Sunday, February 10, 2013

Matt Shapes a Race Board

This is a celebration of shapers....pros and amateurs all board sports.

Our buddy Matt decided to shape his own SUP race board recently.  He has a carpentry and surfing background, hails from southern California, and has been SUP racing about as long as I have.  

I'm very fascinated and impressed by folks who do board shaping.  Definitely looks like more of an art than a science.  I don't have the patience to do it myself but enjoy seeing how other people do it, including DW's builds.  Watching my dad build sailboats over the years, including the last one that took him three years to build, gave me a whole new appreciation for the patience and skills it takes to take an idea and turn it into something that performs on the water.  In my many years of windsurfing and SUP experience, I've formed opinions on various board characteristics like the length, width, tail shape, rocker, etc.   So I could tell someone what kind of board I'd want shaped.  Joe Bark and I collaborated on the race board he shaped for me based on my SUP skills, experience, the conditions I would be paddling and racing in, and certain characteristics I really wanted.  Just don't get me in the shaping room to do it myself.

This is Matt's first board and he's already talking about how he would change the next one based on his learning experience with this one.  That's what good board shapers do - trial and error, lots of testing, and back to the shaping room for changes and improvements.  I can't wait to see what Matt comes up with next.

The following is the sequence of photos sprinkled with some of Matt's comments as he sent them to me between late October and early January, culminating with the Cold Stroke Classic race on January 19th on this board. 


Matt: "I still have to change the tail and may shave off the "cheekbones" I intentionally placed just forward of footwell. Getting close to be ready for glass."


 Matt: "Thank goodness for 2 sons.  I laminated the glass coat on the top of the board today and if not for the boys I would have jacked up all my hard work. 14' of board with concave deck is probably not a good idea for a 1st time attempt at glassing.  The bottom I did by myself(another poor idea).  If I didn't have Nick to mix and pour epoxy and Andrew to help spread it would have gotten ugly.  And that is in a garage in mid 60's.  Too cold for a real glasser.  Tomorrow the hot coat and hope to get gloss coat on by Christmas day."

Matt: "I did make a major design error on amount of glass layers. The board is 34 lbs (good) but it has much more flex than I anticipated. It will be a great flat water board but after trial run today I will be hesitant to take it in rough conditions."

Matt: "She paddles really smooth. The bow was designed to cut the water and also to help track straight since it is so square it is always in contact with water. In that respect it did exactly what I had planned. It tracks really straight. Definitely much better glide than the 12-6 Hobie. But the problem is the flex. I only placed one layer of 6 oz E cloth on each side with one extra layer for deck patch. It feels a little bit like a trampoline if you bounce on it. When just paddling as hard as you can on flat water it is not an issue. But very concerned for when conditions are rough and choppy. I don't know if it will just flex and not break or.........  Overall very pleased with everything. It rides low in the water because it is only 4-3/4 thick at thickest section and tapers thinner to rear. Would definitely make changes if I was going to do it again.  But hindsight is 20-20.  I only had $735 in materials invested so nothing to cry about."

I'd love to hear more stories from others about the very first board they ever shaped and the lessons they learned over time as they continued to shape.

If anyone out there has any comments, suggestions, or questions for Matt, leave them here and I'll help get them answered or he'll answer you directly here.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Kids Love Snow

Kids love snow.  We were at Snowshoe, WV a couple weekends ago with our very good friends, Greg & Charmaine and their kids.  And it was cold....really cold.  Wind chill of zero during the day cold.  Absolutely bone-chilling wind at night.  And the kids were champs.  We all skied 3 days, and although there were some cold toes and fingers, there were really no complaints and everyone had a great time.  It snowed a foot over the course of those 3 days and other than the cold and wind, the ski conditions were pretty good.  Of course, the morning we departed, it was sunny blue sky and low 30s...perfect for skiing.

It had been a couple of years since the kids had been skiing.  They understandably started out a little rusty the first day, but after that they were zipping around and skiing mostly in control.  We parents spent most of the 3 days skiing with the kids and going at their pace.  We were able to break away and get a few turns on our own here and there, including on the southeast's best slope, Cupp Run, a 1.5 mile black diamond that was Snowshoe's very first trail when they opened in the 70s.  I've been skiing at Snowshoe since the late 80s, and that trail still rocks when the conditions are good.

The GoPro Hero 3 camera performed like a champ and I was able to capture the fun without worry of the cold ruining the camera.  You can see in this video and the pics, it's all about the kids having fun.  Good times with friends and family on and off the slopes.  Another family adventure in the books.