Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 1, Podcast

Erik Antonson
Erik Antonson
August 20, 2016

Today starts the Designing a Board series with Kirk McGinty from L41 Surfcraft.  Part 1, today’s installment, is our opening conversation about design and the current L41 models.  Over the next week Kirk will be sending me some ideas hitting my target dimensions, which I’ll be sharing with you all, and then we’ll decide and build one of the boards.  It will be my board for our upcoming California trip, I’ll journal on the ride and then Kirk will come back on the show and we’ll discuss the process and performance.

Kirk isn’t your normal shaper.  He’s an industrial designer at Google.  He spends his days designing and building state of the art technology and in his free time he designs and builds surfboards.  He’s just the guy I’d like helping solve for the future of paddle surfing.

We discuss a few different models of his boards on the show.  Here are a few so you have an idea of what we’re talking about:

The Original SIMSUP


The Popdart


The TV Dinner


In our first discussion we’ve agreed that we don’t want to shape a board similar to what I normally ride.  This is an experiment in performance for me, and Kirk thinks it’s going to blow my mind to surf a sub 7 foot board.

I’m leaning towards the Popdart or the TV Dinner, as I still do want some aspects of performance.  I’ve ridden enough Simmons surfboards to have a general understanding of their strengths and weaknesses, what I don’t know is how the paddle will change that.

For dimensions, I’m going to opt for a bit more foam than normal.  There are a few reasons.

1.  I’m going to be using the board for the first month in California.  I haven’t put on a wetsuit in 10 years, but if I remember correctly they’ll add a few pounds.

2.  We have a lot of small, clean, mellow days where I live, and I’d like a cruisy board for those conditions.

I want to go as short as possible.  If we can come in at 6.8 or around there I’d be stoked.  Width will likely be 27-28.  I’ve been on the trend of narrower is better, but I had some magic sessions on my Starboard Airborn, my first small SUP, and that was 28.5.

Check back in a few days to see the first designs that Kirk’s come up with.

PodcastProgression Journal


  • paul

    I’ve owned an S1, S3, and TV Dinner. I love the TV Dinner (I love Kirk’s boards). I’m 6’2″, ~210 lbs and ride a 7’6″. Really interested in why you’ll pick one or the other. I thought about a Popdart for a next board but I’m not sure how it’s different than the TVD or S3.

    • Erik -- PaddleWoo

      Right now I’m really digging the look of the Popdart. I think it has a nice balance between the models. I can’t wait to see the designs that Kirk comes up with and how they look hitting my volume and dimensions.

      • keith

        I have fallen in the trap of liking the “look” of a board and going that direction and being unsatisfied with a board. If you like it because the look shows a design you understand and will surf how you like that fine, but most of us go for “pretty/normal” which is why people are so resistant to tomo’s design but they surf so well.

  • Enzo

    I ride a 7’0x27x4.125 90L Popdart and I am 5’11 and 176lb. I come from a starboard 7’7@95L and a F-One 7’7@87L.

    Erik, dont be afraid to go 80-85L on the Popdart shape. It is really stable, well balanced, and catches the waves very easily. I should have gotten 7’0x25 82L. Just keep in mind that the Popdart rides as a quad, dont compare it to your 7’4 set as a thruster. Also, the wide tail makes it difficult to control speed in overhead waves, it just doesnt wanna turn when you go screaming down the line.

    As you said, it is expensive to try boards, my next one is an L41 Bruce Wayne 7’2x25x4.125 82L, this shape is more “traditional” so I expect better control on bigger waves, but I would also like to have a 7’0x25x4 80L Popdart.

  • keith

    In the next podcast it would be good to hear about hull shapes. It would be great to hear explanations engineering/hydrodynamics of how rockers, concaves/ v’s/ channels etc effect how you can change the tuning performance of such a large planning area.

    My friend jeff has a asymmetric L41 paipo, kirk designs work on all size water craft.

  • Alex Norman

    Erik– I have been reading your blog and listening to some of the podcasts, and it helped influence me to go down in size for my next board. After much deliberation, I just mailed Kirk a down payment for a new Popdart. Mine will be 7’10x29x4.375 @ 115 liters. This is stepping down from a Jimmy Lewis Stun Gun (traditional performance shape) 9’2″x30.25×4 at 124 liters. I’m about 190 (200 in a wet fullsuit) so this is just about the 1.3 L/W ratio. I wanted to balance the desire for progression with keeping up my wave count as a weekend (and sometimes midweek) warrior in crowded lineups in Malibu, CA.

    Looking forward to hearing about your experience with your new L41, and I’ll share mine.


    • Erik -- PaddleWoo

      Alex! Thanks for the feedback. Stoked you enjoy the project. Please post your thoughts on the board once you’ve surfed it. I’m going to be around your area for PPG and SUWT events. Say hi if you see me. E

  • Alex Norman

    Hi Erik, I definitely will. One cool thing about SUP surfing I find is that it’s a small community and most people are pretty cool. Kind of like the way surfing was back in the 50’s.

    BTW, I agree with you about the lack of good video on Kirk’s boards. You’ve probably seen this, but on Kirk’s FB there’s a 3 shot sequence of a guy doing a backside buried-rail bottom turn to top-turn hook on a double overhead wave, and I’m pretty sure he’s on a Popdart. Those pics are one reason I chose the Popdart over the TVD.

  • Rob

    Hi Eric, have just recently followed your site and been greedily reading and listening to your articles and pcasts. I’m a big fan of L41, coming across them 2 years ago in my quest to begin SUP’n. I’m 5’10 180lb had never sup’d before but have intermediate surf and advanced windsurf experience (I’m used to the feel of a 75- 80l board underfoot). I snagged an L41 ST 7’8″ 118l and never looked back. They are beautiful designed boards, super stable and in my very bias and limited experience (this being the only board I’ve ever ridden) they rock! I paddled around for one flat water session to get a feeling for it- then into the waves catching rides ever since. I’m still progressing, usually riding 2-6′ faces, linking turns and usually catching what i want. Really interested to hear your experiences, you are going to love whatever you and Kirk cook up!

  • Ty

    Kirk shaped me the Magic board.
    7’9 for plenty paddle power
    Step rails
    26” wide
    3.5” thick
    Round nose
    Round tail
    78 L
    I am 163 LBs
    Having ridden the S5 S4 and about 30 other boards over the last 9 years I can say this is the one.
    Forget the swallow or squash
    Round tail makes for better rail to rail action.
    Thank you Kirk
    Calling the new board
    THE ONE…..

  • Jim Jennings

    I love my new board Kirk; it wiggles.

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