VISSLA SYDNEY SURF PRO & THE SARCIFISHAL...
Welcome to the first instalment of our Water Pistols Zine. Been a little slow out of the gates with this one as we’ve been busy organising and setting up our new production facility. Here goes and our first story is all over the place encompassing the very beginning, the very latest and the design, development, naming and initiation of a new model. Handshaped in front of a live audience during the shaping display at the Vissla Sydney Surf Pro it was fun to work with my son Ryan bringing the little fish to life in such a different environment.
Vissla, for the second year running, as part of their QS 6000 event at Sydneys Manly beach hosted 24 highly respected surfboard shapers in a purpose built shaping bay to demonstrate, explain and answer questions about their craft in an open mic situation. They do this as a nod of recognition to the guys behind the scenes, the oft forgotten craftsmen who create the one and only essential tool required for surfing. In a field including such luminaries as Simon Anderson, Darren Handley, Hayden Cox, Tomo and Gunther Rohn it was an honour to once again be invited to participate.
The big question was what to do for this years event? At the inaugural Shaper Shack it was an easy answer and I handshaped a “The Toe”, our most popular and best- selling performance model but for this years event we wanted to mix things up a little and show some versatility. What about a twin keel fish?
We go back a little here, way back, so far back I’m 12 years old and fucken tiny, like 30 kilos tiny and I’m gonna build me a surfboard. I loved making stuff, be it little boats, skateboards, anything for that matter and now I’d been bitten by the surfing bug, a surfing board just had to be built.
My first “blank” was in fact an old board I bought from a mate at school for $5 and stripped the glass off. I was limited in what my first ever shape was to be by the fact that my “blank” incorporated some major dings. I had plenty of width to work with but length was a definite problem. There was however an option back in this predominately 6’6” plus singlefin era and that was, yes, why not, a twin keel fish. A design born in the hollow reef breaks of San Diegos Sunset Cliffs area it’s Californian creator Steve Lis originally intended the Twin Keel Fish as a hybrid kneeboard/standup board and the stubby little craft enjoyed a huge following in the region. My inspiration however came more from a segment in the movie “Goin’ Surfing” in which the legendary David Nuuhiwa rips the shit out of Rocky lefts on a tiny, Lis inspired, wide-arsed keel fish. I had my design brief and set to with cardboard, a pencil, an eraser and some scissors creating template 001 from scratch. The shaping went ok, I think but glassing was a different story as I took a guess how to do it. There was shit everywhere but the job got done and before long I was surfing that stubby little piece of crap. Make no mistake, I hated my fishy creation. Not sure if it was too short at 4’10’, remember I was miniscule as well, a crap design or if it was the result of some enthusiastic though unskilled shaping. Whoever took that little green fish out came in with the same opinion, “this thing’s shit” and my first ever shape was left to languish in a mates garage down by Bronte beach. That is until the infamous swell of ’74. A group of us Bronte groms sat atop the cliffs behind Bronte Cemetery marvelling at the awesome display of ocean born power when the idea to appease the surf gods was hatched. “Yeah, let’s cast that crappy little fish to the ocean” and with that my first ever shape and as far as I was concerned, the twin keel fish design itself went to a watery grave.
Having spent the next 40 plus years dedicated to pushing the envelope of advanced performance shortboard design you can imagine the sheer horror when a few years ago, particularly in our region the twin keel fish reared its ugly and I do mean ugly, head again. Seriously, what the fuck, has mine and the time of countless other shapers worldwide been wasted? A 50 year old average at best design had risen from the dead and was now the go to board for any Hipster worth his Chai tea surfing our points. Nah, Ryan and I were both adamant, there would be no keel fish in our range. Our ethos at Water Pistols was performance based and this was one design that didn’t make the cut……. but they kept asking…..and asking, till we cracked. We were gonna have to produce a fish but in line with our vision we sought to improve.
We had our direction for the Vissla Shaper Shack demonstration as well as a cool story and the task of breathing life into a half century old Phoenix.
Despite the twin keel fish being less popular in Sydneys short, sharp conditions there was still plenty of interest in the design and I fielded some good questions from the sizable finals day crowd mostly concerning the shortfalls verse benefits of the fish concept and the improvements I had in mind. Ryan and I had discussed how to address the issue of the keel fishes’ abundance of speed but lack of tight turning capabilities and decided the tail needed to be pulled in as the traditional 12” wide pod on the design tended to make the planshape too straight through the aft section. The tail rocker required attention as this was also too straight, again promoting lateral as opposed to vertical lines. I pulled the tail width in by means of a flyer at the release point in rear of the front fins, included a central concave while adding extra tail lift and vee as opposed to the modern overabundance of straight through concave and the rest is pure early 70’s bar the extra dimension of quad capabilities. Old mate Terry Day added icing to the cake after hearing the fate of that very first fish during my post shaping display interview when he referred to the grommie cliff throw as ”Sacrifishal” and unwittingly gave name to our new model………. There we have it, a full range of “Sacrifishals” will be online and in the Water Pistols Surfboards Studio soon and we hope you enjoyed the first instalment of our zine. Happy Surfing.