Friday, February 5, 2010

what was i thinking?

I took the writing on the side of the blog and shoved it here.

Dan Forte of DANO surfboards told me the following story:

" back in the day Dale Velzy went through a 2 year period where he didn't pay for any of the wood he used to make his boards. Velzy was going to the Long Beach harbor and plucking the discarded Balsa Wood they used for packaging material out of the water and then letting it dry out. Stop signs in the beach cities were made with redwood post around this time. Allegedly Velzy would use the wood from the stop signs as stringers for some of his boards."

Tim Elsner sent this to me:

Power vs. Cruise

That fall,” wrote Mike Doyle of the contest, “from September 26 through October 2, the third World Surfing Championships were held in San Diego, at Ocean Beach. It was the biggest surf contest ever held on the mainland, with 80,000 spectators. More important, though, it was the first time the U.S. media covered surfing as a serious sport, rather than just a wacky California fad.”

“That world contest shook up California surfing,” Doyle recalled. “At the time we were all riding 10-foot surfboards with trash-can noses, and we were still into an old-fashioned style of surfing there you stomp on the tail to kick the nose up, let the wave build-up go in front of you, then you either run forward and crouch down inside the tube, or else you stand on the nose and arch back in a kind of pose. We had all these stock poses we did over and over – el Spontaneo, Quasimodo, Nose Tweaking, Bell Ringing. They had originated back in the goofy Malibu days and had been a lot of fun over the years. But they had also stifled the creation of new styles. It was time to move on to other things.”

“When the contest began at Ocean Beach Pier,” wrote Phil Jarratt, “it soon became obvious that it would be a duel between two completely different approaches to wave riding… The California cruise, best exemplified by the surfing of Nuuhiwa and acolytes like Dru Harrison, used the surfboard as a platform for manoeuvres, some of them quite spectacular, like Nuuhiwa’s ten second nose rides. The Australian power style of Nat Young and Queensland surfer Peter Drouyn used the surfboard to attack the wave, riding in parts of it that had never before been utilized.”

“The real agent of change that year was Nat Young,” Mike Doyle wrote, “who came over from Australia with an old, beat-up, nine-foot log that looked like hell. But it was shaped like one of the old pig boards – a shape that had mostly been forgotten.

“… The pig board had gotten started by accident at Dale Velzy’s shop in Venice back in the Fifties. In those days, all the boards were wide in the front and narrow in the back. The guy who glassed Velzy’s boards accidentally glassed the fin on the wide end and left a narrow nose. But Velzy, to his great credit, was always open to new ideas. Whe he saw what had happened, he just laughed and said, ‘Ah, hell, don’t knock it off, let’s try it in the water and see what happens.’ The first time they put it in the water, they were amazed to find that it turned wonderfully, with all the width in back as a planing surface where the rider’s weight is, and the narrow nose to trim in close to the wave. In a very short time, that became the hottest new shape in surfboards – a wide tail and a narrow nose – and became known as a pig board.”

“But over the years,” continued Doyle, “with all the experimentation that had taken place in surfboard design, (and mostly because the nose-riding style of surfing required a wide nose) the pig board concept had been forgotten.

“Then Nat Young, with his born-again pig board, made a quantum leap in style. Instead of nose-riding like the rest of us, Nat was making lines and patterns on the faces of the waves. And that board of his, which looked like a piece of junk to us, was really pretty sophisticated. Besides being small (nine-foot was small to us then), it had a continuous-curve outline and continuous-curve rocker. While we were riding long, straight, cigar boards, Nat’s board was much more suitable for doing cutbacks and what I call S-turn surfing.”

“Nat was cranking his board,” also explained Jeff Hakman, “a nine feet four inch thing he called Sam, and doing roundhouse cutbacks like I’d never seen before. He’d just drive it out onto the shoulder, plant those big feet of his on the rail, and wind it back in. Drouyn used a lot of little turns to tuck into the best part of the wave all the time, very tight, very controlled. They were both riding the wave, not the board, and that made the difference.”

“… Nat gave us all a lesson in the future of surfing,” Mike Doyle testified. “While we would cut back or stomp on the tail to stall, Nat would cut back by compressing his body and pushing out with his legs, driving to get more power off his fin. He came out of a turn with more power than when he went into it, which allowed him to keep the board moving all the time, cutting a much bigger pattern in the water. He would accelerate way out into the flat of the wave, cut way back into the curl, then drive way out in front again. The waves at Ocean Beach were small and mushy, but Nat was still carving all over them.”

The Hawaiians, used to bigger surf, did not fare well. As for Nuuhiwa, his confrontation with Young was averted when he was eliminated early on, despite a 10-second noseride.

“Years after the World Contest,” Nuuhiwa recalled of a conversation about an over-emphasis on noseriding in contests, “Nat and I got together and laughed about it. What a joke. But I figured, ‘Hey, if that’s what they want, that’s how we’ll play it out.”

“I was disappointed,” continued Nuuhiwa, talking about the fact he and Nat never got to duel it out, “because I came down with the flu after a good first day.”

Nat Young emerged the winner.

“It was the first time most of us had seen anything like Nat’s style,” Mike Doyle recalled, “and it set him so far apart from the rest of us and impressed the judges so much, it was impossible for him not to win the contest.

“It was the first time a world championship had been won by a surfer from a country other than the host nation.

“And by the way,” Doyle wrote in 1993, “all modern surfboards today follow the pig-board concept – wide in the tail and narrow in the nose.”

“I think Nat’s performance at San Diego in ’66,” Jeff Hakman declared in the late 1990s, “really was a benchmark in world surfing. It was the last of the longboard contests, and seeing what Nat could do on a board that was basically a log, made us all realise what was possible if we had better equipment.”

John Harrison sent this to me
Hi there and greetings,
Love your blog and your comment on why people are so hungup on labeling the board. Velsy did when Jacobs shaped the first one and Velsy is quoted as saying it looks like the assend of a pig and the rest is history. They surfed well, everyones surfing started to improve and rumor has it the Velsy pig gave Hobie his 1st ulcer as Velsy and Jacobs new board took alot of business away from Hobie. Gotta love surf lore. What is interesting is how that shape became every shapers stock in trade board for a long time until everyone jumped on the signature and specialty models. Pig shapes give you a different ride (original is probably a better word). Pig shapes, may the masses come to know them again and enjoy the glide of a simpler time. Stay stoked.

Today I was surfing my BING pig down at "sliders point" with Tim Elsner. I was mentioning to him how I really appreciate the effects of belly in a board combined with the other design elements of a pig. I like how when I am walking to the nose i feel like I have the opportunity to adjust my line as I am walking. With the wider nosed less bellied boards I have been surfing it felt like I couldn't steer the board as easily while I was approaching the nose or while I was on the nose for that matter. I think the belly and the lack of width require a more subtle approach to the nose. The rewards of this approach are seen in the control and the line of an experienced pig rider on the nose. As Tim said "you can't be a drunken sailor" and stomp your way the nose of a pig. I also have been enjoying the way my pig rolls of the bottom when I do a bottom turn. I enjoy the transition from top turn to setting my rail for the nose ride. I think belly has a lot to do with this. Most people's biggest complaint about belly is how it slows the board down. Quite true! In my experiences with boards that have less belly than these pigs I have... i find I am outrunning the wave most of the time. California point waves aren't the fastest waves around MOST of the time. When I miss a section on my pig, its hard for me to blame the belly of the board. If the belly is to blame, I'll cut it some slack. Why?!! Well, I like what it does in other areas.

There is another little fact about "pig" boards that seems to go unnoticed. The original "Da-Cat" models from Greg Noll had so much swine in them that people of religious influence that can't deal with swine wouldn't have been able to eat them... that is of course if a surfboard was something you ate and not something you SHREDDED!!

Tim Elsner sent me this.
"The Pig Is The New Hull" - Summer '09.

I asked my good friend Dan to speak on his experiences about "the other Carson Pig".
" 'Pig' is a misnomer for this board. Yes--it is rotund at its wide point and looks like an awkward, slow, lazy piece of equipment, but do not let its looks (or name, for that matter) deceive you. The pig is an extraordinarily versatile board. Not only is it a stable noserider, but it can also turn on a dime. With so much weight back in the tail near the glassed-on wood d-fin, combined with the narrow nose, you can pull 180 degree turns on a pig--no joke. The pig is the way and the light. Word. "

Andrew Diengott of Jim Phillips surfboards sent me this:
Customer comments on his first day on his new pig: "Rode the Pig. Best waves I've ever had. Ever. Did things I only thought possible on a short board - and with a surfer other than me. Fantastic. Fantastic! My go to board for sure."

My creative "out of the box" thinking buddy Ryan Thomas ofwarbles had this to say about a pig: " when i get the time (in a month or so— hopefully less), i'm gonna submit a doctored photo of a cop strapped to racks on a car, and another of someone surfing on the same cop with an apple jammed in his mouth.cheers,—rt" SUPER CLASSIC!! Ryan! thats not what we are talking about!

My buddy Mike Dismukes of Wave Riders Gallery wrote another something that I think hits the nail on the head. "...the pig seems to be a perfect fit for your style. What do you think, all the trendy focus given to noseriding pushed the wide points forward and buried the pig for a while? My experience from the mid to late 80's, when I pretty much went to logs full time, was such that if I wanted a pig it was going to be a garage sale beater from the 50's or a new Velzy - he by the way really stood behind the design and thought contests had always made people surf like fags. I got my first one off the rack just as a lucky fluke, I didn't have any idea what a pig was, I just wanted what the old guys had so I might surf more like them, when it wasn't about the noseride. Ha, I told him that when the rack board delamed and I went to him to for a custom. I think back to a decade or two ago when Joel was pushing for a more "traditional style" scoring format aiming to further push traditional board design - Noserides good. Airs, floaters and helicopters bad. Also the design seems to appeal to the bigger dudes who can throw some weight and water around. So anyway, great blog that is now bookmarked! Let's shred soon ... can I barrow a pig :) I answered with the following: A pig does fit my style mike. thats why I am ALL about them. A 10 malibu foil worked for me. But then I was speaking to the board more than listening to it. I am not a nervous surfer. I am not a huge wave surfer. You kow this , you know me. Hilbers made a strong point today. I think there are several keys to a successful pig design. You can have the narrow nose, wide point aft, D skeg, and still have a piece of shit. The board needs the belly, it needs the right rail and it needs some weight. Let the weight do the turning for you, let the weight stabalize the board as you are walking forward so the belly doesn't slosh the board around. The day I do a fucking helicopter is the day I leave my board on the beach for some unfortunate kook. Keep the tail down the nose stays up. Pigs nose ride good enough. Pigs are about as well rounded funtionaly as a log will be.

My buddy Andrew Diengott of Jim Phillips surfboards has this to say about the Pig: "The Pig. This model defines the boards of the late 50’s / early 60’s before noses widened and signature models were introduced. A pulled in nose and soft rounded squaretail, with hips about 18” behind center, are the marks of what Dale Velzy and Hap Jacobs founded as The Pig. The rails start up in the nose, where there’s a bit of belly, and then they smoothly transition to 50/50, which works with the slight body roll, all the way through the tail. Just ahead of the fin on the bottom we’ve added some additional roll to allow the board to rotate and bank stylishly side-to-side ...One of the most user-friendly boards you can own. Baggy trunks and whip turns…waaa hooooooooo!"

My buddy Brian Hilbers of Fineline Surfboards said : "No fanatic like a convert. BJ" SUPER CLASSIC!!

My buddy John McCambridge of Mollusk Surf Shop said: "Looks good Mike......Nice work! I enjoy pigs." NICE!!

My buddy Trace Marshall of GONZ! and Warriors or Radness said this about pigs: "Fuck replicas! The Originals are the best!" VERY NICE!!

My buddy Mike Dismukes of Wave Riders Gallery wrote me this about his Velzy Pig: "no pics of the wonder-pig. 9' 6" pinched and rolled with a big ass. Wonder why I ever sold it. In all the logs since, that pig stands as the most fun in the widest variety of conditions. The Old Hawk told me in person that 'my boards designed in the 50's were the best surfboards ever shaped and if anyone disagrees they can kiss my ass.' He was kind of a dick... in a good way." THANKS MIKE!!

Ryan Smith of Slide magaizine wrote me this about an experience on a pig: "nice. i rode a dano pig about 2-3 years ago (borrowed from my bro Devon Howard) and was pleasantly surprised by how fun it was.

My (mike black) second experience on a pig occurred in Huntington Beach. I was hanging out with my buddy Tom Riddings. He has a SICK collection of boards. He took me to this board swap thingy that goes on down at the pier every so often. I was not in the market to buy a board, I was just checking things out. I stumbled upon this silver label Yater pig. The thing was UGLY. It represents all that can be improved in the design (super narrow, box rails, no rocker). For $300 I figured it was worth a go. It was water tight with minimal dings. There had been some kind of something that had happened to the fin. It was no longer a D fin, but rather an O or something. I took the board home and gave it a wee bit of TLC. I started to ride the thing. Its was promptly named "the floating drifting sea cucumber" after it's functionality.

My (mike black) first experience on a D fin pig was in Santa Barbara. My buddy Jeff (Jethro!) was getting his fire fighting training on. He was trying to become a fire fighter. He flipped out after 9/11 and liquidated his quiver. I scored a few SICK Tyler craftmen from him and this board i am writing about. I paid 2k for two brand new Tyler Craftsmen and one "other board". This other board had never really been a surf board to ride. I think it was just a prop for a "gidget does beach blankets" movie. The board had some design elements that I figured were destine to make the thing a terrible rider. It was the kind of board you would bolt to your racks to look like a surfer if you were from the valley back in '62. It was a "pop out". It still had the tape edge from the un sanded , un polished gloss coat. I started to surf this thing. It shredded! Steve Bigler saw me shredding it at NORTHSIDE! HB and thought it was a Jacobs. The thing had no logo. He said he was still friends with Hap or something . He said he could get me a sticker. I never did get that sticker from him. I got so excited about the board I called my buddy I bought it from. He demanded I give it back. I honored him. This was the board that got me interested in the design elements of a "pig". Not only my experiences with this board..but has everyone just forgotten that "the Endless Summer" was filmed with "pig" style boards?


  1. met up with mr. bob mitsven this week, I think what I'll do is use his bay to shape up a 9' 4" piglet done from a Velzy plan shape and do it m'self... with a little help from bob and rick at mitsven. bob scrubs a lot of V's and will walk me through it, I will shoot for a "Sonny" Young inspired plan- thinner, foiled-er, radder-er. It may be a soup sandwich when it's all said and done, but think of all the cred I'll get on Swaylocks... know this, when done I will call it ... "THE EQUATION" - cause "FADE TO BLACK" was taken.

  2. ultra SICK!!! i want to see pix of the thing developing.