The Neal Purchase Jnr 'Quartet' - lost and found
Have you seen the O'Neill clip that's been floating around the Internets this past week? Featuring Jason 'Salsa' Salisbury, it's all Indonesian exotica, casual styling, and hearty barrels. Standard, yet well presented, Internet fare.
What isn't standard is what Salsa is riding. While watching the clip my inner tyre-kicker came to life: "What is that board he's riding?" I asked to no-one in particular. It looked like a mix of low-rockered downrailer, the kind of board you would've seen passing through Denpassar customs circa 1975, blended with a modern outline in the short, wide, hide-the-volume, manner.
Then there was the fin config - a quad, just to further confound the issue - and finally, the spray and decals - nought but bog white top and bottom. It may as well have been Curren at Backdoor 'cept it wasn't, it was Salsa in Indo on a board that betrayed nothing.
So I asked the question again: "What is that board he's riding?" Yet this time I directed it at some people who knew:
Jason 'Salsa' Salisbury: "The board I was riding throughout most of the clip is a Neal Purchase Jnr quad fin. He called it a Quartet. I cant remember exact dimensions but its around 5'7 x 19' 1/2 x 2' 1/4. It's an eggy double ender with a unique cluster of fins; two big twinny-esque fins at the front and two small trailers nestled in their shadow.
I've had a couple of these boards from Purcho now. They have all been super similar just a few slight tweaks on the bottom. I've had one for two years. Two full indo years and its still kicking on - amazing! It's fuckin' ugly looking now but it still goes nuts. Old faithful. I've snapped the two big fins out twice and had tennis ball size pieces of reef lodged into it. Regular trips to the doctor and a couple of afternoons with the ding fix kit and she's been my best mate for years.
It has so much drive. I remember after my first surf on it I spoke to Purcho about the drive and he was like, "Yeah, you'll blow both your knees before it slides out on you." He aint joking. You can enter a turn with as much power as you have and it will hold. If you keep enough pressure on your back foot you can totally lay it over leaning right back and it will drive through the arc and scoop you up on its way past. It's an epic feeling!
It goes nuts in the tube too. I've always loved quads in the tube, especially fast down the line ones. Quads in general seem to have that real nice hold on the face and way more stability than thrusters when you're deep on the foamball. Plus it lets you take off late, whip the nose up and get a huge thrust at the same time. Then you can sit high on the wall without your tail dropping out.
It has enough nose to let you move around. You can get forward off the fins and steer through sections a little smoother than when you're right back on a board.
I've surfed it in everything from 2 foot beachies to solid 8 foot slabs and it feels good. I love this board. Shame it's ready for the grave, haha.."
Neal Purchase Jnr: "The design came from riding and experimenting with twinnies around 2009 using MR-style fins. I really like the speed they had but the ones I rode spun out through a carve, so I moved the fins back to 7 1/2 “ from the tail and they felt quite good. I just wanted a bit more stability without going to a longer based, bigger keel twin. I was riding those for ages around 2001-2004 in the Fish renaissance.
So I added the smaller back stabilisers, and moved them up to 6 1/4 for the back fins and 10 1/2 for the fronts. Actually the front fins were at 10 3/4 originally then after a few trials I preferred a more clustered set up at 10 1/2 . They are both the same cant, and both towed 2” from the nose. Together they are really drivey and predictable. I've always liked clustered fins, they release a lot faster and they pivot nice in the pocket. Fins that are spread out tend to work against each other through a turn and slow you down. So being clustered they almost still feel like a twin fin except with way more drive.
The fins have to be glass ons which is hard for the sanders, but there isn’t a fin system strong enough to hold the front MR fins. It’s these G-forces and drive which accelerate and catapault you out onto the face and out of turn, with the smaller back fins guiding and releasing with a controllable fin area. The big front and smaller back actually naturally want to turn when pressure is applied.
I actually like a full round tail for an all rounder, but Salsa saw a double-ender pin tail I did for a Nick Chalmers and wanted one of those. I thought it could be cool for Indo too with the pin stabilising the fin set up. I used the same nose template for the tail. He had been riding single fins and all sorts of boards, and I have been there too so we kinda had that connection I guess. I saw some footage of him in that Tracking movie, which was beautifully shot, but I could see the boards holding him back. He’s a great surfer, tube rider and stylist. I could see a lot of myself in him actually - ha!
The size, shape and area of the board had been based off what I’d been making for years with a formula of compact volume and area, 3-4 inches shorter and around an inch or so wider than standard short boards. It's meant to work in a broadrange of conditions. I was incorporating a lot of old templates of my fathers, and MP-like stuff in the outline with the wide point 2” forward 'cause they are shortish boards. They have a bit of hip in the tail outline around the fins for release.
Lower rocker in a smaller board, for paddling and planing and you can over power 'em. The Quartets are best surfed shortish. The bottom shape is slight vee or flat entry, to single or double concave around front foot, going to slight spiral vee in the tail, I think all twinnies and quads need a bit of vee around the fins. All very subtle though, around a 1/8 ", not like most deep modern concaves or old vee bottoms you see around. The volume foil is forward with the thickest area being around the chest for paddling - more traditional, I guess. The deck is slightly rolled to a low softish rail.
They were made for general East Coast Australian conditions. Good for point stuff too. They excel in the barrel, I think most quads do. With those large side fins hugging the face you can sit up higher and go faster without a back single fin slipping."