The Daily Driver

Building a quiver is fun. There’s nothing I like more than geeking out over surfboards and daydreaming about the future waves I’ll get on a shape. Out of all of these boards the most important board in any quiver though is the daily driver. The daily driver should be the board that works and that you use for the largest range of wave sizes. Like from waist high to overhead wide range.

I find many people with mega-quivers have many boards that overlap in this range, and I feel like they often have board-decision angst when they could have a lot less stress if they simply found a good daily driver. Although shapers are probably not a fan of it, I’m a proponent of the minimalist quiver but even people who love to have 10 or 20 or more boards would be best served by having a good, versatile, and fun daily driver.

My surfing is better when I have less choice and am “forced” to use a single board in a wide range of conditions. Since I’m not a pro, I also do better on something that is familiar. I’m more apt to try more radical maneuvers when I know exactly how a board is going to react.

My current daily driver, a 5-10 Bonzer 3 by Danny Martinez. Looking nice and worn in with a bunch of dirty wax and the requisite pressure dents on the deck

What functions as your daily driver is going to depend on where you live and what kinds of waves you surf daily. In my area, the best kind of daily driver is one of the stubby high performance shortboards that are so popular nowadays. Relaxed rocker, some extra width, and a little bit of extra thickness can do wonders for the low end of the wave size range and won’t hurt you when it gets head high. Obviously, if you live in Hawaii, Indo, or somewhere else with good waves your requirements are going to be different but the key is to be able to find a balance in the design aspects of the board that gives you the ability to ride it in a large variety of conditions.

The best thing about a daily driver is when you find one that is perfect and becomes that magic board that we all look for. The dimensions, planshape, and fin setup will be different for everyone but that is for you and your shaper to figure out.

The Minimalist Quiver

I’m the first to admit that my surfboards are on a revolving door in and out of the quiver, but as I get older I’m finding that my surfing is simply better with a minimalist quiver.  A minimalist quiver is having around three boards to work in all conditions.  Now, there are other people who can get by with a single board but where’s the fun in that?  However, not having too many choices makes my surfing better as I get many more sessions on a board.  I get a better feel for the intricacies of a board, and I become a better surfer on it.  Obviously I’m not a pro but I’m here to help average people like me out.

For my area, here are the only three boards you need

  • Longboard
  • Daily Driver Shortboard
  • Step Up Shortboard

Many people would rather put a groveler shortboard in the bottom position for myriads of reasons, but there is a certain point where the waves are so small that only a longboard will work, no matter how good a groveler is. 

The daily driver is the most important board in your quiver, its the board you’ll use from waist high to just overhead.  If your home break is in NCSD like mine, this can be a grovel shape but I find stubby HPSBs work the best for me.

Lastly is the step up.  This is that board that you count on when it gets heavy.  The last few years here have been so poor wavewise that I haven’t needed one and have sold them off, but I sure wish I had one last week.  Free tip of the day: don’t sell your step up for a grovel board during the doldrums of summer.

Personally, I like to have a 4th board in my quiver.  This spot is usually held by an alternative shape such as a hull or keel fish or a true grovel board.  This is great for when you just want to get weird.

The minimalist quiver is all you really need to have fun every time you surf.  If I had unlimited money I would build a minimalist quiver for every spot I surfed, meaning I’d have four boards per spot, but that’s not realistic for me.

Bonzers


Rob Machado in Chile on this board

I’ve always been interested in Bonzers and had fun on the too-big-for-me Bumblebee that I had a few years ago. It was too big and retro for me to really put it through its paces but I was able to experience the 5th gear, and the 5th gear is what people most often mention about Bonzers.
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However, there are also some myths that people hold about Bonzers, and the one I hear the most is that they only work in steep/good waves. After spending all of fall and winter on my Dannowar 5-10 Bonzer 3 I can tell you from personal experience that they will work in any conditions.  You just have to use good judgement on planshape, foil, and rocker like you do on any other fin setup.

Like the aforementioned 5th gear, the main thing that Bonzers are all about is speed.  However, there is much more to them than just speed.  They have the drive and hold of a thruster combined with the loose feeling of a twin.  The best way I’ve heard it described is “levitation.”  The bonzer setup works perfectly for me.  I keep getting speeds that surprise me while being able to hit high gravity turns that I’ve always had trouble with when I was primarily riding quads.  I’ve always liked the turns I’ve been able to do on a thruster, but hated how I had to work for speed when compared to a quad or a twin.  A Bonzer solves this problem.  Surprisingly, a Twinzer has the most comparable feeling, albeit without the top end speed

I know of people that have Bonzer-only quivers, and although I’ll continue to mix it up with some other setups here and there my boards for daily driver waves on up are going to be Bonzers.  There’s just no feeling like it.


Taylor Knox in Mexico on this board

Sometimes Stoke Just Happens

Right now, a decent wintertime NW swell is hitting the North Pacific.  Hawaii and California are firing and I’m stoked.

I like to pride myself as a bitter, jaded surfer that hates crowds, GoPros, kooks, SUPs, etc. but the surf and recent experiences within “surf culture” are just causing me to be happy and excited.  Stoked.

There are scenes like this repeating themselves up and down the California coast, wetsuit technology and flexible working hours have turned winter into the new summer, the swell started in earnest on a national holiday, and my last two sessions weren’t exactly mind-blowing.  The local news is making this HH on average swell seem like its the winter of 82/83 when this is just a normal winter swell and I ordered my 6-1 too late in order to have it for this swell.  Get off my lawn.

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However:
1.  I sold a board to a really cool guy who I later ran into randomly taking our kids to a movie.  We were able to have a good talk and he could be a buddy instead of just someone I sold a board to.  That makes me stoked.2.  I finally got to meet Barry Snyder, get a tour of his factory, and order a Hitchcock grovel board that is going to be killer.  Barry does all aspects of board production in-house, by hand, by himself.  He’s a fountain of surfboard knowledge and all in all an awesome guy.  That makes me stoked.
3.  My friend’s brother-in-law is visiting from Costa Rica and is getting a taste of what California winter should be like.  That makes me stoked.
4.  I’m getting texts and seeing InstaFaceTweets from so many people that are scoring.  That makes me stoked.
5.  I’m surfing everyday and there is no end in to the waves in the near future.  There’s a possibility of getting surfed out on the horizon.  That makes me stoked.

Even though there are many reasons why some people have a glass half-empty view there are always better reasons to have a glass half-full view.  Surfing is so important to me and my well-being that honestly it pisses me off sometimes, its good when nature brings everything together to remind us of the reason we surf.  Fun.

Guns

Pictures from Surfy Surfy

Guns are by far the most beautiful of all surfboards, especially when they are shaped by Chris Christenson and airbrushed by Peter St. Pierre.  Everything about them is hyperbolic; the basic dims look like something on a noserider but the curves and points show the serious business they are designed for.  Even though many aspects of the modern gun are state-of-the-art, their DNA is more closely linked to the halcyon days of the late 50s and 60s on the North Shore than any other surfboard.

Looking at the famous Greg Noll at Pipeline picture, you can see that the gun has narrowed the nose slightly, but retains most of the same ideas

I would love to own a gun, especially a CC like the ones shaped for Rusty Long and Ian Walsh above, but I know I will never surf in waves that require a board like those.  I love to push myself in waves that are past my comfort level but even with the right equipment a 20′ wave is going to be so far past my comfort level I would equate the comfort to being something like flaming underwear.

I have so much respect for the big wave guys, especially now that the trend has swung past towing in and back to 9, 10, 11, and even 12 and up feet of surfboard.  It seems like this next week may give the Northeastern Pacific some memorable waves, both for the amazing gun riders in at the big wave spots and the regular joes like me with our subpar and crowded spots.

Now lets hope Ian and Rusty don’t snap these things yet

Bizzaro World

The water is as cold as it gets south of Pt. Conception, the air temp is hotter than summer, and the waves are actually good. I don’t know what kind of climate change is causing these Santa Anas to come during the dead of winter but I love it.

In fact, I’m getting enough good days surfing in I think it may be time to break this stuff out more in better waves
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Let’s hope this keeps up

We Have Waves

Thanks to retodd for the pics

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Fun sessions yesterday and today.  The only problem with this swell is the big tide swings which are causing lots of annoying rips.  Life is good right now with waves and playoff football.  I’m not looking forward to early spring when the ocean goes to shit and the only thing to watch on TV is basketball.

At least we have this to look forward to

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Board Review- 9-0 Velzy by Jim Phillips

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This is going to be the first review of a board that I wasn’t super stoked on. It was offered to me in trade for my Christenson Cafe Racer.  Due to the fact it was volan, resin tint, pinlined, and shaped by Jim Phillips under the Dale Velzy label, I thought it was a good trade for me.  Even though I had the 8-2 Hot Generation that would function as my “longboard” I thought it would be fun to have this as well.

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The board had a lot of aspects I like in a longboard; 50-50 rails, belly, and a single fin.  The only concern I had on first seeing it was the narrowish tail, but the overall flow of the board looked OK.  What ended up being a problem for me was the rocker, there was simply too much of it.  I ended up surfing it a few times and it could do everything I needed a longboard to do; noseride, left-go-right, small waves, etc but the with the rocker and the narrow tail it would have really be good as a step-up longboard.  Now I like longboards and longboarding but make no mistake, if the waves get good I’ll be riding a shortboard so I simply had no need for step up longboard.

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I put this thing up for sale and it went to a good home up in Santa Cruz and also gave me an excuse to go up there and visit.  There are certainly waves up there that call for a step-up longboard so it has a good home.  It was good to ride a board that has the DNA of two legendary shapers but it also proved the fact to me that just because the shaper is legendary it doesn’t mean that it is the right board for you.

Overgunned or Undergunned?

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I originally asked this poll with a myopic Southern California view in mind, and my answer was 100% undergunned.  The impetus for this thought came from going out to a session on a 5-10 stub bonzer planning on medium sized waves and getting down the cliff and seeing it was way, way bigger on the sets.  I had a fun session and was only flicked into oblivion once.  My initial thoughts were that getting the tweeners and the smaller set waves were more fun than having to wait for the bigguns.  I also get so annoyed at the folks who decide to bring out guns (not step-ups, but GUNS) to local point breaks when its just overhead that the undergunned thing was a bit of a dick swinging contest.

After getting the results of this poll and further comments from the people, I not only forgot about my roots up in Northern California but completely didn’t think about beyond this state to the more serious waters beyond.  After reading the comments of the people I agree with them that I’d much rather be overgunned.  There are so many reasons why.

1. Paddle power when a lot of water is moving
2. Long lines that only a longer rail line can draw
3. Getting in early
4. Simply having more fun

Let’s face it, not many of us our Kelly Slater and we’re not going to be paddling out 5-10s at Pipe.  Now, I’m still splitting hairs here over the choice between something like a 5-10 and a 6-1 (for someone in my weight range) and talking about Southern California waves, but this same mode of thought can be applied to places that have waves of consequence.  The wave of course matters as well, if you’re surfing a beach break outside of town in NorCal, you’d rather be overgunned while being undergunned would probably be more fun on the points inside of town there.

I mess up my board choices sometimes and probably should be throwing more than one board in the car per session.  However, if the forecast says its going to be good and you’re wavering between that DD and that better-wave board, throw that better-wave board in the car.  You’ll most likely end up having fun and that’s what we’re ultimately out here for.