Roger Hall on surfboard weight at the Gold Coast surf museum .

Here Roger speaks on surfboard weight at the Gold Coast surf museum wooden surfboard night :

"Seventeen years ago I went to the  Oxbow longboard contest in Hawaii, and I decided to make a state of the art , high performance, super light weight progressive longboard to see what I could do and ..ah.. I didn't do well in the contest, but the board was the best board I had ever made. it was my favourite board and just a fantastic board and that was really good.

That was 1993 and I sort of had this idea of making a wooden board for quite a long time and I had been collecting Agave stalks for quite a while, and I had a little bit of a stash and I thought: "Well I am going to make this wooden board", and just as a little bit of an experiment, to give the board the project a bit of direction, I decided to copy this super light weight foam board that I really liked out of  Agave wood.

 But it was a lot heavier than the super light , high performance longboard that I had been riding. I was absolutely blown away at how well this board went, in so many ways. It surprised me in ways I would never have dreamt.

The first thing was: I didn't know if the board would even float, so I made the thing and nervously took it to the beach,  and wood floats, but hey you should have seen my woodwork projects at school. My mother reminded me the other day that at the end of school, I used to bring home my woodwork projects and sneak them in the house and hide them in the wardrobe so my dad wouldn't see them... I haven't always been a woodworker.

Well anyway this board did float and it paddled great. And first thing I noticed is that it duckdived better than my foam board. I kind of thought "Maybe that's a quirky flukey thing" you know. It just seemed that every time I went under a wave it just duckdived better than my foam board. And I thought: "What's going on here" and I put it down to the fact that it didn't have the same corky buoyancy as a polyurethane foam blank. It seemed to sit under the wave out of the turbulence for just that little bit longer and then it popped up.

So that was something I never would have dreamt. The next thing I found was that paddling into waves the board just seemed to have more motor. And it had this really nice surefooted kind of feel to it as you dropped down the wave. It was always there for you at the bottom.

So right from paddling the board to my first takeoff I was discovering things like just "Bang, bang , bang". That really surprised me and I found out all kinds of things. I rode that board for two years non stop, and in the end I just had to get off it, because as a shaper I was no longer experimenting anymore. I didn't need another board. So I had to stop riding it.

The other thing I did at that time was I was so intrigued by the weight. How could this board be so fast and lively compared to the foam board that I had copied?

So the next board I made, I deliberately made it considerably heavier. I made it out of Balsawood, but what I did is I put hardwood rails on it. Like really heavy hardwood rails. The board was heavy. But it was a very progressive shape. It had a lot of rocker in it. What I found was: OK you drop into a wave; you lay it on rail to do a bottom turn; and what the board did was it just flipped onto its rail really quickly because the weight was in the rail, and then it held a really nice line. And then when you wanted to go on the other rail it just flipped onto the other rail. I used the word 'flip' but it was really smooth but really quick.

From that time on I never bothered about making another lightweight surfboard again. Even when I make my foam boards.

I've just found that weight is really a powerful design ingredient, it started disappearing from surfboards in the 50's, and we've pretty much been on this one way track of getting the weight out of surfboards and out of surfing, and we've had to bring it back for tow boards, and for recreating old school noseriders and stuff.  I've found that weight is a very very potent design element and  I think the road ahead is going to see weight come back into surfing, and this wooden board thing that's happening is going to really help to turn a lot of people on to that.


Roger Hall at the surf museum, gold coast.