100,000 Becker twin fins

I have no way of verifying these facts pulled from a swaylocks discussion board, but I thought they were interesting enough to share.
Phil Becker has hand shaped over 130,000 boards.
He does not do interviews and shuns the press. 
He has never worn a watch, or owned a TV. 
He shapes 44 boards a week in the same shaping room he started in in 1958. 
He does not believe in contract glass shops, so all of his boards are glassed in his adjoining factory. Single, with no kids, he splits his time between his Hermosa Beach duplex with his vacation surf homes in Hawaii and Costa Rica. 
He does one custom appointment a day, where he shapes the customer's board from start to finish. 
If you were to count all the steps he has walked to shape those 130,000 boards it equates into walking from his factory in Hermosa Beach California to New York and back three and a half times.

I am happy to share these pics of my 6'2" double fly swallow tail twin fin. Flat deck, full volume, soft rails and with a deep vee that peaks between the fins and runs all the way to the nose.

Double fly mini swallow tail

Very flat deck, almost scooped.

Deep vee through the tail swallow vee that extends right through the nose making the board almost look like a boat.

2510 of 100,000

The board went good on the lefts. Full rail bottom turn.

Fast and loose
I'm enjoying some of the unusual angles the waterproof camera gets. The shadow of my figure on the face of the waves looks like creature from Close Encounters of the third kind.
The extra width through the middle of the board really helps it float up and over the foam. 
The river mouth sand banks were producing some long hollow lefts.
The rights off the break wall were also nice and long and fast
This board was loving the glassy conditions on the backhand
Co-incidentally I bumped into this double fly swallow tail Becker at Bird's Surf Shed on the very same day.

Mission Statement part 2.

As I endovour to share more acurate measurements of the boards I find and test I have been lucky enough to get some great advice on how to document the spesifics of a surfboard from John in Victoria.
His story, insights and words of wisdoms are so interesting I thought it would be great to share the whole stream.

John wrote to say- "I happened across your blog via Swellnet and must say I'm so very stoked you have taken this focus and shared this with the world.

I happen to be the owner of a G and S surfboards by Solness, 6' single fin,  (similar to this one) I've had it for around 12 years and picked it up on the Gold Coast.

6' x 20 1/4" x 2 3/4", aspect ratio of 3.6:1 length to width.  High refinement in the shape: rails don't feature the tucked under edge until after the big, broad based 5 3/4 base, 7 1/8 high fin.  Fin leading edge located 11 3/4 from tail from memory.  
As a shaper myself I analysed the board this weekend: the shaping is formidable.  Rocker is 4 1/2 in the nose and 1 3/4 in the tail; foil thickness is very exact: at every 3 inch measurement along the stringer on the bottom the foil thickness comes out as a precise imperial measurement, 3/4, 1 1/2, 1 3/4 etc etc.  The rails are absolutely beautiful.  It also features something of an 'S' deck in foil so as to increase foam under the riders' feet.  I have learned this is a key aspect for a board to perform well for recreational surfers.  

It has volume for me to surf, and it's a lively kitten compared to the (free) 1973, 6'5" Brothers Nielsen "White Pointer" single fin (shaped by Tony Eltherington) I learned on as my first board.  It turns on a much shorter arc, the higher tail area in planshape allows for more float (Geoff McCoy was right) and more of the board under your feet increasing ability to turn.  It features a light vee I haven't measured yet.
I'd date it at around 1979 or 1980, so to me it's really special, for it marks the apex of single fin design before the Thruster became the choice of many surfers.  

Lastly, thankyou for mentioning Al Byrne's channel bottoms.  My second board was a 1988 Byrning Spears 6'3" 6 channel shaped by Thornton Fallander - which I sold after my brother's mate snapped it.  Two years ago I got Al to shape a 6'5" '1988' replica of it, and that board is fantastic.  It has a feel somewhere between a single and thruster, the grip and 'train track' like direction adding to my enjoyment in clean waves. Additionally, it can be taken up into the lip at will, can be surfed very directionally.  I prefer the channel setup to a single to double concave although Len Dibben tells me the S-D-C is by far preferable...

I replied:
"Its great to hear from an experienced shaper. One who understands what actually going on with the board. I hope I can ask you some questions in the future about board design so I can communicate more clearly about the designs I find. 

For instance when you talk about rocker and you say a board has 4" lift in the nose and 1" lift in the tail how do you measure that? How come it doesn't have 2.5" in the nose and 2.5" in the tail. I have built a box with holes for the fins to poke thru so I can more accurately measure the boards but rocker is the tricky one.  How do you do it?"
John wrote back:
"A little background is in order.  I began to surf at 15 in about 1990 and heaps more so in 1992 when I graduated and got a car.  Slater wafer thin boards were all the rage.  Longboards hadn't come back on the West Coast.  Needless to say, you either had a beat up 70's-80's board or it was impossible to surf the new boards.  I was lucky with the Brothers Nielsen single fin, which my mates fobbed off as "the beast".  I also loved my Byrne 6 channel thruster. 

When it came time to replace the BN, I discovered no one was shaping single fins.  So I undertook this myself, starting from absolutely no knowledge in 1992.  My 3rd attempt was a very good replica, and I surfed it all over between Margarets and Geraldton.  Spun a few people out!  The volume and stability of the single were a huge benefit to me and made me a back foot surfer.

My girlfriend's dad had two 1962-66 9'3 Cordingleys sitting in a machinery shed on the farm and when I first paddled into a wave on them, I was hooked on longboards.  I was lucky Len Dibben began making me longboards in 1996 and this saved me as well, for in Perth you have the choice of closeouts for shortboards at Trigg, or longer rides for longboards on the Cott reefs in winter.  I chose the latter and it kept me surfing when a lot of my mates gave up.

After making a few boards, I decided that to get the bottoms really perfectly 1mm tolerance flat, I'd make a rocker machine.  I heard Wayne Lynch did this in the 70's, and so undertook this endeavour (as a History undergrad, with no trade skills) painstakingly and deliberately, drafting all parts and building them with no pictures or guide, just a vague description.  The appeal was great - every board to come out with a similar rocker, therefore a similar feel.  It is where quality begins, I thought.  Also ringing in my ears were some of Dave Parmenter's wise words on the crucial nature of rocker, and MP's brutal and effective rocker shaping techniques, like he said "95% of it is the board".  I made a single fin rocker, a frame, an overhead frame to mount a router, and succeeded.  I then sold single fins in Barrie Sutherland's Perth shop from about 2000 to 2005, but to be honest, my shaping still had much to learn although the boards themselves looked nice.  

I had hell with blanks, the only ones that would take anything near single fin volumes back then were Burford 68KK's.  My rockers and rails would overshape, leading to easily dinging rails.  Now in 2013, Burford has reissued 70 DONs from the 1970's.  I have one in the shed now and am doing rockers for a 7 foot pintail Bells board.  In addition, Midget's surfblanks reissue 1970's heavier density foam that can be shaped into further, allowing a mix of individual design and durability to not be mutually exclusive.  I'd guess that a 6'0 Solness type boards would come out of a 64ish funboard/fish and would best be in their thicker foam (orange?  black?) for durability, although the Solness board was shaped/glassed light.

I also began to make copies of hisorical outlines and rockers I came across, again with a 1970's bias.  I now have 20 years of these, and my own developments.  I'd like to put them all online one day, like an "online library" of board design, an open source thing.  As far as teaching analytical shaping, it's not difficult. Rockers are very individual - two 4 1/2" inch nose rockers can use completely different curves to achieve this.  

Rail profiling tool I made
As a method, if the board has no fins, you can lay it on a flat, concrete surface.
If it has fins and you measure, the weight of the fin will distort the nose rocker up and the tail rocker down from where the shape would have them.  Better is to lie it flat upside down and get a straight edge along the stringer.  Use a 90 degree measure (like a big protractor) to measure overall nose and tail rocker lengths.

Rocker measurement method 1966 Cord single fin (difficult with domed bottom) - does not include 90 degree tool with pencil/pacer
But really they are only endpoints.  The best way to measure a rocker, qualitatively, is put the board on its side at 90 degrees on some clean drafting paper on a flat surface, supported by a chair or otherwise.  Be precise.  Lock it in position.  Then get a 90 degree ruler and attach a pencil at its outside angle (ie the corner).  Now trace the bottom rocker very deliberately with this drafting tool onto the paper on the floor... Check it: did you get the same nose kick and tail kick as when measuring upside down?  You can use the straight edge to make a line between these points, and when all goes well it will intersect the board at its rocker apex (usually midpoint on bottom.)

If happy with this, take wax off the deck and then measure the deck rocker onto the paper on the floor while the board is on its side.  Domed decks/bottoms make this process harder, but not impossible."

Excellent advice, thank you John from Victoria.

The trouble with thrusters.

Sometimes I should just keep my big mouth shut!

A board was brought to my attention by a close Friend who was in the middle of negotiating its purchase. 
No doubt if he had been successful it would have gone to a good home where it would have been loved and appreciated.

Instead I blogged it and even though I pulled the story down from boardcollector, Col Bernisconi from Tracks picked it up an re-posted it.

The good news is we now know the history of the board and where its going to be for the next two years.
The following are a couple of the comments from tracksmag.com.au

Saturday, 16 February 2013- Rachael
"This board was made for Warren Powell a hot young Victoria junior from the 1980's. 

He rode the board at the Bells comp but not the big one. 
It will be going into Surfworld Museum Torquay for all to enjoy."

Wednesday, 13 February 2013 - Teamenergyowner
"This board is currently in my possession. It did not sell on eBay for $49, I had an amazing amount of responses within 10 minutes so I pulled the listing because I knew it must be something greater than what I thought. I do have a buyer but after reading this now I am unsure of what to do."

At the same time Henry wrote to me from the UK with pics of two early 80's Energy thrusters from his collection.

Very nice spray with unusual looking pulled in rounded pin tail.

This one he found in Bristol. 
I remember talking to Mike Newling in 1990 about how he and his brother surfed some of the biggest waves of their lives in the British Isles. Being only aware of the comps at Fistal, I was very skeptical at the time. 
We now know that Britain and Ireland have some fantastic big wave spots. This board could well be one of Newling brothers pioneering UK big wave boards, as its what they would had with them and been riding at the time, and would explain the stress fractures you would get bouncing down the face of a 20ft Atlantic bomb.

Mr Red

I was very excited to get my hands on this 6'2" MR twin fin I found in North Carolina. It was shaped in 1979 by Robin Prodanovich at the Gordon and Smith factory in San Diego. Robin shaped at G and S for 9 years and worked closely with Mark Richards on this Californian version of his twin fin design. He later went on to found his own label and shape for Nectar, Linden, Rusty, Local Motion and South Coast Surfboards.

I've been riding the board and it goes great. The wide point is a little furthur forward than the later twin fins in my collection, which I really like. More width and foam under your chest picks up waves really easy and the narrower tail is a little stiffer but can be pushed a lot harder through the turns. In that way it is a lot like my Bob McTavish shaped Sky twin fin that can handle some really big waves.

In Simon Anderson's book 'Thrust' Mark Richards says "I never really understood why people had trouble with twin fins. It seems they were under the misconception that you have to nurse them or they would spin out, but in fact the harder turned the better they held in, especially in hollow waves. It was a bit harder on a fat wave, you had to be more careful how you set your edge. The big thing people had trouble with on the twin fin was surfing backhand, and that might have been what brought the popularity of them undone. Backhand it was hard to get them on a rail, but once you did it was fine.
It surprised me that a lot of good surfers didn't really like them. There were a lot of really badly designed twin fins. To go rail to rail, you needed a really deep vee in the bottom, and a vee that was strategically placed, that started shallow and got progressively deeper between the fins, with a little concave in the bottom of the wing, which gave it like a vee/ double concave thing in that tail area. There was a design secret in making them work. If someone said they didn't like twin fins, if you had a look at them, invariably the bottom wasn't right."

Robin and I have been in communication and he writes-
"There's a lot of history going on with that board; where it was built, who shaped it, the Star Systems fin boxes, etc.  
MR was right, back in the day there were so many twin fins that were designed incorrectly and surfed terribly. In fact, we used to affectionately refer to them as "twin spins" because most surfers just hit their bottom turn and proceeded to face plant on the wave because the fins slid out. Not a pretty picture. MR's twins were spot on, the tails were narrower that the noses, the wide points were ahead of center, the fins were back, there was lots of "v", they had a wing swallow tail shape and most importantly, the "v" went into a hooked wing which was critical for controlling drift. Eventually Will Jobson developed the twinzer design with the small forward canard fin, and that allowed for a more modern look to the planlines with the wide point migrating back toward center, more of a thruster look. I have many original MR templates from G&S and the ones with a more balanced nose and tail width do not work as well as his original, more Brewer influenced designs.

I can remember riding one of MR's personal twins back in the day at G&S, probably '78 or '79; the board had "v" running the full length of the 6'0" board, and on my first wave, which was a right, I faded a little to the left into the peak before I started my bottom turn, and the board took off left before I realized what was happening. Of course I fell off but after another wave, I figured the "v" contour out and had a blast on the board. The board was fast and lose especially since I was coming off of single fins...what an eye opener that board was!"

This board is a very good example of what Mark and Robin are talking about above. Deep vee between the fins and some concave in the bottom of the wings. I belive I could really feel these concave wings give a little extra bite and a fair bit more drive.

Here you can see the concave wings.

Unique cut away in the swallow tail.

Nice yellow pigment coat pin lines

Confederate flag showing the history of the board. A life time spent on the South East coast.

Here again you can see the concave in the wings and the original star fin system  twin fins that had quite a different template to the fins that MR was using at the time. Robin tell me these are a completely hand made polycarbonate set and are quite rare.
Made in the USA.

Shaped by Robin Prodanovich 879

I threw it in the truck and took it for a surf.

Very fast with lots of drive that i suggest is due in part to the unique scooped wings on the flyers.

Star fin system twins.

Look out!

The vee through the tail, the wings and the narrow tail made it perform very well on  the backhand, just as MR described.

headed for the top

'broken daddy'

there was a lot of work to rebuild both sides of  the tail.

how better to immortalize a legend than on the backside of of a public toilet! Merewether, Newcastle.  Pic from Keith.

1978, 79, 81, 82