Stringerless Sunday


This are two a Sam Egan stringerless V's from the late '60s.

The clear one is 8' x 24.5"

The red one is 7' x 24"

For more on Sam Egan, go here. He's an interesting guy!

The Squash Nose

In the hull world, this is about the fullest nose as you'll generally come across...

But lurking out there is an even more extreme level of 'nasal plenitude.'


The squash, or squared off, nose has surfaced in board design from time to time. The aesthetic is so far outside the norm, even hardcore hull aficionados avert their eyes in disgust.

Prior to the shortboard revolution, squared-off noses were utilized...usually in the context of enhanced nose riding.


The other, more ubiquitous use is on body boards, which doesn't help the social image of squash noses one iota...

So what's the 'point' of a squash nose? What possible benefit does it have?

Look at these two squash nosed boards banking over into a turn. 1968 and 2010 respectively...


Yes, they both are wide hulls that carve easily. Yes, both surfers obviously know what they're doing. But there's an added component of 'bankitude' in both these images.

There's a reason why. It's hard to verbalize, but I'll take a stab at it.

The rate of curve is an important part of why a board (with displacement hull) wants to bank over on its rail. When you cut the nose off, you increase the rate of curve in the nose area, which encourages a board to carve up on its rail.

Let's take a 7 foot long by 22" wide hull, with the wide point 6" ahead of center. The outline in the front half of the board curves a total of 11 inches in 3 feet...which is the distance from the wide point to the end of the nose. If you cut 3 inches off the length in the nose, that 11 inches of curve would be compressed into 2' 9'', even though the curve itself didn't change until the very end of the nose. That shortened, square nosed board would ride differently.

When you push the board over on its rail in a turn, there's a subtle tendency for a board with a shorter, blunter nose to continue its banking motion beyond the energy you put into the turn. Even though the rail line that's touching the water isn't altered, the ''lateral polar moment of inertia'' in the nose area is increased. When you push it over on its rail, that banking/rotating motion wants to keep going.

Conversely, if you added length to a similar board (in the form of a longer, pointed nose) it would want to remain 'flat' on the wave face, and would take more force for you to bank it over. Which is why guns are hard to bank over in small waves. And why powerful surfers in the mold of Nat Young or Michael Peterson can carve boards with a pointed nose with ease.

To prove this hypothesis -- which I have on several occasions -- take a hull with a pulled-in nose. Ride a few waves. then saw an inch off the end of the nose. Ride a few more waves. Then cut another inch off the nose, and surf it some more. Each time you do that, the board will be easier to bank over into a turn...until you go too far, and the board becomes uncontrollable.

The sweet spot would probably be between #3 and #5.

This relates more to displacement hulls than flat bottom boards. A flat bottom board would catch and stick if you cut the nose off, unless it had an ungodly amount of nose lift. But hulls have a more complex bottom that allows for greater latitude in terms of the outline.

Look at these Boston Whalers with 'squash noses.' The hull under the bow allows them to penetrate the water with ease without the nose catching. Hull surfboards, while not as extreme, afford us the same 'best of both worlds' component.

This doesn't mean that boards with pointed noses won't bank over into a turn, or that banking over into a turn is the end-all and be-all of  hull surfing. It's just to say that blunter noses take less effort to get up on the rail.

Food for thought...

Flip Flop Friday

This is a new feature, where classic hull surfing photos are flopped so that you, the viewer, might more readily relate to them.

In the opening posting, regular foots are treated to shots of Wayne Lynch riding the right way around!


Richie West: The Santa Barbara Era


If you were around the Ventura/Santa Barbara area from 1969 through 1973, and had even a passing interest in hull/stubby surfing, Richie West was a one of your heroes. 

Much like Skip Frye down in San Diego, Richie was (and still is) a blue collar icon. He built boards and surfed. On any given day he was either wearing a wetsuit or breathing through a respirator. If Rincon had a ripple over 3 feet, he was out at the Rivermouth. If you went by the Wilderness shop, Mike or Peter may or may not be there...but Richie was, covered in dust and anxious for you to leave so he could get back to work.

Before leashes, he surfed like he was wearing a leash. Wrap around cutbacks and deep tube rides that ended in a swim were commonplace. Any opportunity to stuff himself into the pocket was taken, without regard for the outcome. Again, like he was wearing a leash. But he wasn't. He was willing to pay the price in dings and swims to push his surfing forward.

Watch how many times he gets eaten during the Poison Oak Point sequence in Crystal Voyager. Then think about the gnarly rocks along the edge of the break there...


 His boards were beat-to-shit, but he didn't care...

The 5'10'' stubby in this picture was his daily rider, and he kept it going for years with repair after repair.

I was looking through a stack of old photos a couple of days ago, and came across this shot I took of Richie at the Rivermouth in 1972...

He's in perfect trim, with perfect body language, hovering over the perfect spot on his board, in the perfect part of the wave. On a stubby he built. It's a seemingly simple moment, but it speaks volumes to his holistic surfing talent.

The irony of this photo is that Skip Frye was out this day too. That's when I first realized how similar their souls were. Two of the hardest core surfer/builder/watermen ever of all time.

Richie West left Santa Barbara for Australia in 1973 and took his talents with him. Here's his current web page.



This is a 6' 0'' Richie-inspired hull I shaped back in the mid-90's. It had been over 20 years since I'd seem him surf, and I was still under his influence...


Addendum 2:

At the far right is the number of page views after this post was up for only three days...