Monday, October 12, 2009

Alaia Boards 1 - Surfers 0

A small swell graced us with weekend waves worthy of a little Alaia board experimentation. Contrary to the surf reports, head high waves began peeling in at New Smyrna Inlet Saturday morning. Brian and I took our homemade "Alaia" boards to the beach with our normal quiver of longboards.
They look huge in this pre-session photo because they ARE HUGE! And for the record that is NOT duct tape at the nose of my board. It's a GLOBE sticker of a skull that I thought would be appropriate considering my prediction of the board breaking and/or becoming water logged and de-laminating upon the initial use with possible injuries. Having a longboarder's mentality I think we were hesitant NOT to make them on the bigger side when it came down to the drawing board. Since then we've seen a few professionally made alaia boards and they are for the most part much smaller and more narrow. Ours are 8 feet long by about 23 inches wide. Brian's is a swallow tail and mine is a squash tail. Now on to the surf!

The first thing noticeable is the SERIOUS lack of floatation. Duck diving through a wave is super easy, but the only problem is the board does NOT bring you back to the surface as a normal surfboard. I thought I would treat myself to a duck dive (a rarity now that I primarily use longboards) and it was the strangest feeling sinking to the bottom with this board below me. Paddling these boards feels like swimming. They are very close to being neutrally buoyant so it takes a lot of energy just to stay in the line up. Catching a wave is not a difficult as I thought, but finding control once up on the board is like learning to surf all over. Our alaia boards are clumsy beasts! They flex so much that they almost feel cushioned under the feet and they tend to yaw back and forth more than I thought. It's hard to get the rails to hold a line. I've surfed a few regular surfboards with the fins removed a few times and these boards are much harder to control.

The current was kicking the day we tested them so after 20 minutes both Brian and I were spent. We each rode 2-3 waves. It was more difficult to find the pocket of the wave and not end up in the whitewash. Brian does not see much fun in the concept with the waves we have to deal with here in Florida. I'm going to experiment a little more and perhaps make one out of real lumber and NOT plywood. Neither my prediction of the alaia boards breaking nor becoming water logged and de-laminating held true. At first I was a little disappointed in the overall outcome and more than happy to surf some fun waves on a normal surfboard, but after a while I realized my accomplishment in the fact that I built a wave riding machine from scratch and successfully surfed it on first try. That's amazing in my book! It's always fun to experiment!

In other news:

I continue to R.I.C.E. my Achilles tendon. Another week with no running and I'm beginning to stress about being ready for the Daytona Half Marathon on November 1. Tendons are SO SLOW to heal. It's downright annoying at this point. I'm riding my bicycle (hate it) and weight training while trying to patiently wait for the injury to GO AWAY!

I also have got to throw out a "hell yeah" to my good friend J-Mo (aka Caution: Redhead Running) who conquered the Chicago Marathon yesterday. It was her very first marathon and she did not stop once, never hit the "wall" and finished with a time of 4 hours and 8 minutes. I am so proud of her and totally stoked!!!!


  1. Making and surfing your own board is cool. Your core score just went up. Next thing you know, you'll be wearing flannel, sporting a beard and socking grizzly bears in the jaw as you charge mutant Canadian slabs.

  2. You should try surfing a coffee table like Slater did in that one video that I can never remember the name of!

  3. Building anything from scratch is amazing in my book. Glad it didn't break.

    And the Redhead did in fact kick arse. Saw it with my own two eyes! LOL!

    Hope that achilles heals soon I know how much injuries suck.