The best surfing at Lowers has historically been the most progressive, but sometimes when pushing the performance level the experimentation with equipment falls by the wayside. But lately that's changing as more surfers are opening up their minds to the potential of designs like the Mini Simmons and wider, thicker plugs.
You would never have guessed this watching the warm-up session Monday at Lowers in San Clemente, Calif., where most every pro was on the standard shortboard.
But then Australia's Stu Kennedy showed up with something quite different under his arm. No nose, funky tail, the Daniel Thomson design is anything but conventional, but Kennedy figured it might give him some kind of advantage in the water.
After he got out of the water I caught up with him for a couple of minutes to see what's up with the odd sled.
You are riding some different-looking boards, who makes them? What are they called?
The boards are from Tomo Surfboards, modern planing hulls (MPH) shaped by my good mate Daniel Thomson.
How do they work and what are the advantages?
Dan gave me a go of his personal boards last week at home in Australia [Thomson originally hails from Lennox Head, Australia, but has recently taken up residence in Oceanside, Calif.]. They felt really unique and progressive, I found that they allow me to do pretty much anything I want to do on a wave. Really fast and free.
Are there any disadvantages?
Performance wise no. My only concern is how the judges will respond to me riding such an unorthodox design, personally I feel that these boards are allowing me to perform on a higher level than my traditional equipment.
Are you going to ride these designs at Lowers?
Yes, I will be riding these boards in the Lowers event. It is one of the most high performance waves in the world and I feel that I have one of the most high performance boards, so it should be exciting. Can't wait!