6.10.08

monday ruminations: kenvin and twin keels + nature

It’s Monday and the leaves are flaming as the cold dark mornings grow longer and longer. I wished I’d worn ear protection on the bike commute today as my ears rang through the first half hour of work. Did I say work? It’s all I can do to focus on anything else besides surfing. Lately I’ve been reading about Richard Kenvin. Kenvin is not well known outside of California but his reputation is held in high regard inasmuch as I can tell. He is the man behind the film project titled Hydrodynamica – a historical look into the genius and influence of Bob Simmons. Simmons drowned while surfing at the age of 35. It’s a wonder how things may have been different if it weren’t for Simmons early demise.


(Kenvin, twin keeled in New York on the same weekend that I surfed NY sandbars [franco photo taken from the Hydrodynamica blog])

Last weekend while in New York I was lucky to get to ride a 5’11” Rich Pavel keel fish. The board had the traditional marine ply wood keel fins set parallel to the stringer with no cant or toe. I had never ridden a board that short nor with that fin set-up. The waves were overhead, steep and fast and breaking over a shallow sandbar. I was intimidated and perhaps suffering from a bit of “performance anxiety” as Mick coined it. However, after a few failed attempts I managed to make a wave or two and really feel what the design has been so famous for. Speed. The feeling of controlled speed was like nothing I’d ever felt before on any other surfboard. It’s taken a week for those few rides to settle into my consciousness. A week where I had a chance to surf my entire quiver from the bonzer in perfect eight foot faces, then the green machine modern fish in head high lefts, and finally the 9’6” log in windy knee high slop. Although all of my sessions this past week were great, none quite compared to the Pavel fish session.

So I’ve turned to researching the twin keeled, wide tailed, boards and their exponents. I have always tended to be antisocial in my lifestyle choices. Sometimes out of pure narcissism and other times out of passion and a real interest. I have never been interested in the technical aspects of board sports but rather in the fluidity and grace that is achieved by masters like Tudor and Curran, or Vallely and Gonz. But it seems that in the twin keel Simmons and Lis inspired craft I may have found what I was looking for in terms of speed, fluidity and fit.

I’m fascinated by how we as animals can use tools to move within our environment. Surfing is really as simple as it gets when it comes to being part of the energy that moves the world. We use our energy and intuition to catch waves and then glide down their faces for what is really a trifle in the timeline of our lives. And yet, for some, this trifling moment becomes a beacon towards which our lives are directed. And getting to that light at the end of the darkness is a series of cycles of wind, tide, and seasons, of paddling out and into waves, of morning rituals and checking the weather. The cyclical patterns of a lifelong surfer are not unlike those of any other organism moving through the stages of life. And to find that tool that perfectly fits with your own personal style, your movements, is to shortcut straight to the foothills of the mountain of enlightenment. In these times of turmoil and war I feel sometimes shallow for obsessing with surfing. Mostly however, I feel fortunate to be passionate about life and nature and I am grateful to be stationed in a life that allows me this simplest and most giving of pursuits.

I'll leave with Miles and Sketches

3 comments:

asmith said...

The traditional twin is indeed a fluid, fast ride. I hope you find a nice one and can enjoy!

ras said...

gonna build a hollow a la jensen based on skip's design. it will hapen in stages this winter and I hope to document it here.

walrus said...

yet again you seem to write the the words I need to see at the perfect time, thanks for putting straight whats been bouncing round my head...or maybe its also the three week flat spell we've just had down here..