The Thagomizer, so termed by the great Far Side creator, Garry Larson. This model checks every box an eye-catching noserider should have. Prominent parallel rails running equidistant from your choice of stringer configurations. The rails featured are 50/50, round and forgiving, like a tennis ball; at the tail they are up-turned in an arc-tail shape, for that all important lift. Terry Martin’s influence on surfboard design is unrivaled anywhere, especially here at Hobie. We used T. Martin rocker in a green weight U.S. Blank, relaxed the nose, and accentuated the tail rocker in the last 30 inches; more lift doubles hang time. Up front, under the nose, reveals an expanded, canyon-esque concave, almost rail-to-rail, extending a third of the way down the bottom. The idea behind Larson’s Thagomizer is speed and hang-time. None of this is theory. The design has been tested and proven by our team. You want to nose ride and have your sandwich too, get on a Thagomizer.
The history of surfing is full of characters, both men and women, some possessing dubious backgrounds, behaviors, and motives. Still others were of exemplary behavior. Prior to European contact and empire building, the Hawaiian people surfed unimpeded. Their only prohibitions were the rituals required to build a surfboard, and the system of kapus that outlined who could ride what board, and when and where. Hawaiian lore is filled with tales of extraordinary watermen and women, such as King Kamehameha and his wife, Ka’ahumanu.
With surfing’s re-emergence from the Calvinistic missionary period, its rise in popularity exploded as travelers, like Jack London and Mark Twain, encountered it while visiting the islands. Soon thereafter, surfing and the surfboard made its way to California, and subsequently a California surf lifestyle took root. As the California surf scene matured, individuals, many of whom were ocean lifeguards of exceptional abilities, began to be recognized as their exploits became known. Tom Blake, Pete Peterson, Lorrin “Whitey” Harrison, and George “Peanuts” Larson, whose famous quote, “I’m not talkin’ about the way it was, just the way it’s never gonna be again,” come to mind.
The surfboards of this era were long, solid wood, heavy affairs. The modern lightweight shortboard wasn’t even a glimmer in the eye of these men. For years these boards were put to the test as rescue paddle boards and were often featured in distance races as part of surf riding festivals. In the late 1920’s, Tom Blake stunned the surfing world with an uncontested win at the Hawaiian Surfboard Paddling Championships, setting a record in the 100 yard dash on his never before seen, semi-hollow board.
Now fast forward to the late 1940’s. Enter Dale Velzy, a characters character, and his need for speed. A paddling tradition had become a deeply rooted aspect of the California surf culture. Unrestricted to just making surfboards, Velzy possessed an impassioned interest in paddle boarding. Like his souped-up hot rods, Dale wanted to go fast. He married his creativity, craftsmanship, imagination, and experiences in the lifeguard service, and launched an all out effort to create boards for speed and racing.
Inspired by the waterman ethos, and taking inspiration from the escapades of Blake, Peterson, and Gene “Tarzan” Smith, Dale and buddies Bob Hogan and Wendell “Gibby” Gibson conspired to organize a 32 mile race from Catalina Island to the Manhattan Beach Pier. Buoyed by the interest of big-wave legends Greg Noll, George Downing, and Ricky Grigg, Velzy set about creating the ultimate paddleboard.
Dale built his boards for open ocean racing. He staunchly believed that knee paddling was more efficient than prone paddling, used less energy, and the paddler was in a better position to catch and ride wind swell and chop. His design featured a rounded bottom with a flat spot at the apex that counteracted the broaching problem of fully rounded hulls.
The inaugural 32 mile Catalina to Manhattan Beach Pier race commenced in 1955, with the winning paddler, Ricky Grigg of Santa Monica, California, crossing the channel in 8 hours, 27 minutes. Today the Catalina Classic Paddleboard Race continues to grow in size and popularity, and although Dale Velzy is no longer with us his legend and racing designs continue to be tested in the most challenging of environments, the unforgiving open ocean.
Hobie Surfboards has a long history of making competitive prone paddleboards. Contact Kris Carlow at 949-481-6381 for information on our Surf Beat and Cloud models, or visit our website at www.hobiesurfshop.com.
Editor’s note: This article is by no means a definitive history on prone paddle boarding. My focus fell on Velzy because his fingerprints are found on many aspects of the surfing life. Watch for upcoming installments.
“If I see a board that I shaped and it is sunburnt yellow, dinged up and ridden into the ground… it makes me happy. I don’t shape things to sit, they are supposed to be in the water, it is why shapers do what they do.” Gary Larson.
How do you start a board for a yet unnamed rider? “I start by looking at the destination… if it is an Uncle Buck headed for Dana Point, I start thinking it is going to be surfed at SanO. Then I think of the wave and how the average surfer in the water would ride it… when I started surfing, I just wanted to surf and get waves… when I make a stock board, I don’t think of surfers like Bucky Barry or Tyler Warren… I think about the average guy or girl in the water and make it for them.” When you think back to that first off the rack board that you loved, it was in fact designed just for you. The stock shapers already saw you riding the wave, they already knew what break you were going to surf at… they knew it was for you before you ever walked into the shop.
School is almost out for the summer, and you are waaaaaaay behind on your papers!!! Have no fear, Gary Larson is here to hook you up with all the research you need to answer the question “Why is the Sky Blue??”
For this weeks science blog we will leave the oceans and look at what makes the sky appear blue. And no, it is not because the ocean is reflecting the color of the water into the sky. (Ed Note: Full disclosure, I have always thought this to be true before Gary explained it to me)
In order to understand what makes the sky blue we must first understand the basics of sunlight and color. I recently read a fascinating article about a young Isaac Newton’s early experiments with light waves. The year was 1665 and a 23 year-old Newton was home from school due to the plague. Newton confined himself to his room and began experimenting with a prism. He closed his blinds and cut a small hole allowing a small stream of light to pass through. Newton then held a prism into the beam of light causing the light to scatter, ultimately casting a rainbow upon his wall.
Prior to this experiment it was widely believed that sunlight was white in color and therefore could not be muddied or changed. What Newton proved was that sunlight actually consisted of all the colors in the visible light spectrum together. There were many people who criticized this experiment, mostly due to religious credence, claiming that white light was holy in nature and could not possibly be made up of colors, and that the prism itself contained the colors of the rainbow.
Subsequently Newton devised a second experiment consisting of a second prism. Remember, this was in 1665 and a prism was not easy to come by. So, Newton held the second prism into the blue portion of the rainbow allowing only blue light to pass through and just as he had presumed, only blue light was cast against the wall.
Visible light is part of the electromagnetic spectrum consisting of the electromagnetic wavelengths between about 400 and 800 nanometer. For reference, one-nanometer is one-billionth of a meter.
As we can see from the electromagnetic spectrum above, the colors containing the highest amounts of energy, thus the shorter wavelengths, are violet and blue. When sunlight passes through the atmosphere these higher energy wavelengths scatter, being absorbed and reflected off the molecules that makeup our atmosphere causing the sky to appear blue. In space, where there is no atmosphere, the light is not being scattered off of molecules therefore appearing black.
Why, then, does the sky not appear violet? This has to do with how our eyes work. We have three different light receptors in our eyes called cones. They respond most strongly to the colors blue, red, and green. Therefore, although violet and blue wavelengths are being scattered in the atmosphere our sensory system, using the blue cones in our eyes, tell our brain that the sky is blue as it is the strongest wavelength stimulating the blue cones.
So this week when you are at the beach, looking up at the blue sky, you will have a basic understanding of why you see blue, but stick around until sunset and the orange and red sky will open up a whole new set of questions. This will be discussed next week.
The topic of cleaning, or the ability to clean, plastics from our Oceans is obviously a touchy subject. It drifts on and off the front pages of our news. In our continued effort here at Hobie Surf Shop Blog to bring you “Surf Science” education, we felt the need to share some enlightened thoughts on the cleaning of the five ocean gyres, also known as swirling “Garbage Patches”. We hope to get our resident Surf Scientist, Gary Larson’s, thoughts on the subject soon…..
The Surfers Journal recently ran an article called “Trash Pick Up” touting 19 year old engineering student, Boylan Slat’s, “Ocean Cleanup Array” (see photo interpretation above) as our catch all solution to the problem of plastics in our Seas. The idea behind the Array, is a simple yet complexly designed machine that is anchored in the Ocean and it just sits and waits for the currents to bring the plastics to its outstretched funnels. The plastics are then separated from the plankton and such, stored, collected, then recycled into new plastic products… simple, right?? Not a chance says Stiv Wilson….