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10/23/2009  — 

Shopping for Used Surfboards

I put some notes together for a friend who is starting to look at surfboards on Craigslist. He's a beginner looking for something to ride while learning.

Maybe these tips will help you too? Here's what I like to do when I look at a used surfboard.

  • It's hard to tell how big a board is in a picture. Make sure you get dimensions and those dimensions fit your body & style of surfing.
  • Look at the fins, leash plug, and rails. Look for cracks that might be open.
  • If you find a crack or a repaired ding, squeeze it a bit to see if there are soft spots nearby (to tell if it's waterlogged).
  • If the board is a single-fin or a 2+1, look at the part of the big fin that would touch the ground. If the ground-facing tip is chewed up, one of the last owners may have been a little careless with where they put the board down.
  • If the board is a 2+1, make sure those little sidebite fins are solid. If they're removable (usually with a hex wrench), see if the bolts are rusty. If they're glassed-on, just do the crack check.
  • Make sure that the water-side of the board is smooth. This is the side you'll be sliding on. Dings, dents, bumps won't help you too much.
  • Pick it up to see if it's reasonably balanced (some patches can be really heavy and throw off the board balance).
  • Look from the tail toward the nose (and vice-versa). Sometimes you'll see a twist in a board. If you see something, ask about it.
  • See if there's a serial number on the board (handy for tracking history).
  • Of course, ask where the seller got it. Get the whole story of the board. This will come in handy at some point.
  • Ask the seller where he/she surfed it. What worked, what didn't? Why are they unloading it? What will they be surfing next?
  • Look for known shapers and brands. Bonus points are always awarded for investing in local shapers. These will all help with resale.

Sometimes a board will have some problems and it's just worth picking it up anyway. Sometimes the board looks great, but it's just a dud once it gets into the water. If you get stuck with a dud, you'll learn something.

What do you like to do when shopping for new gear?

09/28/2009  — 

Story of a Surfboard: SF Green Ten-Footer

Like all my boards, this one came to me via Craigslist. Unlike the rest, this green 10-footer is a magic board. The 'magic board' is a special match-up between the traits of a surfboard and the style/strength of its surfer. Swaylocks is loaded with posts about magic boards.

I found the ad on CL while I was travelling. A quick email and call to a friend arranged a pickup. J & J completed the transaction for me. They met the seller at his house in SF who told them that he had used the board for tandem surfing. He was leaving SF and didn't want to bring the board along. J & J squeezed it into their hatchback (somehow) and brought it over when I got back to town.

The brand is SF, a small board-making operation and surfshop in San Francisco. It's a sweet-looking board: Nice green tint, 10' x 23" x3.5", triple-stringer, big fin in the finbox. Big, round rails and lots of volume. Kinda heavy though: lots of glass. When it gets into a wave, it really screams down the line. I've taken it to Linda Mar on small days, Ocean Beach on big days: the board works amazingly well in all conditions. Magic.

A few years back, I experienced a mishap. I paddled out at Linda Mar for a rare midweek after-work session. The waves had some energy and the paddle out took timing and paddle-energy. One incoming wave brought a surprising payload toward me: some hairy dude mis-timed his duck dive and ended up catching the wave backwards. The dude's fin jammed into and cut through the nose of my board. Sure, better the board than my shoulder or neck -- still I had a hole about 'that big' in my heart. Would this kill the magic?

I took the board up to the SF surf shop for repairs. Let John Schultze the board's maker fix it and it'll be good as new. John did a great job with it. When I picked up the board, he remembered making it. We talked about it a bit:

John: "Have you tried it in Bolinas? I made it for that wave."

Me: "Why yes, I have. In fact this board seems to really sing on the waves at Bolinas. It's a perfect match."

Me: "Can you make me an EXACT replica? 3-stringers, single-fin, resin tint? that and the magic. Don't leave out the magic. Oh yeah -- and a tail-block."

John: "Nope. Can't work with giant blanks like that anymore."

Me: gasp! "Then I better take care of this thing."

Today, the board is mostly watertight. Lots of little dings and spider-cracks put this thing at risk for getting waterlogged and eventually destroying it (not to mention hairy dudes who can't duckdive). Each year around my birthday I wax this thing up and drag it up to Bolinas for some magic.

Bottom and tail
Bottom
Deck
Detail of the scar on the nose
More scar
Dimensions

I meant to post a rocker-shot too, I'll do this later.

The deck has the dimensions and says 'For Scott at Ocean Beach'. Who is Scott? Why did he sell the board? What's he surfing now?

09/05/2009  — 

Dings With Stories

I found some wisdom on the bing forum while collecting some info on my surf board. Tom points out that dents and dings are part of each board's story while steering someone away from a restoration project:

"How much more would it be worth restored? Well, some people might pay more if you just left it as is, in its original condition. Every ding is part of its story, it's history. I once asked Dr. Ding to fix the only ding in one of my vintage Bings and he said I should leave it cuz it might be where David Nuuhiwa dropped his can of beer. Cool! You never know."

The full post is over on the big forum site.

Logo   from my Bing

It's true, you never know unless you can ask at least! Some are like scars from childhood adventures: a mark on the dining room table where my dad put a hot sparkler when he was a kid. Those buckle-rash scratches on that guitar I bought used: wonder what happened there? What stories do you have?

In the next few weeks, I'll put a few posts together about my surfboards and the stories behind each one.