Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Vera Wang is No Match for Bob Pearson


There was a period of time years ago when all I wanted to do was longboard. I was really digging what Joel Tudor was doing and couldn’t get enough of Bruce Brown’s movies. Longboard surfing, to me, seemed so much more stylish and elegant. This was at the time when short boarding became less about carving big, hard turns and more about smacking the lip and launching airs. I don’t doubt for a second that that stuff is hard but, for me, it gets old. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather look at a wave as a canvas and not a launch ramp. As a result, I thought cross stepping, cheater fives and drop knee turns were WAY more interesting and fun. Longboard surfing seemed to connect more closely with the essence of surfing: hanging out and cruising; no hurry, no worry.

When I returned to Northern California I brought this chill mentality with me but was missing a proper longboard. I had loaned my only longboard to a friend who was going through a rough patch in life and needed the board more than I did. But within a very short period of time I realized if I wasn’t longboarding, I wasn’t surfing at all. And that’s not a good thing. One day, after months of frustration, I had had enough. I bit the bullet. I walked into the Arrow Surf Shop on the West Side of Santa Cruz and left with a beautiful, brand new longboard. To this day it remains the only new surfboard I have ever purchased. This was a pretty big deal at the time. I was engaged to be married, was on a fixed income, and a longboard was not in the budget. But as the saying goes, you can’t put a price tag on happiness. Or sanity for that matter. So I plopped down almost a grand for a board, skeg, leash, and bag. I didn’t see this as frivolous spending but rather as an investment in my happiness and, again, sanity. And I was prepared to make the same argument with my fiancée.

As luck would have it, I came home and was greeted by my fiancée who had informed that she had just made a similar, big ticket purchase: her wedding dress (no, it wasn't a Vera Wang but I don't know any other wedding dress designers and neither do you). She knew how important surfing was too me and had seen the impact of the withdrawals I’d been experiencing so she was cool with it.

Machine shaped and finished off by Bob Pearson of Arrow Surfboards, the board is a 9’6” triple stringer with an accompanying t-band on a square tail. It combines modern lines with a classic style. While not a noserider in the traditional sense (wide, concave nose) here’s enough rocker in the nose so that it can nose ride and it doesn’t pearl on steeper waves. The foil is definitely more modern – in addition to the kick in the nose and the tail, there’s plenty of volume in the center, allowing for good float and knee paddling. In keeping with the classic tradition, it’s got full 50/50 rails, allowing the water to wrap around the curve of the rail and hold the board in the wave for enhanced trimming and noseriding.

Twelve years later, my wife’s wedding dress sits in a box in our basement. On the other hand, my longboard has seen considerably more use. I stopped riding shortboards for over ten years in favor of this versatile board. I’ve ridden it countless times on waves of all sizes and quality up and down the coast. While it’s showing its age it’s still a special board. It got shelved over a year ago when I got another longboard (read about it here) until I needed it in a pinch. I took it out on a small, knee- to waist-high day and fell in love with it all over again. I caught tons of waves and was reminded of how responsive it is. I’ve had similar experiences with it since. So while fall is in the air and I’m looking forward to surfing shorter boards on bigger waves, I have the constant reminder of how much fun longboarding is, particularly when you have an amazing board.

Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.