North County Fires

My house is right in between the Poinsettia and Cocos fires.  Luckily we never got close to any kind of evacuations.

The wind was gnarly on my way to work before the fires even started


The Poinsettia fire was burning good to the West


A couple hours later the Cocos fire was burning good to the East

I was at work the whole time.  When Poinsettia Elementary was evacuated they sent the kids to Carrillo.  Since I’m across the street from Carrillo I knew that I didn’t need to rush home with everyone else who was.

Even downtown the smoke was really evident

La Jolla / UTC


Del Mar



Smoke and fires don’t stop people from drinking brews at the pool

On Thursday two of the military helicopters doing water drops landed in my canyon to remove their buckets and fly back to Pendleton. Pretty cool coming over way low

Not Instagrammed, this was how smoky it was on Friday morning. My shirt smelled like I had been camping after a walk with the dog.


Campbell Brothers Bonzer 5 HPSB “Chile Model” – Board Review

Inspired by this Case Study on Surfy Surfy, this is the first custom Campbell Brothers board I’ve ever ordered.  I’ve wanted to get a custom from Malcolm for sometime but something else would always come up.  All the stars aligned this past winter and I was finally able to place an order.

The difference between the Chile model and the Contemporary/Shelter model is that the Chile model takes some cues from the Mini Merk by adding a wider and fuller beak nose.  Otherwise it is not as full as the Mini Merk and has more rocker.  I also specified mine to have foiled out rails.

The board is glassed in the standard Surfy glassing of 5S on both sides with a Volan deck patch.  I never specified what blank but the board feels super light for being a PU/PE with Volan.  The sides are glassed on and I ended up going with the black Hexcore center fin from True Ames.  Since I’m pretty uninformed about paint mixing I wanted to go with a gold color since that is a color you rarely see on surfboards.  It turns out that is not done because it is a really hard color to mix up.  JP suggested a brown/gold that came out pretty awesome.  The coolest thing about it is that the color turns depending on lighting without looking like a fishing lure (which is a bad thing for obvious reasons).  One of the erBBers described this as the Rusty Nail.  Love it.

No logos on deck for stealthy 70s feel and to show off the Volan deck patch

Went with a now-for-something-completely-different logo placement on the bottom

The first thing I noticed on this board besides the aforementioned lightness was how “right” it felt under the arm.  Besides some of my more esoteric boards lately my customs have been feeling just perfect under the arm.  I’d like to say this is from me being a more informed consumer but I think it is more due to the fact that I’ve been working with some amazing shapers.  I got this board for better waves and I was lucky that we were smack dab in the middle of a firing swell when I picked up the board.  I’m not going to lie though, my first two sessions were disappointing and I have no idea why since the waves were good and I had been riding a 3 fin Bonzer all fall and winter.

The first wave I took off on the board I felt out of control for some reason.  It was a HH waves and the board felt like it was going nuts.  I’m sure this was due to a full inch less width than I had been riding and not figuring out foot placement yet.  I kicked/wiped out and felt the leash let go.  I watched in horror as a brand new board went washing into the beach.  I hadn’t double checked the leash string and luckily the board arrived on the beach unharmed.  I was in a time crunch for work that day so by the time I made it up to my car and got a new string in it was time to go.  The next morning I took it out again in the same conditions and the board would just not work for me.  I was feeling like a super kook.  Luckily I had two other Bonzer riders as buddies to give me advice.  The advice was to just take it out and ride it normally on like a waist high day and figure it out.

The next day was just that.  Waist high with great shape and the point/reef I was at was reeling off 50-100 yard rights.  I don’t know what happened but on the first wave the board just clicked for me and I got the Bonzer feeling I had felt before- best described as levitation.  Even though this waist high day was not what I had intended for this board it performed amazingly.  This stoked me out because not only was the board making me rip but it also showed that it had range on the low end and wasn’t some HH-and-above-HPSB that would ruin a session if I brought it to the beach and the waves weren’t doing what they were supposed to.  A Bonzer does not lose speed through its turns like a thruster does, everything is linear and about speed.  That being said, it is not like a keel where your only option is speed and flow, the tail will whip around as easily and as high performance as your skills are capable of.  When I threw (what felt like to this kook) a Taylor Knox style sprayfan on a waist high wave I knew that this board was a keeper.

This board was never intended as a DD, so I feel bad that it has to sit in the garage for so many sessions but on those good days we’ve had in March and April this board hasn’t just performed as I expected but it has blown my mind.  Every time I take it out I do something that I didn’t think I could do.  That’s the mark of a good board.

As I was walking out of Surfy Surfy JP said that its nice to see a Bonzer HPSB since they hadn’t seen one in a while.  Judging how this board works for me, I think everyone should go buy one.

Sold Boards

I was going back through my Photobucket and seeing all of the boards I’ve sold that I haven’t reviewed yet.  The thing that really struck me is that there are so many that I wished I would have kept, or would buy again if I wasn’t such a slave to passing fancies of different shapes and fin configs.  It really makes me wish I had unlimited space to store and unlimited cash to buy surfboards.  If anyone is interested in a more in depth review let me know.

The scariest thing about this is that this is only boards I’ve taken pictures of…. there have been others as well.

5-11 x 19 x 2.5 Cole Twin (MPT)
Fun board that was very HP for a twin.  It worked way better for me with a trailer as it was too loose without.  This is where I finally realized I’m just not a fan of twins

5-8 x 21 x 2.5 Rat single wing swallowtail
This board was kinda weird; I got it in a trade.  It was really short and wide with blocky rails.  I couldn’t find anything on Rat’s site to describe it so I think it was a custom.  Due to the wing and tail I ran it as a twin + trailer but it might have been meant to be a thruster.  It groveled pretty well but I wasn’t really a fan

5-11 x 20.5 x 2 9/16 Oak Foils Twinzer
The first of two Oaks I really should have never gotten rid of.  I sold this off because I acquired another board with the same fin config that felt better under the arm and looked better aesthetically to me but I surfed way better on the Oak.

6-3 x 20 x 2.63 Bulkley double wing swallow tail quad
I got this for a really good deal and proceeded to ride it to death.  Every time the waves got head high or larger I rode this.  It was a couple years old when I got it and even after two years of my abuse I still sold it for more than I bought it for.  I bet this board is still getting ridden

7-6 x ?? x ?? Oak Foils Dyna-glyde
I simply did not give this board a chance.  I got rid of it after one session just because I felt like I was riding a fun board.  I never tried it as single and I guarantee if I wouldn’t have been such a slave to fashion I would have loved it.  I want to get another one of these soon; I just don’t know if I want a “mini” version or a midlength.  I was an idiot for getting rid of this one.

6-2 x 19.75 x 2.5 Coil Widerboard
This was a sick board and was to be my good wave board.  I didn’t want to get rid of this one at all but had some heavy unexpected bills to pay at that time.

5-6 x 19.5 x 2.5 Tomo MPH Nano
Looking back at how much I weighed then and those dims I’m astonished this board worked so well for me.  It made me a believer in Daniel’s theories and tells me that I would ride an MPH or a NextGen even smaller than I think I should now.  I’ll get another Tomo again someday

6-3 x 22 x 2.75 Stamps Hull
Besides the yellow Oak, this is the one board that pains me not to have anymore, sorry I don’t have any better pictures.  I’m not even sure why I sold it.  Idiot.

6-6 x ?? x ?? Bulkley stepup
I bought this for a winter that never came.  This was my first winter down here and I soon realized I don’t need a mid 6′ board pretty much ever in North County.  Maybe if I surfed Blacks more.  It got sold to pay for the Hull above

Board Review- Coil M80

Coil M80
5-10 x 20 x 2.63 1.1 cu ft3
Bump squash tail, 5 fin FCS Fusion setup
2nd Gen Coil construction

A couple caveats on this review: I got rid of this board two years ago.  However I rode it as a daily driver for all of 2011 and only got rid of it when it simply wasn’t getting ridden anymore due to quiver overlap so I remember it well.  I also weighed a lot more then so that’s why it had some bulky dimensions; although I probably should have listened to Mike Daniel when hashing out dims because I think it would have worked better at 2.5 instead of 2.63

This was the only Coil custom I got; I’ve had four Coils I owned including this one.  As I said earlier, I wish I would have listened to Mike and ordered 2.5 instead of 2.63 because he could have gotten the volume I wanted while having less bulk.  Even though this ended up being a daily driver for me for over a year, I believe that the extra bulk is what stopped me from truly loving this board.  I was also in full fin whore mode at this point, so I tried every fin setup I could think of in this board.  Including getting weird a couple times

I never truly found a fin setup that worked well for me on this board, I always felt like the board was too tracky or stiff, but I was trying to throw huge fins at it.  My go-to quad set, the old Mayhem GMBs, worked well but felt a little too loose backside, which sent me on the fin quest.  I learned from this board that once I find something that works to just stick with it and stop experimenting.  If it feels good just stick with it and learn that setup.

The other problem I had with this board, besides my self-induced fin problems, was that sometimes the board felt like it was going to “wheelie.”  Even at the bloated dims I chose the “Coil foil” was still in full, glorious effect.  For those who are unfamiliar with the “Coil foil” it is a tail that is very thin in order to work in concert with the construction to create flex.  The flex at the tail helps in a springboard effect off of turns.  The “wheeling” I was talking about was due to me insisting on 2.63 thickness; the tail was built how it was supposed to but there was just too much foam in the front half for even my then-fat ass to bury the rail correctly.  What ended up happening on this board was that it would sometimes be the best board ever and other times would be frustrating beyond belief.  Bottom line: despite frustrations it was good enough for me to ride as a DD for over a year.

The construction on these boards are as good as advertised.  These pictures are when it was brand new but it looked EXACTLY the same when I scraped off the wax and sold it.  I dropped another Coil I had rail down on a cobblestone at Trestles and there was no pressure, no ding, nothing.  Bulletproof.

I had other Coils after this one that were pure HPSB shapes rather than a stubby and those shone even more.  Mainly because they were 2.5″ thick instead of 2.63.”  I will buy another custom Coil at some point but I will go at the order this time differently.  For one, I will not stick to a “model”, I will work with Mike to create a true custom and secondly I will listen to whatever he says.  Remember, the shaper is the expert, not the surfer.  Listen to him.

And stop fucking with your fins.

Feeling Left Out

Ever since I was a kid I would feel bad for toys that weren’t getting played with at the time.  Naturally, this unfounded feeling over an inanimate object translates to my favorite “toys” as an adult, surfboards.

I think this is some of the reason I have strong feelings about daily drivers and minimalist quivers.  It is a belief deep down that the board sitting in the garage is going to somehow feel bad as it sits, unsurfed, almost getting dusty.

If I was to build a really specialized quiver, I’d have boards that would sit for months at a time, only getting surfed when the exact conditions that the board was built for would come about.  This would make me feel bad, maybe almost wasteful.  I probably should start getting over these feelings since I really do love surfboards and wish I had all of them.  On the other hand, with a smaller quiver I won’t get the amount of board angst when choosing the right tool for the job and I won’t have to pack my car to the gills with boards when I’m going for a session.

I recently got two boards built that were meant to be bookends to my DM Bonzer 3 daily driver.  I got a Windigo Hitchcock and a Campbell Brothers “Chile” model Bonzer 5 (pics and review of my own coming soon).  Since these boards were built by such master craftsman even though one is ostensibly a groveler and one a step up they both work so well that the Hitchcock can be ridden in up to head high waves and the Bonzer works in waist high stuff.  This overlaps the daily driver range and I feel like my DM Bonzer feels left out.  On a day like today the conditions are right for me to ride any one of these boards.

I’m sure part of it is still the excitement of having new boards causing the DD to get left out, not to mention that I’ve had a couple sessions where I have surfed the best I have ever surfed on that Hitchcock.  But I feel like the thrill is gone on that DM Bonzer now, and am possibly contemplating selling it before it is completely beat down.  Since I’m already thinking of another board to order, this might end up being the Bonzer 3’s fate.  I’m going to sit on that decision for a while though, because there is a reason why I like that board so much- its damn good.

My quiver really is tiny, and as you can see has toy cars, buckets, sales rep samples and dog food to hang out with.  I should probably just do what I always tell everyone else; just stop thinking about it, shut the f up, and surf

Dad quiver

Board Review- Windigo Hitchcock

5-4 x 21.25 x 2.25
Shaped, airbrushed, glassed, and sanded by Barry Snyder.


I have been somewhat slacking on writing a review for this board due to work being really busy and the fact that we’ve had so many good days.  Usually, getting a new board and getting good waves to ride it on is near impossible since Nature conspires to make you sit on that new board.  However, I guess this is going the other way because I got this board as a groveler.  Screw you Nature!

Even though this is a grovel board it can handle shoulder high waves no problem, its when it gets a little bigger than that the board gets a little squirrely.  If you take a high line you can handle it but there are other boards for that.  Could it be a daily driver for North County?  Absolutely.

Ever since I’ve gotten this board if it is surfable the waves have been at least belly to chest high, but one day the waves were small but had good shape to them. It actually looked so small that I probably would have gone home since I didn’t have the longboard in the car but I figured this is the time to see how grovely my Hitchcock can get and boy am I glad I paddled out.

The biggest wave where I was at was maybe thigh high but it was as fun as surfing shoulder high waves. The board was catching waves super easy and then would get up right in the pocket. The coolest thing about it is that it doesn’t just want to trim down the line, it wants to be turned. Even cooler than that is that you can do the same kind of turns you can with an HPSB in HH waves.  Those conditions that I really had in mind when I ordered it and it went above and beyond my expectations.

The board came with the stock Thermotech Futures F7 quad set.  I was going to get a fancy set but these base model fins are working so good I don’t see a reason to do so.  Barry has a couple of other fin setup ideas that I want to try sometime, including using a Futures TMF trailer and/or throwing in twin fin fronts.  Maybe I’ll try it during the summer doldrums, but I also don’t believe in fixing something that’s not broken.

Here’s Barry’s explanation of the board
My theory on that board is it is not one of those UN-turnable Mini-Simmons boards. Those are only good for surfing horizontal on the wave. I’m a short-boarder. Shortboards are for vertical surfing. So I wanted to combine the two. So if you look closely at the board, you will notice that it has a lot going on. Almost all mini-sims I’ve seen, have too much concave in the tail. It has a very wide tail. The only thing to help that board go on rail besides tail rocker is Vee. Or a size 16 foot. Most modern shapers have forgotten that element. Next it has a shallow center concave flowing into a deep double off the tail. It also has a very suttle bevel along the rails. This also helps the board go on rail. It also thins out the rail too.

Barry is awesome to work with, he does all the work himself and loves new ideas for both shapes and construction.  I am going to be getting more boards from him for sure.  Shaper emails and phone calls are awesome, but nothing beats being able to walk into a factory and talk to the shaper.   I was a little worried about the dims to tell you the truth, 2.25″ of thickness with foiled rails seemed small to me, even though I’m much lighter than I was in years past, but I listed to Barry and I’m super glad I did.  Every single dimension is perfect.

1uo5 d88

I’m really stoked to have this board.  I actually kinda want the waves to get small.

Storm Surfing

Judging by the crowds on days like today, not many people like to brave storms to go surfing.  Its like they think that as soon as it is raining that the surf is closed.  Well, I know that’s not the actual thought but it is always worth a check if there is swell running regardless of “storm” conditions.

Today was not perfect by any means, but it was not victory at sea either.  In between growing squalls of south winds the sets would come through and were actually really fun, lined-up, shoulder high waves.  The crowd was the best thing about it too, there was one guy on a peak 400 yards north of me, 2 guys on a peak 200 yards south, and one other guy where I was surfing.  These guys know the secret as well I guess.

Surfing during a storm is never like a day with “good” conditions; you get rain in your eyes, you have to paddle more, and the waves might do some unexpected things.  This is fun to me.  The ocean simply seemed more alive today, I even saw a big knothead sea lion; I know they live down here but nothing compared to the numbers up north.

We are getting a good swell during this storm, usually I’d bitch about the timing, but California needs precipitation so bad I’m not going to let it bother me that much.  I’m sure there are going to be windows to surf all weekend, although the Saturday forecast looks to be the definition of victory at sea.  Any size like that is worth checking, even if it just to watch the ocean when its angry.


But by all means, please stay home when its stormy.  The waves suck, the wind and rain bother your eyes, and the massive amounts of toxic runoff will kill you instantly.

There might be some corners out there, but its bigger than it looks

I’m Still Here

The flat spell and impending baseball season has kept me from updating this blog for a couple weeks.  Without surf I sometimes lack inspiration and baseball season being around the corner makes me a busy man at work.

Anyway, I have a new board that I’m getting some sessions on so I can do a proper review so look for that.  Also, in the meantime I will be digging deep and reviewing boards from my past.

There’s some swell right now, go get it

Reverse Rips

Sometimes the ocean has a way of reminding you who’s boss.  I paddled out into blown-out, crappy windswell this morning just to get a maintenance session and was greeted with a paddle that made me feel like I was paddling out at Sloat St. on a 20′ day.  The waves were really, really shitty but somehow it took me 10 or 15 minutes to get out to the lineup.  The lineup was no more than 100 yards offshore either.  Even better, conditions were changing enough that the rip followed me as I navigated sideways to get out of it.  It was one of those cases to just keep paddling and get there.

I surf all the time.  I’m in great shape from this past run of swell.  I was a competitive swimmer.  But sometimes the ocean has to show its strength.  I eventually made it out, and laughed at myself when I got there.  I surfed for a while in mediocre waves that maybe got shoulder high on the biggest sets, and finally rode one in as it was time to go to work.  Despite the wind coming up even more, I noticed two more guys paddling out.  They looked like they were on a treadmill, stuck in the same hole I was in on my way out.  I chuckled to myself and felt a little pride come back since it wasn’t just me getting beat up out there.

My shoulders are still sore.