Monday, November 14, 2011


Trying a new board can be both fun and frustrating.  A new board is, well, new.  Different length, different thickness thus buoyancy, different sweet spot for paddling and turning and, if you’re really mixing things up, a different tail, fin configuration, and rail edge.  With all of these adjustments in a new board, you have to make adjustments in your surfing too.  You may have to paddle harder or sooner to catch a wave, stand farther back to drive a bottom turn or one off the top, and you may have to work harder to get more speed to get through the flats or around a section.  They say variety is the spice of life and it’s definitely true when it comes to surfboards. 
I bought this 9’2” John Peck Penetrator a couple of months ago off of a seller in Reno, NV of all places.  I was intrigued for a couple of reasons.  For one, John Peck is a legendary surfer who only recently returned to shaping – and is only doing it on a limited basis.  So, I was curious to see what he liked in a board.  One thing he sure likes a lot is Christianity.  There’s a ghost-like portrait of JC (no, not John Carper) on the nose and scripture and other spiritual messages written on the stringer on both the deck and bottom.  Second, I was intrigued by the interesting tail block which is essentially a dovetail off of the center stringer.  Lastly, it has a pintail and I was curious how a pintail would perform on a longboard.  By comparison, the longboard I’ve ridden for years is a little longer and a little thicker, it has a little more rocker and a square tail.  So, the Penetrator was a departure for me and what I’m used to surfing on as far as longboards go.  It looks like it’s taken a beating and I wonder if it almost buckled given the stress cracks running horizontally across the bottom and the dings on the deck at the rails just down from the half way point.  Regardless, the board is solid and sound with no delams.  I’ll clean these dings up and fix the cracks someday soon; I just couldn’t wait to take this board out and see how it felt.

I’ve only surfed it a few times, mostly in waist-high surf.  I liked the responsiveness of the pintail but definitely noticed that, with less rocker, I had to sit back on it a bit on takeoffs otherwise I’d pearl.  This weekend I took it out in head high surf and because there’s less rocker, the takeoffs are more critical.  On the steeper waves, the thin rails held really nicely in the face of the wave and the pintail would really pivot sharply but I’d inevitably bury one of the inside, knife-thin rail and...splash.  So while the board is ultra responsive, I have to adjust to how much more responsive it is to what I’m used to.  I look forward to getting a better feel for the board even though it’s going to come at the expense of some nice waves that I know I’d normally catch on another board.  So again, a new board can be both fun and frustrating.  But by switching it up every now and then we’re reminded of how exhilarating surfing is.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.  Oh, and happy birthday Dad!