Q&A w/ Hobie Surfboard Manager: Kris Carlow

Hobie Surf Boards Manager Kris Carlow
photo credit: Malia Kho

We sat down with surfboard expert Kris Carlow to get to know him and his trade. Here is an inside scoop on the man himself!

Q: How long have you been with Hobie & what is your role in the company?

A: I’m going on 9 years of gainful employment, with Hobie Surf Shops, in just a few months. My current title is “Hobie Surfboards Manager.” Essentially, I manage and maintain the license to manufacture/distribute Hobie Surfboards. This role includes elements like marketing, quality control, and R&D. All that good stuff!

Q: What do you love most about the Hobie lifestyle?

A: There are two elements that I love about the Hobie lifestyle; family-like vibes and freedom. Each employee has their own passion for an outdoor activity. These activities not only include surf and skate, but other activities such as camping, hiking, rock climbing, and golf. Our company promotes each individual and this translates to the friendly staff that we have today.

Q: What do you love most about your job?

A: Our customers are the best, so I love putting our customers on the perfect surfing board. The Hobie catalogue is soooo deep and a little direction is required to find the right shape. A close second would be the R&D and input that I gather from our distinguished shapers: Gary Larson, Michael Arenal, and Adam Davenport. I mention these two details as they go hand-in-hand. We wouldn’t be able to offer such a quality product without our shapers and our company wouldn’t exist without the support of our customers.

Kris Carlow photo credit: @muirman

Q: How does golf fit into this lifestyle, and how do two very different sports such as surfing and golf come together? 

A: Golf and Surf are more applicable than ever, especially, in our post-COVID world. Both are pastimes that bring out the best and worst in the individual. The performance of the participant is in his or her hands; whether the surfer gets that perfect ride or crashes and burns… the same could be said for the golfer’s success on the golf course. We’re all looking for that perfect swing or wave. The cravings are identical and they keep us coming back for more on a weekly, daily, or hourly basis!

Lastly, both activities are models for determination and experience. If you put in the effort, the desired results are achievable. In what other sports will you encounter major champions at 39, Kelly Slater, and 50, Phil Mickelson, years of age?

Q: What is your favorite local surf break and golf course?

A: My favorite surf break is Church. It’s the logger’s dream. Hands down! For sentimental reasons, there’s no other course that hits closer to home than the San Clemente Municipal. The MUNI lives up to its moniker as the “Pride of The Pacific.” 

Q: What are your favorite products we carry?

A: My fav lines are Hobie and Fragile Ocean. The Straight Down “Crusher” pullovers via Fragile Ocean are the absolute JAM! The “Crusher” is perfect for June Gloom mornings and evenings. The silky polyester material is easily packable and fits nicely in a lightweight carry golf bag or backpack.

Kris Carlow @ The Ranch, Laguna Beach
https://hobiesurfshop.com/fragile-ocean-crusher-14-zip-pullover-p-a-l-crusher.html

Q: Dream hobie board, surf break, and golf spot? 

A: My current “Hobie-Related” dream board is a Phil Edwards Honolulu. Currently, our shaping staff has a little something-something in the works and it will do the trick for the modern logger. It would be insane to own and ride an original Phil Honolulu. Everyone knows that Phil is the MAN and the Honolulu’s are prime examples of his 60s craftsmanship!

My dream surf spot is Scorpion Bay, Baja. The wave is insane for potential logging. I’m almost just as excited about the camping in the area. Surf trips are best enjoyed with your crew and nothing beats a desert point with the homies.

There are soooo many legendary golf tracks. If I were to pick inside of the United States, I would roll with Pine Valley. PV, consistently, tops the best tracks in America. It had input from some of the best Golden-Age architects, Thomas and Tillinghast. There’s just something about the pines, native areas, and the natural bunkering. For an international location, nothing beats the “Old Course” at St. Andrews. It’s the home of golf and a bucket list trip as St. Andrews is open to the public!

https://www.instagram.com/hobiesurfboards/

Introducing…. The THAGOMIZER!!!

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.

Cate’s Stoke: Employee Picks Cont…

Part 3: Mason Klink

Hi everyone! I hope everyone is doing their best to stay healthy and think positive during this hard time. At Hobie, our hearts go out to those affected and are keeping them in our thoughts. Currently, all shops are closed until further notice and will keep you guys in the loop on our social media channels. Please continue to practice social distancing, and remember we’re all in this together!

On a lighter note, we have new employee picks, from Mason Klink of San Clemente! Mason is an ambassador at Hobie as well and enjoys surfing at SanO in his spare time! Here are his shop picks:

1) Legacy Surfboard

This board is Mason’s favorite because it’s not just for nose-riding. He feels that “…this board can help any surfer learn to approach waves in a more natural manner.” This board quickly generates speed and keeps its momentum all the way down the line. “Terry Martin designed this Hobie to be the legacy of his shaping experience, and board design talents should motivate any surfer to want to try this board.” Mason recommends this board for people trying to make their surfing smoother and take an organic approach to traditional longboarding.

2) Authentic Wave by Tatsuo Tekai

This book means a lot to Mason because it encompasses the era of traditional longboarding that inspired him at a young age. Now longboarding has become extremely popular, but in the mid-’90s to early 2000’s it was about pushing the boundaries of performance longboarding. This book was shot during this time, so you can get inside this community of surfers. “Having this retrospect and photo evidence of the surfers who challenged the move to more performance longboarding is nearly priceless, in my opinion.”

3) Patagonia R2 Wetsuit

This is Mason’s all-time favorite suit! “Where do I start…I grew up wearing hand me down wetsuits and whatever I could find that didn’t break my dad’s wallet. The first session I had in my Patagonia blew my expectations out of the water, “‘no pun intended.”’ According to Mason, the suit drys extremely fast, and its crazy warm. “You get what you pay for with this Patagonia product, just like their other offerings.”

4) Hydro Flask 32 oz Wide Mouth

Mason says that he has one of these bottles with him at all times. “It helps me monitor my water intake and decreases my use of plastics.” At Hobie, we aim to be sustainable whenever we can and have so many amazing products like this bottle, which can help everyone be sustainable.

5) Patagonia Baggies

These are Mason’s favorite shorts all the time. “They are great for surfing, hiking, and everyday use.” These shorts are made of 100% recycled nylon and also dry quickly, just like the wetsuits. Mason has tried a bunch of different swim and walk short brands, but he loves the Patagonia Products the most.

Thank you guys so much for reading this post and remember to stay inside!!

Let The Wind Howl

By

Andrew Cowell

It’s noseriding, the magic art of walking foot-over-foot on a traditional longboard.  You’re hanging five toes, maybe ten, off the nose with nothing except air and water before you.  You’re flying, Jonathan Seagull free, working without a net.

Born in the 1950s, noseriding a longboard – done while riding the front third of a surfboard — became an accomplished maneuver.  The greats: David Nuuhiwa, Corky Carroll, Lance Carson, and others tested their cat-like skills while balancing on a moving surfboard, propelled by a spirited wave.

In the mischievous game of surfing shenanigans, new tricks beyond the classic hang five and hang ten were added to the dance.  The Stretch Five, Hanging Heels, Front Foot/Heel Hang, Back Foot/Heel Hang, and the Crow Bar.

In 1965, philosopher, inventor and accomplished jazz drummer, Tom Morey (Morey Boogie Board fame) created a cutting edge surfing competition — the first of its kind — The Morey Invitational.  Morey’s concept was a timed noseriding event.  Whoever stood with both feet on the front third of their surfboard the longest would be crowned champion.  Two Hobie riders emerged triumphant that day.  Mickey Munoz won the men’s division, with Corky Carroll taking out all comers in the junior’s.  Both victors rode boards that were specifically designed and shaped for the event by the great Phil Edwards.

Today traditional noseriding flourishes worldwide, thanks impart to Donald Takayama and Joel Tudor.  This is not to slight any of the shapers and surfer’s who have contributed to the resurgence of longboarding and noseriding.  After all Herbie Fletcher proclaimed, “The Thrill Is Back” in the 80s.  I believe that history will show that it was Takayama’s Hawaiian linage and South Bay history of designing and shaping surfboards for the greatest of all noseriders, David Nuuhiwa, that foretold the rise of eminent world champion, Joel Tudor.  Traditional longboarding, like a hibernating bear, emerged to take its rightful place in the surfing pantheon.  Many dismissed longboarding and noseriding, labeling it retro, but Tudor, whose skills rivaled and surpassed those of the greats, passionately defended the ride, igniting an underground, grassroots movement that has fueled the imaginations of today’s young riders of the nasal passage.

Cate’s Stoke: Favorite Hobie Surfboard Models

Two things that will help you improve your surfing are lots of practice and a good board. Some of my favorite boards have been shaped by Gary at Hobie and have helped improve my noseriding immensely. I’m here to break down some of my favorite Hobie shapes that will get you having major fun in the water!

Longboards:

Uncle Buck II:

My all-time favorite shape is the Uncle Buck II, a reimagined version of Bucky Barry’s original, Uncle Buck. This board has more tail rocker than the first so that the surfer can turn easier! This has made an enormous difference in my surfing! I’m 5’3” and ride a 9’2”, so frequently, if I don’t have enough tail rocker, boards are super hard for me to turn, and I end up just making super small cutbacks, with no power whatsoever. With my Uncle Buck II, I am now able to turn easily and not sacrifice being able to noseride, because it can do both!

Uncle Buck:

This is another one of my favorite boards, mostly because it’s a total wave magnet! I can literally catch as many waves as I want on this board, because of its flat rocker! It is the perfect nose rider with its super-wide nose, which helps me hang ten all day long! Above is a beautiful Uncle Buck that Gary Larson Shaped for me back in 2017!

Midlengths:

Farside

Full disclosure, as soon as I gave up short boarding competitively, and started longboarding full time, I became the worst paddler! I got way too lazy after learning that you only have to take about two strokes to get into any wave on a longboard! But then came a time when I decided I should probably broaden my quiver and so I turned to Gary and Kris Carlow for help. I got lucky because they had just created a new version of the retro egg, called the Farside. This model is super similar to the retro egg, but one of the main differences is the nose is a little bit more pulled in, making it way easier to duck dive! It’s perfect for those head-high winter swell days when it’s too big to take out my trusty log! I recommend this board to anyone who’s trying to make the transition from longboard to shortboard, it makes it way easier! Pictured above is a fantastic Farside that was shaped for me in 2019. Shoutout to Reyn Spooner for getting me the coolest fabric!

Shortboards:

C-4:

When picking a shortboard, I try to go with a fish or twin fin, since I can usually make it wider and thicker (easier to paddle and stand up)! The C-4 is a more progressive take on a 70s style fish. What’s neat about this board is it can also become a quad, so you have more options for fin setups depending on how the waves are looking. Another notable characteristic of this board are bumps that allow the board to break the water, to have a greater turning radius. This is such a fun board and is an excellent take on the fish style that we all know and love!

Hope you guys enjoyed my Hobie board picks, hope to see you out in the water soon!