Into My Board Room
Evolution of Laird’s Quiver
Right now I’m excited about these new Surftech Laird Sup boards shaped by Bob Pearson…
We’ve been evolving these for a while. I’ve been working with Bob for like five years now. A lot of thought and energy has gone into these new boards. Bob’s made me about 50 of them. These boards are made from what I ride.
These boards were ridden in easy waves here [summertime waves in California], and they’ve been ridden at Teahupoo… [see this issue’s cover] They’re good all around boards, performing well in a range of waves from 1 to 10 feet. Everybody that’s ridden these loves ‘em.
What makes a good board? I’ve been through the whole course. I’ve tried it all.
One thing I say is that, it’s not about what they do – it’s what they don’t do. What they don’t do is catch an edge, they don’t pearl [nose dive], they don’t do those negative things that end up hurting you.
For me, one tell-tale sign that a longboard shape performs well is if the board spins around in every position and never catches. That’s how you know you have a good rail, you have a good outline and you have good rocker. If there’s a weird thing somewhere, it’s going to catch. And that’s really the sign of it.
It’s a little bit like golf; you’re only as good as your worst shot. If all your worst things are good then your best things will be great.
These boards are really clean, rounded pin tail, rounded nose designs. I always liked clean, simple, rounded pin tails. There’s no break in the water flow. It’s cosmetically and aesthetically pleasing but yet there’s a totally functional aspect of it. There’s no weird water release or anything like that.
I like fuller noses because they maintain the parallel outline… When you get into much bigger waves, some of the parameters change. The wider noses of these boards don’t work as well. But when you have a nice straight-out line the board goes over on the edge and drives. This design really allows you to do two different kinds of surfing. It allows you to do rail carving, where you get trajectory from the rail. But then you can get back on the tail… it’s got curve in the tail so it gets loose. Most people in most conditions will love these boards.
How did I get started with Bob? It’s funny…he sent some boards… I think it was a teaser. The old “the first one’s for free” trick. I rode it and I went “oh wow.”
After the Bill Hamilton boards, I went to Gerry [Lopez] and he made me one.
Gerry was like “I don’t really want to make any more of these.” I knew the work he went through. So, I said “Well Gerry, who can build me a big board that won’t mind?” Gerry said his friend Ron House.
I had known Ron House for years. I went to his place and he started making me boards based on designs that I was working on. These eventually led to the Surftech 12’1”s [the first production standup boards].
Ron then built me some guns. In the interim I’d met Bob Pearson and he also built me some guns for Jaws and Maui’s North Shore.
What works at Jaws
Jaws is a specific wave. You can’t use it as a reference for any other wave… at all.
For example, when you standup paddle at Teahupoo, the takeoff zone is tiny. You sit, you wait, you do two strokes, and you’re in. At Jaws… there’s so much water moving. The waves are moving so fast. And the lineup is huge. It’s a giant area. There’s bump. You’re getting blown by wind.
You need to have board length for the speed needed to get into the wave. And you need to have weight to get down the wave face in the wind and stay connected. That’s where I’m at right now, until something else works better.
You’ve got to get in, you’ve got to get down. No in, no down, no fun.
Now, do I think that we can work on that? And where will that go? Yeah, that’s an area of huge growth.
Trying lots of boards
I’ve always been open to working with a lot of shapers. In addition to Bill Hamilton and Gerry, I’ve always worked with Dick Brewer.
I have some other guns I’m riding now, made by Terry Chung. I would ride those at Mavericks, or Sunset or Waimea. Terry made a couple specifically for Tahiti.
Terry is a great shaper and an incredible surfer from Kauai. He’s an incredible foilboarder too. He’s a good person to be in the water with when it’s big. That’s when you really find out about people – you get them out there when it’s 30 feet in the chaos and find out who they are.
Dick Brewer has really been one of the main guys over the years too…He is the Master; he is the undisputed heavyweight shaper of the world.
So yeah, I have long-standing relationships with a lot of shapers… and I’ve always made it an understanding that I’m going to try a lot of boards.
In the end it’s not that I don’t have an allegiance to guys. It’s just that I don’t want to be compromised because I’m stuck in a relationship. I like to go with guys that have a specialty – guys that are good at specific things.