Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 5, Shaped and frothing!

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Yeah… I’m frothing to surf this baby!

Kirk recommended 2×6 glassing on the deck, 1×6 on the bottom and carbon rails.  I don’t mind pressure dings on the deck, actually kind of like a bit, lets you know where you are, so no carbon or weave on the deck.

The show last night in St. Aug was great.  Stoked to meet the local paddle surf crew.  Some passionate folks.  Tonight we’re in Jacksonville at Black Creek Outfitters, then this weekend at Mex 1 Cantina on Sullivan’s Island in Charleston after the Chucktown Showdown.  Hope to see you.

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 4, The Decision

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 4, The Decision

Alright folks!  I’ve finalized the design.  First, I’d like to say a huge thanks for all the help with the decision.  You all have sent me photos, videos, feedback on what you’ve done and what you wish you would have done with your boards- it’s been an incredibly fun process.  I’d love to keep it going, but to have the board ready for Sept. 20th, Kirk said we’ve got to decide now.

So… Here it is!




She’s a 6.10 x 26.5 at 85L.

I chose the Popdart because I surf good waves most of the time.  Everyone who chimed in said the TV Dinner was great in bad conditions, and weaker surf, and I might pick one of them up in the future, but for now, I’d like a board that I can ride the majority of my sessions.

The common thought was that either the TV Dinner or the Popdart would be stable for the size and at 85L and 26.5 wide I am well within my range.  I am comfortable paddling the 25.5 starboard at 83L and even the 24 wide starboard at 78L, that one just requires more work.  I like boards that are a bit of a challenge to paddle, and I don’t like being on top of the water.

Sidebar – During the process of getting this board designed, I went back and used a few older boards.  If you guys follow, you know I do this from time to time to see if I notice anything about the shape.  In riding the 90L JP and the 95L JP in choppy conditions, I realized how much that makes me bounce around, and I actually fell a good bit more than on my 83-85L boards (but you do make up for it in glide).  This will get a full journal soon.

So, I want to be just a touch under the water while paddling.  85L is my perfect volume and my guess is that big nose will pop right out of the water.

I pulled the length back from 7.0 to 6.10 mainly because I want to test increasing thickness for volume and reducing swing weight.  My hypothesis is that once you get used to paddling a thicker board it won’t be much of a difference in stability.  And with the step-deck and thin rails she should still drive off the rail.  If both of those thoughts hold true, then the reduced swing weight should make her come off the top and come around much faster.  And she should be much easier to surf in offshore winds.  I really notice, and hate, how bigger boards get pinned to the lip when we have an offshore wind.  After a few months of slack winds, and having a stiff offshore yesterday, I fell 3 times because I couldn’t get the board around on routine turns or floaters.  It forces you to put your surfing more on the face, which isn’t as much fun.

That’s the decision.  I can’t wait to surf this beauty!

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 2, Initial Designs

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 2, Initial Designs

This morning I got back from an open water swim with my son and this email was waiting.

Popdart dims based on our discussion looking like 7′ x 27.5 x 3.875 x 86L.  We can bump up volume by either tweaking width or thickness (or length).  My recommendation would be to keep it thin and go a tad wider.  This thing will be a rocket ship.
TVD dims are similar — 7′ x 27.5 x 3.875 and 86L.  Again, a width/thickness/length tweak will increase volume if you’d like to hit 88L mark.
This is the PD CAD model.


I love the look!  I know that Kieth commented yesterday that look isn’t everything and I agree, but there is an aesthetic element to a good surfboard design.  There are some boards that you can look at and know they’ll be dogs.


Some initial thoughts on this Popdart.  Kirk says it would be better to say wide and thin, but my reaction is that I could still paddle it just fine at 26.5 and that might make it surf better in the pocket.  Something I’m really looking forward to testing is how a 4 inch plus surfboard works when you thin out the rails and keep the volume in the middle, that’s what Pat Rawson has been shaping Mo.  I wanted to try his boards when he was here, but I could’t paddle low 70’s volume.


I’m going to ask Kirk for a center rail section of this shape to see the rail profile.  (Kirk sent it)
7' PD Erik center section


Keith also asked about hull designs.  Kirk, can you comment here and shed some light on different bottom contours and when/why you use them?  This board has some significant channels.  What’s that going to feel like?


I’d love to see what a 6.10 at 26.5 would look like.  How thick would it need to be to hit 85L?

From Kirk –

Erik, reducing length to 6’10 would mean an increase in thickness to 4.125″ to net 85L. Only a .25″ change. And you’re right – narrow always surfs better. The tradeoff can be adding thickness which affects how high up the board sits in the water thus affecting overall stability. However we are splitting hairs here. ? I also sent you a section through mid to show how the volume is distributed and the step rail design. The Popdart incorporates a single concave running entry to just behind middle. Then transitioning into a double with Vee and the channel bottom. The concave bottom design adds more rocker at the rail than through centerline. More rail rocker translates to tighter turns. The theory behind the channels to add more grip to the rather significant waterway between the fins. From personal experience with these wide tails, the channels make the boards really drive through turns while adding another level of control to all the speed these things generate.

I typically run the displacement hull entry in the classic SIMSUP shapes as these boards are designed to get on plane easy and early and go fast. The hull “belly” up front parts the water generating lift and allowing the boards to fly. I’ve built Popdarts with hulled entries too but personally prefer the single concave.

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 1, Podcast

Designing a Board with Kirk McGinty – Part 1, Podcast

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.