I bumped into Greg surfing this crazy board a coupla weeks ago and finally tracked him down for some Q&A to reveal the secrets of how something that looks like you should be ironing clothes on it actually rips out in the water. Q: So Greg, I’m a bit concerned you’re taking your domestic duties a bit too seriously! I mean, coming surfing with your ironing board!? This has to be one of the strangest looking boards I’ve ever seen, first up, what do you call it?
A: The Mini Smithy, the general idea being loosely derived from the 'Mini Simmons' of the 1940's.
Q: Take us through its shape and dimensions. To me it looks like someone’s just cut off the front 3rd of a longboard!
A: It's 5'8”long, 20¾”wide and 2⅝”thick. The nose measurement is 18½” and the tail 18” with the tailblock being rounded at 13½”. The tail rocker is very straight with only 1¼” lift, while the nose lift is 3½”. The bottom has a subtle vee'd concave from the front foot running between the fins and off the tail. From the rolled nose rail downwards the rails get a bit boxier with a hard under edge and no tuck passed the fins. I suppose at first glance it does look like a cut off longboard, and I do use a longboard template for the nose, but the rest of the outline is unique to the Mini Smithy.
It can snap pretty neat
It can throw buckets of spray
Q: What inspired you to try making something like this, which is such a radical departure from current convention?
A: Eric Stedman told me to check out the 'Hydrodynamica Project' which involves a group of guys who have been inspired by the shapes of Bob Simmons. The project started in 2002 but attention to it only really sparked in 2007/2008. Now shapers all over the planet are building their own versions of these boards.
Q: Does it have its roots in traditional surfboard design, I mean, did boards like this used to exist back in the day – and you’ve taken an old style and just adapted it? Did you throw in any new-age bottom contours?
A: These designs go back to the mid 1940's. They were created by Bob Simmons who, by 1946 had developed the first twin fin with concaves. By 1948 his experiments were so far ahead that it was said his boards went so fast that they would become airborne. Simmons called these shapes 'hydrodynamic planing hulls'.
You can lay into a bottom turn
Or stick it up in the lip
Q: What’s the fin set-up on it? And how does this influence how she rides? And if you altered the fins set-up how would that change how the board rides?
A: It is a dual keel fin. What surprised me is that this board is not nearly as slippery as the regular twin fins I have made. The straighter outline gives more positive drive and plenty of hold. I have changed the fin position to suit my stance so they have been moved up from the tail and brought in from the rail. There is also a small amount of tow which is more in line with modern design. Fin set- ups offered are 2, 2½, 3 or 4. In general 2 or 4 for smooth frontside surfing and 2½ or 3 for backhand surfing.
It does floaters
Q: So here’s the million-dollar question - how does this board go, and what conditions is she best suited for?
A: With such immediate speed it took me a while to get used to it. Once you get used to the flow it is just amazing. So far I have only surfed 1 – 4 foot point break right-handers (I am a natural footer) and I'd say you want the fastest down the line you can handle. Having said that, my best surfs on it have been at Millers and Seals, which are hotdogging fun waves. So I guess the range opens up depending on how you surf.
Q: Can it still surf OK outside of its “ideal” conditions, or is it pretty specific?
A: This design is fairly specific. Being so parallel I have found surfing in the pocket difficult (admit having caught rail a couple of times). I prefer the board for speeding down the line and more open face turns, especially cutbacks.
It cranks into cutties
Q: Have other guys ridden the board yet, and what’s been your feedback on it so far?
A: My 16 year old son Galad loves it. He doesn't want to give it back!!
Q: If someone wanted to order one, what dimensions would they go for versus their normal board?
A: The 5'8' is probably too long for me so I have already shaped a 5'6”. So I reckon 6 to 8” shorter than your standard thruster or there abouts.
Thanks Greg! So there we have it ou's, the Mini-Smithy - order yours today if you're looking for something to have a jol on in the vlam summer surf. You can get in touch with Greg Smith on 083 230 5531 to order yours.
Greg is now also shaping boards under the Gavin Rudolph label <check em out>