Surfing philosophy: Toby Wan asks Roy Stewart what makes his Pure Surfing boards tick

Toby Wan wrote:

" Roy you use superlatives to describe your boards' performance

Your surfing style or preference is yours and I completely respect that; many people are aiming for different things using the same resource. Sometimes simply standing up and cruising/trimming/turning constantly down the wave is sufficient, other times a few turns or tucking in is what's best. We all adapt.

What I want to know is,
1) what specifically are you trying to achieve with these boards, on a wave, which can't be achieved on something else?

I know the board appears well crafted, and you can have a piece of artwork, etc.. that's great, BUT you're here telling me that this is an exceptional surfboard as well as a piece of art, so

2) what surfing element are these boards ticking off more than anything else currently available (and somewhat cheaper than a house) from someone else?

Essentially I'm trying to figure out if there is a surfing element to these boards, which surpasses all others available, that would entice me to buy one of these as opposed to 1,000 shortboards or 500 mals."

Hello Toby,

Thankyou for asking such an excellent question, I'll do my best to answer it

Firstly if the boards are art then they are so because of their functional capability.

All the differences both in looks and in function between my boards and mainstream surfboards stem from a different surfing philosophy. Mainstream boards are derived from competition boards and thus they focus on being on the wave in order to do highly visible point scoring turns which show athletic prowess as well as mastery of and dominance over the wave. My boards focus only on making the wave as easily, reliably, and efficiently as possible, in a wide range of conditions.

Whenever one designs a surfboard, achievment of the design goal will have consequences. The goal will be reached but other possible goals will not be. In this case my boards have achieved their goal and so have the various types of competition derived boards. Thus if one's personal surfing goal is make waves as easily as possible, my boards are functionally superior. If one wants to emulate the competition style, then the mainstream competition derived boards are superior. It's important to realise that the well designed pure surfing board is a more capable wave making machine than the competition boards are in most situations.

This difference can be described as the 'make it hard' school versus the 'make it easy' school, or as expressionism versus impresssionism. We also call the easy school 'Pure surfing'.

How the goal of making it easy is achieved can be seen at a glance by looking at the boards. The actual design features of the boards and how they interrelate is both simple and complex to explain, so although it's a large subject we can identify several 'meta' features as examples, leaving the more complex ones and details of how these features are achieved until later.

First it's possibly worthwhile to dispel the usual myth which crops up, namely turning. In order for a board to achieve the goal of making waves easily and reliably in a wide range of conditions it is vitally necessary that the board can be turned easily for repositioning at any time anywhere on the wave without complicated or difficult techniques. It is also important that the turns are efficient. These requirements have the effect of hiding turns. Turns become smoother and less noticeable, but they are more functional via their ease and efficiency. People have become so used to the idea that turns are for the display of athletic prowess or artistic style, and that therefore they are difficult to do, that they find it hard to comprehend and accept that pure functional turning exists and that it is easy to achieve via natural human reactions and instincts.

Some of the general meta design features which we aim for in pursuit of pure surfing are:

1) A sweet spot whereby the board can be turned and trimmed simultaneously with the minimum of effort or movement. This saves vital time and speed, and allows the mind of the rider more freedom to concentrate on strategy rather than tricky moves. . . therefore giving improved section making ability and greater reliability.

2) A forgiving board.

3) A board which rides well on flat sections and steep tubing sections, and in choppy ragged waves as well as smooth well formed ones.

That's just a general overview of the subject, I apologise if I've repeated what I've said previously or stated the obvious.

Regarding the value in monetary terms of the advantages given by a well designed Pure surfing board, although the advantages themselves can be quantified to some extent in objective physical terms their value will always be subjective, and in my opinion pricless. Nevertheless in the real world we put a price on it.

The main point is that overall, a well designed 'Pure surfing' board is a more efficient wave making vehicle than the competition derived board.. .  and that they are an extremely rare item due to the fact that the monoculture competition boards in all their suposedly 'varied' forms have been such an invasive species. This numerical success has had more to do with the financial monopoly of corporations and the emphasis on flashy moves than any innately superior surfing features.

The short answer:  "It's the experience"

Here's an example: In the picture above the surf looks uncrowded, and the typical viewer imagines that they would shrapl the wave if ghey'd been on it.

The reality ? There were 40+ surfers including  teamriders, shapers, and locals all trying to ride a smaller, shorter, less shapely and  much more crowded wave at the 'blowhole' off to the right and out of the picture. Why were they not enjoying the bigger, faster, longer, and better shaped lefts which I had to myself ? The reason is that in spite of all their alleged skill and 'name' boards they couldn't make the wave. . .  the waves were harder to make than they looked, or in my case, easier on the FP12.

Hard or easy? It is your choice.