Michael Petersen: Paradox On Earth

Maybe the real transition during "The Transition Era" was the changeover, by most surfers, from displacement hull bottoms to down rails and a flat bottom.

Most of the new low railers in 1970 were narrow, severely pointed boards. There was little confusion between stubby displacement hulls and full-on, flat bottom Island-inspired guns. The two were polar opposites...

Unlike the majority of top-tier surfers, a young Michael Petersen was surfing a self-built hybrid board...part low railer, part stubby hull.

He was steeped to the gills in a 'Nat Young transition era' riding style...

...but he was intrigued with the new era of flat bottom design thinking. Putting the ideas of single fin hull surfing and a flat bottom together was an oil and water proposition. (The only other flat bottomed, full outline designs around at the time were the Lis Fish, the Eaton Twin Fin, and the Campbell Bonzer...all multi-finned.)

As luck would have it, in Morning Of the Earth, Albert Falzon captured Petersen riding Kirra Point on what would become an iconic 'hybrid' board. It featured a full outline, single fin, and a flat bottom.

In the hands of a very strong and very determined Michael Petersen, it looked so much like a hull when he surfed it, hull aficionados claimed Petersen, and that board, as their own.

Michael Petersen's legacy resurfaced in the mainstream surf media during the early 2000s. Older ''non-hull surfers'' who were privvy to Petersen back in the day were quick to point out that his board was in no way, shape, or form a "hull."

True enough, but it did have some key elements of a short hull. It was under 6' long. The outline was full. It was a single fin. The tail rocker was relatively straight, with the apex of the nose rocker was set well forward. And it liked being surfed from the middle.

So how should we look at the board used by Petersen during that brief window of time, some 45 years ago? Did it represent some kind of rarefied ideal that hull riders should be looking at today? Or was it a Frankenstein mish-mash of conflicting ideas only a surfer with the strength and talent of MP could utilize?

The answer is totally subjective.

For me, with size 9 feet and average talent, flat bottom stubbies had to be ridden off the tail and forcefully pushed from rail to tail. The same outline, with a displacement hull, could simply be "urged' to bank over from forward trim. I preferred the latter then, and still do.

Around 2001, Michael Petersen was coaxed out of retirement to create some shapes inspired by his Morning Of The Earth board. I don't know how loyal they were to the original, but based on what we can see, it looks like Petersen put out a serious effort.

5'9'' x 20''

1 comment:

Quiver said...

If you take this template, belly the nose and have it flat from mid-point to the tail with hard rails out the tail, it would look to me like a stand-up Velo. Without the benefit of flex, of course.