards from local shapers, as well as companies that innovate and try new things. Hot button topics aside, I love the soft European afternoon lighting, the welcoming green of the ocean, and Machado’s unhurried style on some small but super fun waves.

Ke11y & Al

Now, I realize that 2004 might not be everyone’s idea of vintage. And you know what? That’s totally fine, because I happen to be the guy in charge of this very blog (mostly because no one else wanted the job, but I digress).

Still though, when it comes to Kelly’s personal boards, especially those that were hand shaped by legendary shaper Al Merrick, the Shred Sledz editorial staff is more than willing to bend the rules a little bit.

Pictured here is a 7′2″ Al Merrick board that was ostensibly shaped for Kelly, which you can currently find for sale on Craigslist in Hawaii.

Everything seems to match up. First, the K logo clearly indicates the board above is a Kelly Slater model that was produced during much of his time with the Channel Islands brand. While the K Board was released to surf shops as a signature model, towards the end of Kelly’s stint with CI, he simply applied the logo to a variety of designs. Here’s a shot of Kelly’s quiver from the 2011 Hawaii season, via the Channel Islands blog, that shows the K logo on a wide range of boards:

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Photo via Channel Islands Surfboards Blog

The other interesting thing about the board pictured in the first set of photos is the fact that it has a thruster setup. Nowadays, Kelly’s boards, like those of most pros, sport a five fin setup that allows toggling between a standard thruster fin configuration, and then a quad fin config for when the waves get bigger and more critical. Here’s a shot from 2014, towards the end of Kelly’s tenure with CI, that shows a five fin setup (though note the K logo is gone):

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Photo via Channel Islands Surfboards Blog

The tri fin setup indicates that the board in the first set of pictures is an older one. There’s a date on the stringer that says 2004, which sounds about right, given that the five fin configuration didn’t become popular until a few years afterwards.

Speaking of the signature, you can see Al’s trademark Al / fish signature, as well as the name Kelly written into it. This makes me all but certain this is a board Al shaped himself for Kelly. See below for an example of another Al / fish signature. It follows the same format as the pic in the set at the top of the page.

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Example of another Al Merrick signature

Finally, the interesting thing is that this board, given its location and its size, was probably crafted as a step up for Kelly’s winter months in Hawaii. It seems practically outdated now, given that Kelly routinely surfs sub 6′ boards at macking Pipeline. Here’s a picture of Kelly about to paddle out at the 2016 Pipe Masters with one of his new Slater Designs boards. You can see Kelly’s 2016 board is well short of 7′2″. One of the biggest innovations in surf craft in recent years has been the downsizing of equipment in serious conditions. Leading the charge, of course, is none other than the shiny headed G.O.A.T.

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Photo courtesy Firewire Surfboards Blog

For some more eye candy, here are three shots of Kelly, taken over the span of almost 25 years (!!!), that show how his equipment at Pipeline has evolved over the years:

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Top photo via Jeff Divine; Middle photo via Bielmann; Bottom photo via Red Bull

Nowadays, of course, Kelly is working on Slater Designs, his own line of boards produced in conjunction with the good folks at Firewire Surfboards. Slater Designs offers some cutting edge, high performance shapes that were created via collaboration with high profile shapers like Daniel Thomson and Greg Webber.

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Photo by Sherman, via Surfing Magazine (RIP)

For many of us, however, Kelly and Channel Islands / Al Merrick will forever be an enduring combination. And the board that’s being offered for sale, at a steep $2,000 dollars, might just be a collector’s item one day. I don’t have a crystal ball, but I can’t imagine there are that many genuine Merrick boards shaped for Kelly that will be up for grabs. Kelly is the greatest surfer ever – and the most influential – and one could make that same argument about Al Merrick and shaping as well. So it’s interesting to wonder if boards that represent this pairing will only become more valuable and meaningful over time.

You can find the board here.