Step 1- Give your block of foam over to your glasser. Watch foam get put in a pile, loaded in a truck, and moved to the glassing shop.
Step 2- When the glasser posts a workshop picture, assume every board that’s even remotely the color you asked for is yours. Freak out when you see even a hint of it in the background.
Step 3- Shamelessly talk about step 2 on twitter as a passive aggressive hint that you’d really like to see photos. Freak out when you get one. OMG OMG OMG OMG.
Step 4- Wait for glasser to post finished pics. Adjust expectations along with instagram filters. Freak out that it’s done and not be able to sleep wanting to go pick it up.
Step 5- Go get it!!! But maybe make sure they don’t close early that day cause you’ll show up to a locked door after racing across town after work and completely freak out (in the bad way, not the good way you’ve been freaking out all along.) Thankfully someone’s waiting for you to pick it up so it all works out. YAY.
Step 6- Take several thousand pictures and post them to the internet. Eventually stop before you drive everyone crazy, but have fun. (This step is optional and is based on how much freaking out you’ve done. OMG YAY)
Step 7- Surf!
Thanks everyone at Sunset Shapers. This has been an absolutely blast.
If anyone is looking to learn more about shaping, or just wants a new board and can’t make up their mind, I highly recommended their shaping class. You get a sweet new board and you’ll have a lot of fun making it.
Back when Sunset Shapers opened, I recalled reading on their site about shaping lessons. I filed that bit of info away in the “Oh man, I’d love to do that” archives.
Just before Christmas, they had a coupon for lessons via Facebook. I got one, hoping it would finally get me to move shaping lessons from the “I want to do that” column to the “I’m totally doing that” column.
I had a little chat with James about what I wanted to make. The options came down to a proper noseriding longboard and a fish. Feeling like I’d get more use out of the fish in local waters (or on trips) I went fish.
The classes are divided up into two 3 hour sessions.
The first session is about the blank, the tools, the shaping room, the process of removing the outer “bark” from the blank, using the surform to smooth everything down, deciding on templates, measuring, measuring again, trimming the extra foam off.
Gordon was great. He answered all my questions. He walked through everything and was happy to share info.
We started here
A 6’5 blank. Nice and wide for fish.
We measured here:
Overall board length: 6’4
Width 1ft from the nose: 15 3/4″
Wide point: 21″
Width 1ft from the tail: 16″
We round a combination of templates that made a smooth transition between all the points of measurement.
The act of shaping is all about creating a craft with smooth flowing, lines through smooth, flowing strokes. The template needs to flow so the water can flow, right?
Tim reminded me of this scene:
At the end of the day, we had a square railed, fish shaped block of foam:
Day 2 was all about the finesse. Bottom contours, rail shape, tail details, nose details, basically everything that gives this board it’s character.
We started with lots and lots of passes with the surform to trim the board down to the thickness we wanted (2 3/4″) I got to do a lot of this work (since it was harder to mess up, ha) and was getting the hang of using the surfom correctly.
Here’s Gordon trimming down the stringer so I can do more surform passes on the bottom:
Next we worked on the bottom concave. Single to double concave. This took lots of very small movements, checking and rechecking the depth, and plenty of eyeballing.
So much of this is by feel or by sight that Gordon had me look at things in progress so I could see what it looked like if one side was less concave than the other, then showed me how to fix it. We did this with the stringer too, I’d look to see where the stringer was too flat, then Gordon would get it nicely into a smooth shape again.
It was really interesting to see how everything evolves. The board isn’t ruined if there’s a little more foam here, it is still in progress and can be brought back into check (within reason, you obviously can’t add foam back in.) The point being, every stroke or step doesn’t have to be perfect, but the change has to be slow and symmetrical so that the finished board is perfect.
I had so many questions answered. So many thing I thought maybe were aesthetics, actually had real reasons behind them. Like the swallow tail, there rails on the tail are very square on one side and rounded on the top, allowing the water to release under the board for speed and turns, but hold over the top to keep the board in the face nice and snug for more control.
Rail work was super delicate. Gordon did all of that work. I mostly said “yup, that’s even” or “looks a little rounder on this side”
The finished board:
Next steps: cutting fin boxes, cutting the leash plug, and glassing!
This part’s really exciting. I don’t get to sit in on it, but I’ve done a ton of sketching, holding boards, and talking to James about options. I sketched so many MANY options, dozens at least, before settling on this guy:
Now to wait for James to do his magic.
I highly recommend this class to anyone who wants to know more about what goes in to hand shaping a board or anyone who wants to be able to better read how a board will perform. It’s a great class.
I’d love to shape another board. Gordon said the best way to do it is to find a board I want to copy, bring it in, and book some time with him of James to help. They’d leave me to do more of the work myself and help guide in the hard parts.
This article got me thinking. I’ve spent the last year struggling with my surfing, mostly struggling with fear. I took a few pretty good beatings last winter. One where my ears ached, where all I could see was dark water. One where I gasped at the surface only to suck in foam. More than one where I felt lucky to be all right.
I’m not sure if it was the size of the wave, the character of the break, or the fact that I was being drug through the wash by my longboard, but it felt like an eternity under water.
I don’t have the most confidence in my lungs. I’ve had asthma on and off. I get barking coughs with the slightest colds. Having my lungs tested by brute force was a bit terrifying. Sure, I made it through the hold downs from last winter, but part of me wonders if I could make it through the next. That part of me pulls out of waves I should have made. That part of me sits too far outside for my little board. That part of me is frustrating the heck out of the rest of me.
This class seemed like exactly what I needed.
There are much better articles about what you’ll learn from Hanli’s class, including this one by Cynthia. I’ll spare you the lecture (it’s better first hand anyway) and summarize what I learned instead.
Hanli teaches you an amazing amount about what your body does to survive under water. She focuses on yoga, relaxation, the mechanics of the dive reflect, and some swimming intervals. I highly recommend reading up on it and catching her class if you can.
From this class I learned I have a much greater capacity to hold my breath under water than I thought. I managed to go two minutes before I started having diaphragm contractions (the first hurdle one much get over in holding their breath.)
My first attempt was cut short by my typical roadblock: the mind game. I went through the breathing exercises. I waited fro Hanli’s go ahead, then took a big breath, belly, chest, and shoulders. I flipped over and waited. Maybe a minute or less, I started feeling like I had to swallow. Crap. There’s no good way to swallow in a dive mask. Now I’m thinking about swallowing. I’m thinking about how I’m laying face down in a pool. I’m wondering how long it’s been. I’m distracted and I’ve already started to fret. I gave up. I didn’t even get the time from Hanli. Shoot.
My second attempt I worked much harder on the mental aspect of it. I watched the seabirds fly overhead while doing my breathing exercises and tried to keep that image in mind while floating face down. This attempt went much better. Again, I didn’t get a time, Hanli said later it was about 2 and a half. Wile it may have been closer to 2:20 and certainly the shortest out of the whole class, it’s sill much longer than I’ve been able to hold my breath (while counting, who knows how long I was down on some of those waves.)
The interval training kicked my butt, I should probably start lap swimming, but overall I left the course with greater confidence. I now know that if I can stay calm I can last about two minutes. Hopefully I won’t have to.
Even with the class, I’m still struggling with fear. Even telling myself it’s going to be okay, I’m still feeling like there’s a big bubble of air in my gut and I can’t breathe. I’ll take some work. Hanli sent us homework to do to keep in breath-holding shape and I’m hoping to keep practicing the yoga exercises.
The greatest challenge will be the head game. Still, it’s nice to know I’ve got a little lung power on my side.
At a year I had a few tears, but overall was plenty toasty. At two years I have bigger tears (didn’t quite get around to fixing them) but still plenty toasty.
Here’s the rundown: Suit: I-Evade 4-3-4, Hooded. Small-Tall. Purchased: Feb 2011 Session surfed: ~220-250 (or about $2 a surf) Care: Almost none. Rinsed if off after surf when I could. Often dried in the sun hanging off my car.
5’10, 150lb, female. I surf 2-4 times a week, early mornings before work. I just wear one suit rather than rotate suits in and out.
Note for other women: They’ve put the women’s line on hold. If you can fit into a men’s I’d still recommend this suit. If you can’t, well, don’t hold your breath for a women’s line Things to watch for with fit: thighs/hips. The chest seems roomy enough but the lower body is less forgiving.
Still good! I’m still nice and warm and I can get the suit on and off much easier than when it was new. I usually wear the hood to protect my ears, but I can skip boots most days.
Overall, the suit is in decent shape structurally. There are cosmetic things here and there (the chevrons are a bit peeled and the logo has seen better days) but almost all of the seams are in great shape. The shoulders are still in nearly the same shape as when I bought the suit.
Where the suit needs repairs is primarily in the knees and the inner leg seams.
I’d highly suggest pulling the suit up as high as you can in the legs. Too low and the legs shift slightly while you’re surfing. I worn a hole in the neoprene just above my right knee pad and the left inner thigh seam has torn almost completely. I’m not sure if this is because the thighs are cut for men or just all around too tight. The seam along the butt did not degrade any further than it had a year ago, but if I get around to taking this suit in for repairs, I’m certainly going to repair that.
The 3 mil neoprene and the neoprene in the shoulders started to get a little thready. This has reduced the warmth a little bit. Back in October I felt a little chilly sitting in the water for the first time since I first picked up the suit. The suit is meant for you to be moving around a fair amount, but even then, this was the first time where I felt cold.
One of the ankles flushed around that same time, and was also the first time that had happened (at least when I wasn’t doing something completely stupid like going over the falls.) I imagine there’s a little bit of stretching that’s happened in the cuffs, but no tearing.
The suit also stopped drying as fast as it did in its shiny new days. When it was new it’d be dry by lunch, now it occasionally has damp cuffs the next morning.
Wearing a suit every single session is pretty hard on it. I’d say this suit has held up well given the use and abuse I’ve dished out. A cheaper suit might get you 4 years, but no suit I’ve worn has been as light or as warm as this one.
I’m still very happy with the Isurus i-evade. In fact, I bought a second back in September. Now that it’s cold, I’m using that as my primary suit and this suit as a backup. I was going to wait till the first suit was in tatters, but with the break in at Aqua, I figured I’d give them my business and get one early.
A few notes about the new suit: they changed the chest entry to make it easier to get on. This lets in a little more water, but not a considerable amount. I noticed it more bodysurfing than stand up surfing. Also, the elastic that cinches the hood pulled out on mine. The hood is tight without it, but I’ve got a full ponytail wedged up under there.
Other than that, it’s warm, it doesn’t flush, it’s light, and it dries lightning fast. Everything I’d expected.
I’m trying to be kinder to the new suit. I rinse it after every session and have not dried it in the sun at all. I’m hoping this will help the suit last longer.
So there you go: Two years in and it’s not too shabby.
Tired of boardshort rash and tramstamp sunburn from my short/rashguard combo, I decided to give the very stylish Seea suits a try. I picked up a Waterstripes Swami’s Playsuit off their site and tossed it in my boardbag bound for mexico.
The short version of my review: I love this suit!
The long version: I love this this suit even though it has a few tiny hangups.
A few stats:
I’m about 5’10 and about 150. I ordered a medium and a large, the large fit perfectly.
The water was around 90° and the sun was about as unforgiving as it gets.
Surfed about 3-5 hours a day. Even bodysurfed in it.
This suit did exactly what I’d hoped. No trampstamp sunburn and no horrible chaffing from my board shorts. (My previous boardies were fancy pants a “no chafe” men’s pro model that shredded my legs. One of my guy friends mentioned that it wasn’t your legs those board shorts are looking out for, but your balls. Great. Gotta love men’s gear.) My upper thighs did get pretty sunburned the first day or two, but it was a huge relief not to have seams cutting into me.
As far as warmth, I was cooking in the 90° water, but I’m sure they’d be fine in water in the 70′s. The shorts are lined and the top has enough coverage that it should keep warm in semi-tropical destinations. I’d still wear a bikini underneath both to make it easier to hop in and out, yay more boob support, and because the top is clingy (like any other rashie.)
Comfort: Totally comfy. Cuteness: A-freaking-dorable Style: Tons. I half joked that with the retro superhero style and my retro singlefin shorties, I might just rip a hole space/time and fall into the late 70′s surf scene.
The nitpicks: I only had two tiny little hangups.
One was the zipper. While easy to get in and out of, the zipper isn’t very robust and un-zipped itself while duck diving a shoulder/head high set. When I got outside, I tied the zipper cord to my bikini strap and that seemed to solve the problem. I’m thinking about sewing a little loop or something to it to keep the zipper in place.
The folks at Seea recommended the Hermosa One Piece as it has a tie instead, but I love the look of the Swami’s. I’d prefer the superhero style over the girlie style.
Second: the waterstripes are not exactly colorsafe. The medium I bought had a little bit of color stransfer from the stripes and, as you’ll see from the photo: they faded in the sun.
I’d mentioned it to the Seea folks and they said they’d already addressed the problem with newer fabrics and patterns.
I’m planning to wear this suit till it wears out. It’s a great little suit. I’m not deterred by the zipper or the faded stripes. I’ll probably pick up a second suit if I’m looking at a longer surf trip.
Another plus for Seea, their customer service was just fantastic. I chatted with a few different people in the whole purchasing process and all of them were just lovely. These suits are California made by good peeps.
Ahh Shasta! Warm, saltless water, mud, and wakeboarding.
We camped on an island out in the lake. Just us and some really hungry deer. The first night I scared a deer out of our food box multiple times. It wasn’t the slightest bit scared of me and my RAAAAARRRRing and stomping.
Weather was beautiful. We even had a light thunderstorm Saturday night. It was so nice to fall asleep in my tent to thunder and light right.
I also got in two days of wakeboarding. I haven’t wakeboarded since 2010 so my expectations were pretty low. I managed to get up pretty easy and hang on tight. By the second day I managed to swish down the face of the wake. I haven’t quite figured out this whole crossing the wake thing just yet. Once it gets bumpy I tend to lose it. I made it over once, so there’s a start.
Pretty minimal on the faceplant side of things too.
I get questions about my Isurus all the time. “Those guys are local, right?” “Yup, they’re local” “Is it warm?” “Very warm.” “Is it light?” “Very light.” “Yeah, but how well is it gonna hold up?” “I’ll let you know in a year.”
Now, almost a year later, I can tell you with some confidence how well it holds up.
I-Evade 4-3-4, Hooded. Small-Tall.
About 110-120 sessions over the last year
5’10, 150lbs-ish, Female, Longboarder.
2-4 times a week, mostly dawn patrols, mostly Linda Mar, occasionally Ocean Beach on small days. I typically surf knee to head high waves.
I rinse the suit off quickly at the showers or with a jug of fresh water. I roll into work and toss the suit over my surfboard on the roof rack to dry. It doesn’t get much sun. I rarely wash it properly with soap. It only spends a little bit of quality time in a ball in my backpack, the rest of the time it’s hanging up inside out.
This suit is toasty. I rarely wear the hood. I am hardly ever cold. I went barefoot all summer and only switched back to boots in November. I’ve occasionally gotten chilly if I’m doing more waiting than surfing. It’s light, it’s flexible, it dries fast. It was tricky to get in and out of in the beginning, now it’s old hat. (The exception being putting it on while it’s sopping wet. More than one double session has begun with me swearing furiously in the parking lot.)
Note: For women thinking about buying an Isurus suit: even though it’s currently only available in men’s sizes, this suit fit me perfectly. They are coming out with a women’s line next fall if you’re willing to wait (or are smaller than their XS: 5’4, 125lbs.)
The Good: Amazingly, my wrist and ankle cuffs look brand new. No tearing, no stretching. All of my chest and shoulder seams are watertight. My old RipCurl on its retirement had a half dozen holes along these seams, especially in the back. The plastic fasteners to tighten the hood and the chest are in great shape. I’ve heard other folks say theirs fell off right away. Mine are still attached. The hood itself is also in nearly new shape. Zipper works just fine. The overall quality of the neoprene is still good. Looks good, still stretchy, still warm.
The Busted: The very first thing to break was the little pocket for the key. The loop to attach the key is still there and working fine, but the pocket was ripped open by session 3. Not a big deal, but busted. After carefully checking all the seams for this review, (I’m a little embarrassed to say) I noticed 3 small holes along the seam in the butt/upper leg. These holes look like they might need a little patching. It’s minor, but definitely goes through (and explains why the last few mornings have been a little more brisk than usual.)
The Only Kinda Busted: Kneepads. As a longboarder, I don’t think a wetsuit company can make kneepads strong enough to handle the abuse of kneepaddling on a thickly glassed board. The wear is not terrible, but the pads are getting a little thin and at some point my knees will start to hurt. I replaced my RipCurl partially because it was in tatters at this level of use and partially because it was downright painful to surf in it. Shortboarders probably won’t have this problem.
The Cosmetic: The chevrons on my left arm have started to peel. Right arm is fine. I’ve heard this from more than one person. It seems the first arm you take off shows more wear and tear. I don’t think it effects performance. Some of the 3m neoprene has started getting little threads. I haven’t noticed any other change in the material. There’s a little bit of cracking in the tape around the zipper on the inside from pulling the suit on and off. The seam is still water tight.
The Reported: I didn’t experience this problem, but futuresparky had a few gouges in his neoprene: http://stokereport.com/rant/isurus-wetsuits?feature=_comment#comment-301…
This suit is in solid shape after a year of less-than-delicate care. It’s still warm. It’s still flexible. With a little love, I’d say the suit has another 6-8 months worth of sessions before it’ll be time to retire it. When that time comes, I would be happy to replace this suit with another Isurus.
Bodysurf: Way way WAY overhead with a booking current.
Lots of pretty famous bodysurf folks were in town for the Save The Waves Film festival and the SF premiere of “Come Hell or High Water.” Some SF folks put together a bodysurfing competition to celebrate.
I have to say, it was pretty awesome to see folks like Mark Cunningham bodysurf in person. Looked like everyone was having a heck of a time. The park service had a few sad words about permits and plovers that will hopefully be kinks to work out next year. All around fun morning.
From the time I first saw post-cards of Big Sur, I’d wanted to visit. Like many “someday” ideas, I’d put it off. Oh but I have to work, maybe next month, maybe if I have someone to go with me?
My good friend (and amazing photographer buddy) Katie came to SF for a few weeks to visit. What better time to visit Big Sur than the sunny fall with your talented photographer friend.
It was beautiful. Sure, we did only light hikes and probably visited some of the more travelled paths, but for a first trip to Big Sur I can’t imagine anything better. We walked a number of beaches and cliffs, snacked on scones and trail mix, and enjoyed the scenery.
Part of me wanted to bring a surfboard. Much of the coast there is not meant for surfing, but there are a few spots. I didn’t want to make Katie sit on the beach while I attempted breaks I’d never surfed before, so I thought it best to leave the boards at home.
I did hike out to a little point and watch someone else surf the lonely bit of coast. The sun was bright, the water was clear. The black dot out in the lineup struggled to stay on-peak, but was rewarded with a number of smooth chest high waves. He seemed pretty familiar with the spot and it was a pleasure to watch him surf while snacking on dried fruit on the shore.
Lindsay and I hiked to Alamere Falls for her birthday. The scramble down to the bottom of the falls is a bit tricky so we took the scenic way (7 extra miles, 2 on sand) and were treated to quite the view.
At 14 miles this was probably the longest hike I’ve ever done (I haven’t done many serious hikes) and wow was it pretty. Alamere is one of two waterfalls into the ocean on the California coast and the only one you can hike to the base of.