Tuesday, January 2, 2018

Build sign-off and Hau'oli Makahiki Hou!

I never got around to updating the last build, so here goes…this will also serve as a send-off for 2017 and a welcoming in of 2018 for this very inconsistent blogger.

The balsa skin went on better than I expected considering it wasn’t vacuum-bagged. Instead, I glued up each small sheet of balsa veneer, and then taped and weighted each down onto the shaped blank. For the rails I wrapped balsa veneer to a thickness of just over two centimeters. It all worked out well, and the hybrid build approach produced a light and attractive board. I glassed it with two layers of 4 oz. glass on the deck, and one on the bottom, with Japanese-sourced epoxy.

The board turned out to be my lightest yet (by far), and the EPS and epoxy gives it a ton of float. The board has gone well in small waves, which is precisely what it was designed for…basically I was looking for longboard float in something small I could easily fit in my car. It is way too fat and corky for decent waves, but I have other boards that fulfill that purpose.

Due the strength and lightness of the experimental EPS block blank I put together on this build, I am looking to build a straight EPS and epoxy performance board (minus the balsa veneer) in 2018. I’ve in fact started gathering EPS blocks from the local Daiso stores, so I’m hoping to slowly assemble the blank over the spring. I will try to update that build as it progresses.

In the meantime, Happy New Year, or Hau'oli Makahiki Hou as they say in Hawai’i, which is where I’m happily heading tomorrow!
Balsa veneer all done and sorted

This guy climbed up my foot while I was shaping the rails, 
scared the hell out of me! 

Glassed and hot coated


October fun

Shooting in monochrome

Sweet November peaks

Christmas Eve on the new board

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Typhoon 5 and "skinning" the new board

We were hit with a nice stretch of swell thanks to Typhoon #5, a very bizarre moving typhoon that moved up towards northern Japan, pushed up the swell here in Hokkaido, then turned around and headed back south. It is now spinning away down south, building strength, and threatening Okinawa and Kyushu. In its sojourn up north, Typhoon 5 produced some really fine waves in southern Hokkaido, particularly here at my local spot in Noboribetsu. Here are a few pics from the glorious week…so nice to get some juicy waves again!

 Between sessions I found the time to finish shaping my blank and start “skinning” the board. The blank will be covered with 3mm balsa veneer, applied one 80x600mm sheet at a time. As this was the only size of balsa I could source at that thickness, it is what I am forced to work with for this project. Each piece of balsa is laid up with Titebond 2 glue and clamped and/or weighted down with bricks. This is a picture of the first sheet after application…it went on a bit crooked (I think it slid a bit when being glued up). But it seems to have adhered well, so all in all I am happy with it. I hope to get the bottom done this week, and will update again at that point.

Monday, July 17, 2017

Update and new build

Well, here goes, back in the saddle again. I haven’t posted on the blog since last year. I enjoyed a number of great swells last summer and early fall, riding waves of all shapes and sizes from here in Noboribetsu all the way around to Hakodate. Caught a few classic days in Volcano Bay as well. The great season kept me from blogging, then, to my great disappointment, the north winds started up early and the winter surf was less than inspiring. Sure, there were a few good days here and there, but not enough to stoke me to blog.

However, as I have a new board project underway, and I like to document my builds for future reference, I am stepping back up to the plate.

The idea for this build was inspired by a trip to Daiso (a Japanese “dollar store” chain) where I happened across a colorful variety of high density EPS blocks for sale. Wondering if I could glue them together and make an EPS blank, I bought a couple and glued them together. After letting it dry for a week, I stressed the glue joint to see if it would break, but it was rock solid…I knew I was in business.

So for the following month or so I scoured the local Daiso stores buying up all their 40x5x5cm and 20x10x5cm EPS blocks. I glued them into “boards”, cut foil profiles into them using a template, and then glued them up into a blank (using three of the foil templates as stringers). The board outline was cut, rough rail bands trimmed down, and a 12mm balsa rail attached. The pics below show the progress so far, it’s coming together pretty well. The rails need to be brought down and shaped a bit more, then I’ll be putting a 3mm balsa veneer on the deck and bottom. The ultimate plan is for a 6’6” “jumbo” single fin (6’6”x23.5x3.5)…fingers crossed…

In any regard, this is where I’m at, and how I got here….updates to follow….

High density EPS blocks

Glued-up EPS "board" section

Placing EPS boards on foil template
Cutting to size with an Exacto blade (wish I had a hot wire system)

Cut foiled-shaped section

Glued-up blank

Outline cut, rail bands drawn

Balsa rails on preparing for balsa veneer 

The waves have been small this July, but fun enough at Kako

Glassy Kako

Bigger day at Kako 

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Summer update

It’s been a long time since I updated the old blog. Spring was pretty slow wave-wise, so I kind of fell out of the routine of my monthly or so updates. Summer has been off the charts though, and I’ve been too tired to do much else but surf the past 2 months. We’ve been hit by a series of typhoons this summer which has meant almost constant swell. I’ve had great days everywhere this year, with some particularly sweet sessions at Kako and Usu. Here’s a few pics to brings things up-to-date. I will try be a bit more diligent as we head into the fall.

Perfect Kako

Clean Kusoshita

Evening Kako session

Closing out Kako

Usu, the elusive point comes alive

Monday, November 30, 2015

Overdue update

Wow, I haven't written on here since August, time for an update. Lots of travelling, surfing and work has had me busy over the last few months. We've had some nice waves over that time, a bit more inconsistent than usual for this season, but some excellent days nonetheless. A couple of big late October storms blew the sand down the beach at Kako, shifting the peak quite a bit. We had a couple big days in November, and I blew my back out on one of them...happily back in saddle after a couple of weeks off though, and have enjoyed a number of cold sunny small days at Gyokyo in late November. I'm sitting at 212 sessions for the season, it would be nice to hit 220, but we'll see... It's December 1st today and the snow is falling, time to get out the hood and shift to winter surfing. Here's some autumn pics that capture the season here in Iburi...

The Kako right has emerged with the shifting sand

Nice Gyokyo

Tight lines at Kako
Autumn sake

Washibetsu gyokyo shrine, the place to pray for waves

In Japan even the graffiti is nice...gotta love this place 


Sunday, August 30, 2015

Great August waves and my itago

Very nice surf last week thanks to Typhoons 15 and 16. Friday at Kako was perfect, a little over head high and really clean… Kako closed out Saturday so I headed over the Gyokyo for another great session. On Sunday and Monday it was breaking in Funka Bay…all in all, it feels like the typhoon season arrived a month early, which is great as August is usually pretty small. After the nice stretch of waves, the winds shifted onshore, and it’s been pretty junky since...

This year I pulled back on my board building activities mainly due to a lack of space, and quite frankly, a lack of need. I ride about 6 boards somewhat regularly, of which three are my own builds. On top of that, I have a few more boards that are gathering dust, so I really can’t justify making any more at the moment.

But, as I really dig the process of taking on new projects, I’ve decided to try to replicate some traditional surfcraft and see how they turn out. Even if they don’t turn out to be rideable boards, I thought they would be a tangible way to explore surfing history.

The first thing I wanted to make was an “itago (板子), a traditional Japanese surfcraft similar to a paipo board. These types of boards were used for wave riding in Japan from about 150 years ago up until the 1960s. 
Originally, itago were “found” surfcraft; with kids using the removable floor boards from fishing boats to ride waves. Later itago were purpose-built, and adorned with advertisements for products or departments stores, and available for rent at popular public beaches throughout Japan. An excellent history of the itago, including numerous board examples and historical pictures, is available at Nobbywood Surfboards:

The itago I made is a replica of one of the boards in Nobby’s archives/collection, an example of a rental board used in Kanagawa in the late 1960s.
About 20 years ago after a surf session in Toyoura an old fisherman came up to me for a chat, and he told me that he used to surf in Rebunge as a kid on "boards". I hadn't given that conversation much thought until I started reading more about the history of the itago. It now makes me wonder how far back surfing culture goes in Hokkaido.     

Old school Japanese itago surfing

Japanese girls with an itago

The replica

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Hot in the summer

It's been hot and humid in Iburi this summer, today it reached 30 in Muroran for the first time this year, and Sapporo even hit 37. That's hot stuff for us Dosanko. Thankfully we have the ocean, and although the waves have dropped in size, it feels so nice to cool off before and after work. Today I even trunked it (with a vest), and it was a little slice of heaven. It's so Honshu summerish here that I even had a kuwagata (beetle) in the yard. It looks like the waves will pick up Friday with the Typhoon 13 swell, can't wait to surf some decent waves in just trunks and a rashie. Hopefully I'll have some decent pics to post next week.    

After work this evening

Ms Kuwagata