Champagne Glass: The Desert Storm

Stu Nettle
Design Outline

Since the rise of the shaping machines and the acceptance of surfboard models, the focus for replication has largely been on small wave boards. Think Ducks Nuts and Dumpster Divers and Hypto Kryptos and the like, with the odd excursion into fish and step ups. There are, of course, models for big wave boards but for various reason they get less play in the media.

For the last 20 years Wayne Webster has been shaping guns out of his NSW North Coast factory. Around 10 years ago, while working with Twiggy Baker, the two developed the Black Hula, a high-volume gun. More recently Webby has been working with Camel, further developing the Black Hula concept into the forward-weighted, full-outline Desert Storm.

The Desert Storm is a design that's proving both versatile and popular. For a board originally designed to ride the largest waves possible it's found various uses and is now one of the most sought after big wave models.

Swellnet recently chatted with Webby about the Desert Storm.

Tell us a bit about the history of the DS?
Hmmm...it goes way back. I’d been passionate about shaping boards for bigger waves and I’d done a high-volume step-up board, like for six-to-eight foot waves, and also at the time I was shaping for Twiggy [Grant Baker]. This was in the early days of the Big Wave World Tour, like when Twig won it. At the time standard guns were still needle-like, yet Twiggy was right into high volume guns. Every big wave surfer rides them now but he was one of the first guys to recognise the advantages in really big waves.

That work led to the Black Hula. It’s a high volume gun but it still has a lot of rocker in the board, a lot of curve, it just gives you a bit more push when you want the board to push back in bigger waves.

Is the Desert Storm a progression of that?
In a way. The original idea came from working with Camel. He started riding what Twiggy was riding but then through all the conversations we were having the design morphed into something else, which became the Desert Storm. Generally speaking, the idea was to create something that would let surfers catch the largest wave of their life. Or even just to catch the biggest wave that breaks at any serious spot on any day. That’s what it’s made for.

It has more volume in the outline [than the Black Hula] and a flatter deck which hides a lot of the volume.

It’s for guys who are pushing out into 15 foot waves, 20 foot waves, who are thinking to themselves: “Hey, you know what? I want to try and get a really big wave and not be taking off in the lip.” It gives them that extra paddle power, letting them get to the bottom of a very big wave, and sort of get away from that falling lip.

7'6", 8'6", and 9'6" Desert Storms with Webby's old logo

How’s it been working with Camel?
We have chats all the time, where you know, you look at your watch and it's like, "Fuck, we've been talking for an hour and a half!" A lot of people think he's the mad scientist when it comes to boards. I've learned a lot about his ideas and how he views surfboards. You know, you hear all those old stories, Camel and the jungle, getting new boards and cutting tails off and doing things so they work right for him. He's like, "Man, like I used to ride these old 80's-style boards back in the day and I've just been trying to find that feeling again."

So that's sort of what we worked on with the Desert Storms: just healthier outlines, more paddle power, flatter decks, and getting the rockers right.

The Desert Storm has a huge influence from him.

Have you incorporated any design elements to loosen the board up?
Only really the vee. The vee bottom does that. The big Desert Storms are a straight vee, the smaller ones are a vee with a double concave inside that. I find vee is quite underrated. Like, especially when a board gets wide, it tends to want to sit flatter in the water and so it’s harder to get on the rail.  Some designs, they're kind of wide and flat, or maybe they have concave, but they get a real slappy rail-to-rail transition, like it doesn't have any sort of smoothness in the rail-to-rail transition.

The vee just gives it that edge to go over. It doesn’t want to fight the movement. You’re already on a big wave, you’ve got speed, all you want now is a board that’ll facilitate a turn.

6'8" and 7'4" DS with new logos - and what an improvement, eh?

Where’s the Desert Storm been surfed?
It's been surfed pretty much all around the world. The guys that really embraced it at the start were in the colder climates. The South Oz and West Oz guys, so it was surfed across the bottom of Australia. You know, thicker waves, thicker wetsuits, colder water, a lot of paddling. But also San Francisco, Hawaii, NZ, Portugal.

And the design has proved versatile in that it can come right down in size?
Yeah, some guys started with, say, an eight-footer, and they were like: "Well, I really like that but I’ve got a wave close to home that I need the same sort of board yet shorter.” So I’ll do a 6’10” Desert Storm that reduces the length while keeping as much paddle power in the board as possible. People are just stretching the idea out depending upon the waves they want to surf.

But it’s still the same concept?
Yeah. Like those aren’t built to catch the biggest waves of your life, obviously, but it just ticks all those other boxes. It paddles well, captures waves, still surfs well. Like it seems to cover everything.

You’ve even shaped one that’s just 6’2”.
Yeah.

What other dimensions did that board have? How thick was it?
It’s 6’2” by 19 ¾ by 2 ⅞.

So it’s pretty thick.
That’s 39 litres of volume. So even though it's short, it's not super tanky in the outline. Just has a little bit of hidden volume in the outline and the flatness in the deck. Like, I'm looking at the board right now, and it actually feels really good under the arm because the rail isn't super chunky. It's just all that hidden volume in the deck.

6’2” x 19 ¾ x 2 ⅞. - different size, same concept

What waves will it be ridden in?
The little 6’2”? He'll probably surf that as a bit more of an all-around short board for himself around home.

But in general, it could be the sort of board that would fit into under sucking slabs and the like?
Yeah. Like the high volume idea started in big boards for really big waves, but now guys are going with the shorter length for slabbier style waves. Just like big waves, you still need to get into slabs real early.

There are hundreds of surfboard models on the market nowadays but most are small wave boards, the Desert Storm isn’t the only big wave model but it’s arguably the most popular big wave model.
Yeah, I don't know if I'd really sort of say that...

You just being modest?
Well...in the last five or six years gun design has probably changed more than any other surfboard type. People used to think a gun is a gun and it’ll never change, but through the feedback with Camel and other great surfers we’re progressing them. All guns are progressing.

Though that’s kinda funny ‘cos when I go to Hawaii and I look at old Hawaiian guns from the 80s I see lots of ideas that are in the Desert Storm. To me, I love the Desert Storm, but it kind of looks like a progressed, modern version of those boards.

Webster Surfboards on the 'net

Comments

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 11:23am

I remember talking to Camel back in the mid 90's at GLand when he was riding boards he'd shaped himself and likewise the conversation just could have gone on forever. The boards were so big and chunky (and rough) and so different to the boards of the era. But when you saw the way he was riding the boards in critical positions you saw the possibilities.
You look back now and just see he was waaaay ahead of his time.
Stoked to see both Camel and Webby doing well with the boards, reinforces the simple fact that the board is the only ESSENTIAL product required for surfing. (And maybe a good wetty!)

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 11:58am

This is why I come here: great articles, great people, great discussions. Thank you all.

Interview with Camel coming up, yes? :-)

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 1:15pm

Interview? Ah, we'll see...

I've got some great shots of Camel riding some wild ocean on a DS. Keep an eye out for those.

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 12:02pm

the new logo is growing on me, the design is a gem.

That vee gives Cadillac handling at speed in bump.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 12:08pm

The new logo got me at first sight. Love the simplicity and how it can be arranged on the boards, especially his big wave boards. Not so keen on the drop shadow version, just like the simple B&W one.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 12:09pm

Good to hear about the smooth 'suspension', Freeride. That's exactly what I'm after; Wellington is chop/bump/lump city.

derra83's picture
derra83's picture
derra83 commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 12:03pm

I love those beaked noses on the D Storms. Webby and Cam will probably point to the practicalities, how they give all that up front foam for paddling and late drops but I just reckon they look shit hot.

Grizzle's picture
Grizzle's picture
Grizzle commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 1:30pm

Great board.

My 7'6 DS routinely gets unsolicited positive commentary at OB San Francisco (not at the moment, but in Winter when conditions require a bigger board).

I've often been out when other fellas are on their 9fters but the 7'6 DS is working a treat.

Feels so stable, phenomenal for a board to supply such confidence .

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 1:57pm

Last year at big Ulus I saw this short bloke, pretty wiry, in a springsuit, cold water booties and wearing a helmet sitting way out the back. Just had that air about him that he had seen a lot of heavy water, and I reasoned that he was from South West WA. Biggest set of the day comes and he swings and paddles into it super late, no hesitation. I watched him from the shoulder and he barely had a his fins and tails in the wave as he took the drop. He rode that wave until I could barely see him.

Later on in the warungs I inspected his board in the racks: 8'4" and from memory almost 4" thick - as thick a board I've ever seen. It was DS, and I remember thinking "maybe I should get one of these if I'm going to give it a proper crack..". Spent a solid hour trawling the DS thread on here that night, and though I've just thrown down enough moolah to buy a second hand car on a Mitchell Rae (which arrived last week and is bloody beautiful), I'm going to start setting aside a few dollars for a DS too. Great read Stu! Bring on those pics of Camel.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 1:57pm

Stu, did you take one of those beasts to Hawaii?

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 2:10pm

No, never ridden one myself. I had a forward-weighted Free Flight, which broke over there, and also rode a few guns that a mate with us shaped.

SNBSROG's picture
SNBSROG's picture
SNBSROG commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 1:57pm

this design makes so much sence for big waves and then the shorter versions for slabs, good on ya webby and camel, volume is your friend

Ben Dover

shoredump's picture
shoredump's picture
shoredump commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 3:11pm

I waited till I was 40 to get a board over 7 feet. What a mistake that was. Mine is a JD, and went straight into my top 3 boards of all time after the first session. Like these, there’s plenty of volume, which makes it like cheating getting into waves 2 or 3 times overhead. If I was in the market I’d be buying one of these, everything he says sounds like it makes sense.

timmeh's picture
timmeh's picture
timmeh commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 5:20pm

I coulda done with one of those in a 6'6 or so at Cloudy last Saturday!

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 8:03pm

What's the fin placement from the tail on the 8'6"? Heaps of talk on bottom design, no talk on fin placement from the tail. Webby? Stu? Anyone?

PS. Beautiful boards mate. Love the plan shape especially the rounded pin

crg's picture
crg's picture
crg commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 7:49pm

There was a pretty comprehensive design wrap from Camel in the Forum topics just recently on the DS, covered fin placement and mostly everything. Excellent read.

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 8:04pm

Thanks mate, I'll have a read.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Monday, 30 Apr 2018 at 8:05pm

Hey DK, like CRG says, Camel did an exposition on the finer points of the DS which you can read here:

https://www.swellnet.com/forums/shaping-bay/297740?page=7

'Bout halfway down the page.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 12:00pm

OK Stu, probably time to pull the article and pull the thread now. If everyday surfers actually find out that adequate volume in the right places means catching more waves and catching the bigger waves before the lip pitches you, well, that's game over. Any advantage those with sane volume have had will be nullified. And we can't have that.

We need more footage of pros being towed into Kirra with fossil-fuelled help on 25L boards, and maybe a post by BB saying we should all be on 18 1/2 widths, 2 1/4 thicknesses... ;)

mjh's picture
mjh's picture
mjh commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 8:46pm

It’s easy to buy the right board. It’s harder to launch yourself over at the ledge on waves these boards are intended for.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 12:07pm

Ol' mate in today's WOTD could have done with one.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 1:58pm

Haha

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 12:41pm

Last post was tongue in cheek, but to add to it also proper apexed vees in the last half, flat decks and beaks all have a purpose, as do rockers/foils suited to either front or back foot surfers. And adequate lengths.

I'd love to see an article on the boards of the Big Wave world tour, because that's where a lot of the board innovation is going on these days. Watching them on the beach at Nazarre I was spun out at how much of the 70's was in those designs (down tail rails for example), and extra spun out they were quads.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 12:51pm

"I'd love to see an article on the boards of the Big Wave world tour, because that's where a lot of the board innovation is going on these days."

I just shot off an email to Russ Bierke with some questions about his promotion to the Big Wave Tour, including the boards he'll be using. He's on the road, may not have time to elaborate on that point, but if not, I'll follow it up later.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Tuesday, 1 May 2018 at 2:14pm

That would be great.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 2 May 2018 at 12:27pm

Looking forward to that article, Stu.

6'10 Desert Storm in the process of being ordered. Probably 19 1/2 or 19 3/4 x 3. Ooohweee!

Spuddups's picture
Spuddups's picture
Spuddups commented Sunday, 6 May 2018 at 2:55pm

Now you can join me out at some of the local outer reefs aye Island Bay. No excuses now! ;-)

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 8:33am

Big OPP, Spud.

grumpy's picture
grumpy's picture
grumpy commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 7:07am

Great looking board but pretty similar to what Mitchell Rae has done for years at Outer island , more volume , less rocker and fuller noses , tough glass , boards that hate to snap and won't let you down . Add a Flextail and the things go like lightning

AaronS's picture
AaronS's picture
AaronS commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 12:16pm

Some great info in this article & the other DS thread. Just after some specific info regarding quad fins others are using in their DS. From what I can gather smaller Futures fiberglass fins are the go. Looking at the futures site it appears they only do a very limited quad fiberglass range. Any specific quad fin details/recommendations would be much appreciated. Cheers.

Gary G's picture
Gary G's picture
Gary G commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 12:42pm

Gary is always keen to learn more about tail and would appreciate if someone could explain exactly what a flextail is, why they're of advantage, and why only Mitchell Rae uses them.

You and me, Gary, ain’t nothing but mammals so let’s do it* like they do it on the aerobics channel

*faceys

dandandan's picture
dandandan's picture
dandandan commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 1:17pm

To answer your last question: I doubt anyone else has it in them to do it! They take a really long time to do, and they come in at a standard price of $2250. Selling boards at that price usually means building up a few decades worth of relationships and trust with people I'd imagine.

A lot of guys I know that ride them swear by them. They're all really good surfers who surf really good waves, so I'm not sure what they're like for an average surfer.

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 1:11pm

Anyone that has one prefer the thruster set up to a quad in their DS?
I've only read about people running it as a quad.

nicko74's picture
nicko74's picture
nicko74 commented Monday, 7 May 2018 at 2:10pm

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GrciZl9hLuM

Im no sure if this link will work, however it's a mental clip of Camel at Gnarloo a fair while ago.
Enjoy.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 12:51pm

I'd like to just say that Webby is a joy to deal with. Ordered my DS this morning between surfs, and it was a total pleasure. Now for the wait - which I actually enjoy.

goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot's picture
goofyfoot commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 1:01pm

Regarding the flex tail comment above saying that they sell for $2250, I can’t ever imagine handing over that much money for something that could break on the first day you use it

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 1:28pm

wow $2250.........kidding right?

simba

Luke69's picture
Luke69's picture
Luke69 commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 4:26pm

Would the little ones like 6'2 be too floaty for barreling slabs?

filthyphil's picture
filthyphil's picture
filthyphil commented Wednesday, 9 May 2018 at 7:56pm

i don't think so

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 29 May 2018 at 4:36pm

Webbys got a pic up of probably biggest Stringers ever used - No Flex No Snap.

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam commented Saturday, 16 Jun 2018 at 8:17pm

Its not necessarily true a thicker stringer is stronger it might be weak wood. A thinner stringer with a high quality might be better ? Aren't convinced that those huge stringers are stronger but im noticing that theses plenty of xxl guns being made with the big ones . Maybe because they're surfing jaws and nazare the boards need to be stronger, im not sure . Wouldnt be suprised if it just a ploy and theres less laminating done in the overall combo, so end result same strength , (but more dings to fix from the weaker shell)

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Monday, 11 Jun 2018 at 9:20pm

Well priced 6'2 DS for sale in the hunter area.
New logos so can't be very old.

https://www.gumtree.com.au/s-ad/belmont-north/surfing/surfboard-6-2/1186...

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Tuesday, 12 Jun 2018 at 7:28am

Thats a Bargain well under half new price.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Friday, 15 Jun 2018 at 6:38pm

Now $290.

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Saturday, 16 Jun 2018 at 8:22pm

.

Clam's picture
Clam's picture
Clam commented Saturday, 16 Jun 2018 at 8:26pm

Jinx udo, sorry ! Transferred to the discussion thread udo, I still prefer that one for talking design

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo commented Saturday, 16 Jun 2018 at 8:26pm

Yep saw that..gd idea.