I’m biased against production boards. Ever since I got my first custom board–which was a Bill Foote 10’10 X 29″–I’ve been a custom board snob. But I’ve been looking at the board Bill himself rides most of the time, and it has really nice exposed carbon on the rails of the last foot of tail. I was surprised to learn that it is a production board made by a company owned by a Japanese friend of Meister Foote. When I heard he had a 9’6″ X 29″ I wanted to try it. Unfortunately Loch Eggers was using the demo, so Bill suggested I try the 10′ X 30″. I wasn’t that excited about such a big board, but I gave it a go. I was surprised that it was quite a bit less stable than my 9’10” X 33″ custom but I liked the board. I have another secret purpose for wanting to look at the board, and though I loved the speed, the smooth turns and the recovery from losing balance, I wasn’t impressed by the stability and started talking about a new custom. Instead Bill said “Try this 10’4″ X 34″. I haven’t tried it myself yet, let me know what you think”.
I thought it might serve my secondary purpose, but surely this would not be a board for me. Even though I’m 245 pounds and 6’2″ I typically surf SUP boards in the mid-eight foot to mid-nine-foot range. I assumed I’d hate the big barge, but I resolved to give it a try. Here’s what I posted about this on the Standup Zone:
All the forecasting tools pointed for a rare good sized evening session. Maui doesn’t have those often, the wind usually builds in the afternoon, but today it was supposed to die about 2:30, which was also low tide, and the swell that peaked at noon would still be 9 feet and about 14 seconds. So yeah, it all came together. When I paddled out the wind was just shifting from light offshore to slightly stronger onshore, but then it swung east and died flat. There were a few closeouts in the mix, but a lot of ridable shoulders as long as you went hard out of the gate and then did your turning and playing once you got out of the danger zone.
The takeoffs on the big waves were steep, with the kind of hanging drops that can sometimes spell “Lawn Dart”. But the board I was on handled them amazingly well.
I made a huge pain in the ass of myself in the lineup raving about this board. It’s a Foote Production 10’4″ X 34″ that I was prepared to hate. I tried the 10′ this morning and found it less stable than my 9’10″X 32″ custom Foote, but it was very fast and oddly I found I could recover from tipping better than on my other boards. It also turned well, but about the same as the 9’10”
So Bill said “Try this 10’4″, I haven’t tried it myself yet, let me know what you think.” I took it with me, but I also had my 9.0 X 33″on the truck so when I decided this 10’4 sucked that I could swap boards and salvage the night.
But what I think is that it’s the most remarkable board I’ve been on in years. Stable as a dock, which is usually bad, because that means it won’t turn. Then I found out on the paddle to the lineup that unlike most larger boards it goes through and over head high breaking waves and whitewater like a hot knife through butter. I punched into waves that I expected to have to kick the board over, and found myself standing on the other side, shocked.
Ok, that’s all just ducky, but it’s going to suck at surfing.
It turns from the nose. It turns hard, hard, hard from the tail, and in the middle it plants the thinned out rails and does high-G banked turns like a formula car. Honestly, I’ve never surfed this well before. The board was always under my feet. I couldn’t out-turn it. I started really hanging my body out, in top turns and cutbacks, and it’s always right there. I raved about it to anyone that would listen. I’m sure they looked at the aircraft carrier under my feet and said “Pono’s lost it”. But I’m in lurve. Great board. Great night.
We surfed from 2:30 until 6:00. I felt like a limp noodle. With the morning session I surfed about five or six hours today. Just before I went in I looked back at the west Maui mountains and the setting sun was shining up through the surf haze and vog, silhouetting the mountains and the valley with gold beams of light shooting up into the clouds. Looked like some over-the-top painter’s idea of heaven. Way too beautiful to be real. I yelled to Boyum so he’d look at it, and we both stood there on our boards like a couple of stoners. I said “You know what this means. This is the kind of thing you see just before you get creamed.” I started looking out at the horizon for the mother of all mackers, but instead I caught a nice big left and rode it halfway to the beach.
I drove home in the twilight, listening to Boz Scaggs and soaking up the twilight and the ocean smell from the crashing waves at Ho’okipa, and the flowers, and I felt like I was stoned, or zoned, or zenned, or something. Perfect night. Amazing board. Bill’s not getting this one back. I’ll keep the demo. This board might have some kind of accidental mojo. I’m sure they’re all really just like this, but I’m not taking any chances.
So after that experience, and another session this morning, I decided to find out what the heck is making this board work so well. I know asking Bill Foote will not be particularly useful. He just mutters something about doing this for most of his life. But something is making this board work so well in so many ways that it doesn’t seem that it should.
After measuring, fiddling, checking the rocker, tracing the rail line, and running a straightedge over the bottom I’ve come to the conclusion that this is one very complicated board. Here’s what I found.
The bottom contour starts fairly flat, even a little convex at the nose,
You can see on my custom 9′ 10″ that the rails are dropped, but they are thicker and they are dropped uniformly so the rails follow the rocker of the bottom
On the production board the rail is much thinner, and the dropped edge shift subtly upwards as it curves toward the nose, following a slightly tighter curve than the bottom rocker.
I’ll get a shot of the rocker later, my wife’s car is in the way of getting to my rocker stick up in the garage loft. But it looks like typical Foote rocker–flattish towards the tail, a little tighter curve in the nose. The reverse scoop of the upper nose is different, haven’t seen that on his boards before. It might be part of the reason the thing knifes through whitewater so well.
So what does this all mean? Well, I’m just guessing, I’m sure more experienced folks will correct my misconceptions, but I think the thinned out rail and the tighter curve of the rail is what makes the thing track so well when you bury the rail in a turn. It’s progressive, the harder you bury the rail, the tighter it turns. I think the V in the tail is why it’s so quick to turn when you step back, but the flat section past the fin keeps it from having that click–click rail-to-rail set that I find so irritating on most boards with V in the tail. The single concave in the nose is why it’s so easy to get out past the logo. I haven’t truly nose-ridden it yet, but I think I will be able to.
Bottom line, it’s fast, handles like a much smaller board, and gets every last bit of stability it’s size has to offer. Remarkable board.