Seems like this winter will never end. Snow storms, water temps hovering around 35 degrees and some great waves. I can do without the first two characteristics of winter but the last is what Jersey surfers wait for. The tough part about winter waves is the beating that you often take seeking that hollow tube or trying to make that overhead air drop. So I thought this is a good time to talk about a classic board shape that most of today's surfers have a tendency to overlook. It is inspired by the Ben Aipa "stinger" shape, with a swallowtail and wings cut-in about 1/3 of the way up the board. It is also a single fin with lots of volume up front--this board is simply a classic.
I have recently become enamored with early to mid-1970s surfboard design that created what is often referred to as transition boards. I recently rode a 1970 Bing Glass Slipper that was a blast and from there I was hooked. (More on this board in a future post, since Matador is creating a similar shape that will be ready to order for this summer.) The Aipa Stinger comes about a little later (mid-1970s) but it was a transformative board because of both its design and its riders. Think Larry Bertlemann, Buttons Kaluhiokalani, and Michael Ho--surfers that redefined style for the entire surf industry. I still love watching the old videos of these guys, dragging their hand along the wave, feet tucked close together, and absolutely ripping. Now I can't take the Matador Gringo (pictured above) to the level of these guys, or anything even closely resembling it, but it does make my winter surf sessions that much more enjoyable.
Let's look at some of the key design features. First, the forward volume gives you the ease of paddling. If you haven't noticed yet, this is a must in almost all my boards. If you can't catch the wave, you can't surf the wave and when things get steep and nasty on a Jersey winter day this feature is absolutely key. And I know that I have said this before but don't be afraid of going bigger! The picture below is a little pre-winter session on a smaller Gringo. It was a great board but then the owner of Matador put me on the one pictured above (6'10"x22"x2 7/8") and it was fabulous. I got into every wave early, quick down the line and the board just kept gliding. Doesn't matter if it is thigh high or overhead, the board just goes. Second, you have the winged tail that makes for those quick maneuverable turns that you see Bertelmann and others performing. Loose but smooth seems to be what this tail gives its rider. Add to that a single fin with the swallowtail and the board just oozes style. I am sure I don't look as cool as I feel, but damn if I don't just feel more stylish when on this board.
And remember, surf for fun! I guarantee this board will help with that last bit of advice.