Spotted a picture of you standing at Seals with a finless board! What’s the story there? First up, who shaped the board, and why’d he leave the fins off? Just couldn’t find his fin key?
DGS – Derek Girven Surfboards from Durban. Unlike a wooden Alaia this model has 5 stringers and a quadruple concave. Absolutely no rocker though. Not sure how the board came about.
Is this the first time you’ve surfed fins-free?
My first surf board ever when I was 14 had no fins, it was supposed to but someone had knocked the fins out! Since then it’s been fins all the way.
It must feel kinda weird to be without those lil guys – take us through a wave, from take-off to kick-out...
The first challenge is just paddling the board as it is only 1cm thick and has very little buoyancy. Once you get going the best is to take off sideways. Stand up normally but crouch really low like a body boarder would do standing up. Too far back and the tail slides out, too far forward and you nose dive. The board goes superfast down the line but don’t try pumping as this won’t generate speed. You kinda have to change your whole mind set on how to surf, it is a refreshing change.
How does it handle the drops – you find yourself sliding out a lot?
Being so flat you can’t paddle down the wave or you will nosedive. Sliding is a given, it’s how you control the sliding that makes it fun.
Throw down any 360 spinners?
Not intentionally and didn’t make any! The rails are so hard you have to be careful not to land on the rail as there could be some serious consequences.
How’d you end up with the board to start with?
I was at Alister Browns’ place in Seals discussing some board shapes. Next thing he pulls out the board and says I should give it a go. Not one to pass up a challenge, it took me a couple frustrating sessions before I finally made it to my feet. I did not figure I would use it much in Cape Town so have left it with Terry Billson who lives next to The Full Stop (pub not rock!). Hit him up if you are keen to give it a go. Alister has donated the board to “anyone who is brave enough to give it a go!”
Other than Derek Hynd, have you seen anyone local rock on these things?
DH claims to have not surfed a board with fins for 10 years! His boards have deep concaves that act as fins though. Remy Petersen inspired me to give a go. He was out at Supers on a 4’ day catching loads of waves and really having a good time. Surfing on his backhand at Supers he has the “going backwards in the barrel” pretty wired. I have heard that he puts in a lot of time though.
Would you see yourself trying it again – or is it more like “OK, ticked that one off the list, move on...” kinda vibe?
We had so many waves at Seals over the holidays that I figured it was worth a bash. I will definitely put some more time in when we are back at Easter when the waves are small and soft.
Any chance of ever trying it out in Indo!?
A: I wouldn’t go so far as to schlep one over but if there was one on the boat I would put some time in. Not at HT’s or any of the recognised breaks as you don’t make any mates on an Alaia when you blow take offs! Not as bad as a SUP’er though!
So there you have it ou's - you wanna go finless like Chappy? Just go find Terry to borrow the board. The challenge is oooooon!