Tom Curren x Greg Webber
The name of this column is 'The Rearview Mirror' which implies looking back to the past, and indeed that's what I do in the following article.
However, it's not the full story. Recently a board that was shaped in the mid-90s resurfaced and sparked a bit of interest. The concepts it incorporates will soon be applied to a contemporary craft.
Once again it's a modern take on an old idea, yet the players involved in this story make it anything but cliched.
Swellnet: What year did you shape that board?
Greg Webber: '94 I think.
Was it built with a particular wave in mind?
Point waves. But I actually made it for myself and Curren saw it when I was at Noosa and asked me if he could have it so I said yes.
What dimensions is it?
7' x 17½" x 2 3/16" with 'GW for Anyone' written on the bottom.
Really? Were you looking for a test rider?
No, not really. I just guessed someone would want it one day and that was why I made it in the first place. It's the third one I think. I just didn't expect it would disappear to another country that's all. I didn't mind if it was just some competent surfer who was into the way it felt, it was an odd enough looking board that I knew it would get found by someone a bit unusual
Concaves under the hood?
Yes, full concave from nose to tail.
Extreme rocker is used to fit the curve of bowly waves, but what about the drawn out pintail in this example? Is it for drive?
The idea is to have the curve to suit carves on a four to five foot waves but when you get it on rail you have much more rail line in the water so the hold is increased while the line you draw is not decreased. So you get much more hold and retain the same manoeuvrability.
And the fins being so far up the board, I'm assuming to pivot, and in that way complement the fin configuration. Is that right?
The fins are in the normal position in relation to area. The back of the front fins are at about 13 ¾" of tail width, which is at approximately 11" on a normal shortboard but it's at about 17" on this. The tail curve, which is the extension, sits flat to the face when you turn off the top, so there is still something left at the tail to feel the face with. And with the tail not being there your back foot is within inches of the tail block.
It creates a lot more feel and forgiveness at the top, and a lot more rail at the bottom. Oh yeah, as you go up the face that last bit of tail sitting flat to the face still planes since you are going quite fast and so it you retain speed up the face.
What was Curren's feedback at the time?
Zero feedback in 20 plus years, but that wasn't part of the deal. He said, "Can I have this" and that was that. As if I'm saying no, irrespective of feedback.
Did he mention how it paddled? Looks like it may push some water.
No they don't push water any worse than a modern short board. The extended tail has no bearing on the pushing effect and the nose rocker isn't silly.
I'd like to explain one part of the banana rocker concept that has never been understood or discussed before. Most people see the increased rocker and understandably relate to the amount of curve more than where that curve has actually been placed.
Of course increasing the rocker of the bottom of the board is key to determining the arc of the lines that can be drawn, but the corresponding effect that this rocker has on the deck rocker, at the dead centre on the deck, is that the flex of the board is increased dramatically. The whole stiffening "foam sandwich effect" - which is what a surfboard is, i.e. foam at centre and fibreglass either side - is virtually destroyed when the centre of the board is no longer straight in terms of rocker.
When you try to bend the board and increase rocker with a flat rockered board all the forces are transferred into trying to compress the deck, since the fibreglass on the bottom doesn't like being stretched. If the deck has a flat rocker it will resist this compression, if it's curved then it can't resist the forces so well and it will flex.
I'd say rocker in surfboards has two to three times more effect on flex than any structure itself. Once you understand the effect shape has on flex then playing with materials and structures will be incredibly fun.
If you could build a modern version what would you change?
Smoothen everything so that the nose and middle and tail are all following the same curve.
Well, you're building one for Robbo (Adam Robertson), has he asked for one exactly the same as Curren's or are you going to make the modern changes on it?
It'll be very similar, but the fins were never right for it. Modern tri-fins are like little pegs on that thing so I'm going to do it as a quad with the flexing raked front fins and the flexing keel tails fins to accentuate the swooping feel.
Postscript: This board ended up in South Africa (see J'Bay footage below) and now resides at The Boardroom, Port Elizabeth, under the care of Dennis Ellis.
Post-postscipt: Another model hangs in Surfworld Torquay. Of that board, Robbo said he's "looked at it for about twenty years and wanted to ride it so badly. So I asked if Greg would make another one and he said he'd design one up." Stay tuned...
Footage from 'What's Really Going Wrong' courtesy of ...Lost Enterprises.
Saw Michael Mackie with a similar concept on the south coast sometime around then.
Yeah Greg showed me his one I was impressed with the concept so I had Midget Farrelly glue me up a special blank and made a 7,2 version for myself.
I found it went well in punchy wedgey style waves e.g. breakwall style waves.
Its hanging in the from window of AKWA in Milton now I gave it to Kurt there.
You could adapt it into a few different versions for todays young rippers,that would be interesting.Greg Webber was and is a forward thinker/// look at his concave stuff everyone sorta wrote off at the time,now look at whats under most modern boards these days,ha. make use of him peoples.He also made me some great boards when I was young before I even started shaping when he shaped for Terry Fitzgerald at Hot Buttered circa 82/83. started learning from Terry in 1984 so he has been at it a while old Greg.
Funny, I was going to say it looks like something Mick Mackie would make. I like the idea of longer rails for drive but fins up the board to pivot, if I was looking for a mid-length I'd rather tinker with this idea than traditional (late-60s) shapes.
I like these articles: I totally understand the theory on shape effects flex….guess the bottom shape also is a factor in how much true rocker there is could be deceiving might be heaps of rocker through the rails but not the the centre of the bottom due to the concave from nose to tail flattening it out.
That might be the worst I have seen curren surf . & even then he's still good
Probably not the ideal wave for that board. MM said it was better in wedges.
Pity theres no footage of curren in wedges bb thats true but curren has a method to the madness & thats what the footage is & it looks slow as & narrow ?
I agree he's not surfing great and board doesn't look like its going very well but to be fair that wind also looks strong, sometimes its not about if the board actually goes good or better than a standard board though, sometimes its just about a different feeling or learning something from a weird board or just knowing how something weird will feel or go…i always liked that about Curren he was always willing to ride any board Kellys the same i guess….in reality most of us probably couldn't even ride the that board, that tail does my head in just looking at it.
Ha ha...the more I think about it the more I want to try one! The way I view it, it's just a standard board - same curves, same fins, and you stand with the same foot placement - but the tail has that extension on it. Because of the tail rocker the extension only engages when the board is on rail in a curvey part of the wave - say coming off the bottom. So you've got more rail when you need it.
Yeah that's right stu , id . Curren has ridden more wacky boards than Kelly that I have seen . Definitely would appreciate seeing either of them ride rad bds . Good to see these funky bds & I see curren has been on the alaia in picture recently . Both ends of the spectrum certainly i.d. . Good reckoning
I don't know much of anything about board design but this just looks totally slow and gives him no drive off the top or bottom ?? And its Tom Curren !!
Christ if I rode this thing - I'd just be floundering around. Maybe some ideas are best left as ideas ?
Memory might fail me here, because at the time there was a lot of pre-surf and post-surf joints getting smoked but I thought MM surfed really good on his......I think I saw him surfing that really good reef near Lake Burrill.....and the board seemed to work really good for him.
the proof is in the video , one of the worst I have ever seen TC surf. Seems like because Tom rode it , lets make a model and see if other surfers want to surf like him in the video,NOT!
For sure the fins are in wrong place
3 - 8" finboxes needed to fine tune that thing.
And a wave pool.
Love the inspiring comments!
last place on earth , you will get positive comments , especially when the visuals do not show any real performance , in fact could be a lack of performance why everyone is so negative,try getting some footage to back up the claims!
You need to get Clay Marzo on one these.
I'm thinking backhand in short sectioning dredging barrels.
Thats what I said get the younger Gen on them see what happens?
Hard to say Tom isn't surfing well on it.He seems to fit it into a couple of classic tight bottom turn top turn combos to me and he was just feeling it out,remember it was 23 years ago also.
Was a long time ago but I remember seeing Herro on a banana rockered board ay DY doing lighting fast up and down carves in steep rip bowls. Amazing stuff.
20 odd yrs ago with a 40 knt offshore, he did well on it.
A fresh offshore wind at jbay is a recipe for success ! , try watching shaun or tf at jbay 35 plus yrs ago ! Poor excuse for going slow ! Pathetic to say that he is going slow becos of the wind lol !
Herro was ripping on his banana board but the fins weren't so far up the board . Different model methinks
But Shaun was probably on a 7'2 or longer which weighed twice as much.
Watched clip again .waves are slow , curren surfs good . Board looks a bit narrow and not drivey enough .
Ah thats the first time you have agreed that a heavy longer board works better ( sometimes) udo !
Lead sled was what you called them in a discussion a few months back udo
Always ride a longer board Caml....and always glassed to last.
Wasn't lead sled referring to 6x6x6x6x6 glassjob.
There was no specific amount of 6oz . I said get ya board glassed stronger & u said lead sled as in a derogatory way .
Anyways I think if the board in story here went good then why would the whole world gone flatter & wider & thicker after the bananas rockers ? I reckon these gw bananas are ok ( herro for example ) but this clip of curren in particular isnt very flash . Gregs conc tail bds changed my life in 1990/91 when I first rode one I was hooked ! So don't get me wrong . But they weren't bananas they good ones concave tails 6"0 / 6"2 length I rode em for about 3 yrs .
Caml ,and you said lead sled ..I like that .
Well it was good to see you understand a heavy board may go faster than a light one . I didn't think you thought that way
momentum = mass * velocity
The planshape looks fine, but not the rocker and fins.
Adam Robbo, two waves at Bells on a Webber modern banana board:
Carving, Greg W tell us about the dims of this board, is he using curved fins ?
Here you go Udo:
6'0 x 19 x 2 1/2 - Rounded square, single concave, Banana 2015 model. Not sure about fins.
It's an almighty hack, eh?
Love the vertical foam climb too. They're harder than they look!
The hacks are awesome though. Jeez Robbo's got a great rail game.
Dims as above, single flyer, rounded square, normal DL fins. Here's a pic:
hack is awesome. Whats apparent is the drive he gets out of the second part of his roundhouse. as soon as he gets it on the heelside rail he loads the tail up with pressure and get a bunch of drive back up into the wash.
First off Curren isn't going slowly nor badly. I'm not blinded because it's my board, how could I be, I haven't even mentioned the banana for over 20 years so I'm not at all attached to any of these things emotionally. It's just a board and there's some interesting footage of a great surfer riding it. So maybe just have a closer look at the video again and imagine the kinds of turns he would normally be doing on his lower rockered standard shapes. They would be fluid and smooth and on rail but also limited to somewhere between 3rd and 4th gear. This board is giving him a chance to find slightly different lines on a wave he knows so well. Probably why he wanted it an rose it. To suggest there is some marketing agenda by posting this is almost moronic. Why would I wait this long to not even make mention of him riding the board? Anyway, the better curren got at reading waves the less he pumped for speed (like he did as a kid) whereas someone like Potts would just prioritise speed at all costs and would pump crazily for speed and go hacking into more radical turns. So giving a super smooth controlled surfer a board that allows for wilder turns seems like a good idea. However it can scatter that kind of surfer at first. And just like kelly when he first rode the new bananas last year, Curren also rode too far back initially and had a few issues. I said to kelly that the whole idea is to stand a bit further forward than you might think and use the entire front rail. He tried that and it worked immediately. See the massive rail carve in the pics on the webber surfboards FB page. No gagging ,no spray off the inside rail off the ankles, yet the entire rail is completely buried. In fact he commented and said that now he gets why I was putting a more solid rail forward of half way, it's so you can carve fully off the front. So these boards have a rocker that is very similar from nose to tail and so you can put the entire rail in without the water having to go around more than one curve. This means that you will go faster. So the speed from a banana is more to do with the similarity of curve from nose to tail than the amount of rocker. And for the last 20 years nearly everyone has been distrcated by the degree of curve but not the nature of it which is totally understandable. We will always notice the obvious before the subtle hidden things. The extended banana that Curren rides in this clip was designed as an expreiment to see how far we could go in extending rail line while maintaining maneuverability. To see how it would feel to that have even more rail in the water than normal but with greater manuevrability at the same time. Pretty much the opposite of normal design thinking where you want more rail to give hold and drive in bigger waves. Which is only to do with paddling in and not increasing hold as proven emphatically by the tiny size of tow in boards. So final point is that the increased grip is from a few factors some I've mentioned, and one that's less known which is to do with increased curve is that you are pushing a smaller section of board into the wave than if it was flatter rockered and so your weight feels almost doubled since you can completely dominate that section of rail and jam it in. But unlike a board which only has a tiny section of board to surf on, a banana has these extensions front and back that stabilise the whole thing. As you ride up the face and put pressure on the tail you have an extended surface that actually planes for a moment just before yo hit the lip and so this adds more speed again for another reason. There's another two really significant factors to do with matching curves and flex but this will no doubt be enough for swellnet readers to sift through.
So Greg would it be fair to say that the banana boards were important in the transition from the seventies and eighties style of race down the line and slam one big carve to the modern style of carving through every turn?
Not really, since carve surfing has always been done by some of the top surfers since boards got short enough to fit into the wave face. And also the banana was totally rejected and even blamed for ruining Shane Herrings career so it had no impact after that.
What was being changed was how tight a rail turn could be done in the tighter top part of the wave. The banana allowed for much tighter rail turns but when the flatter rockers were chosen as against the higher rocker of the banana style, then the best surfers adapted and just flattened off the top turn and put the fins out. This allowed for a pivotal super tight rotation of the board and because the fins of the board broke free of the top of the wave and people could see fins flying through the air then this was just snazzy enough to make people forget about what herring had just shown everyone.
So if I understand correctly , the banana pivots and doesn't carve out of the top?
Sorry if I didn't make that clear, it's the other way around, the banana does the tighter rail turn and the flatter board has to be pivoted. The Shane herring footage shows it clearly. As does the recent Adam Robertson turns at Bells only weeks ago.
Phew a good but very hard read ......Paragraphs please Gregory
And some rocker pics of Adam Robbos board.
Good spray GregW. Appreciated.
Thanks for that, Greg.
Sorry fellows have a poor signal where I am so might not get back to replying for a day or so
I think your English teacher instructed you back to front.
Every too and to is wrong haha ;)
Nice job on the two, however.
"I don't judge.....and laugh when people in the rat race judge me.....lol"
Rat race? Judgment or assumption?
Good to read gregs news . I wont argue , he knows stuff that I dont
I had a Webber semi banana for a while. If your back foot was way back on the sweet spot it carved a super tight cuttie that felt great. Same with off the tops. This suited waves with power to stand way back. When I trimmed a little further foward and turned from there I often felt the fins lose their bite and I was sort of turn on the middle rail which sometimes sort of slipped midway through the turn till the fins bit again - bit disconcerting and not what suits average beach breaks. Did not stick with it. Interestingly I can totally remember a couple of cut backs and a particular off the lip carve I did 20 years later which says somethimg.
A valid design for say A frame barrelling peaks or sucking bowly reef waves.
The yootoob footage of Shane Herring on quality waves on a banana still has a few turns that beat 99% of what the pros do today. Worth looking at.
Just read this post from Greg explaining why he sometimes designs 'extreme' features in boards (post appeared on the Webber Surfboards page in reponse to a twin fin with huge 15" flexing fins):
"Just to explain more fully it's really just a matter of making something in the extreme to feel the effect in an exaggerated way so that you can then distinguish between a number of overlapping but different factors that might have the same end result when put into a balanced package. e.g. low hard rails and large deck roll can result in similar levels of responsiveness but which one is doing what and when, when there is an overlap."
Yes a method to the madness . I know the drill stu