Gordon’s eyes twinkled.
“Here’s my number, kid.” He tapped the eraser on his number 2 pencil against the wall where his digits were scrawled.
“If you start shaping a board by yourself and get stuck, call me.”
I promised Gordon I wouldn’t call late at night, and assured him that I probably would get stuck. Hand shaping a surfboard was harder than I thought. We’d cut, shaved and sanded off countless layers of foam for hours, until somehow, a smooth, slick vessel emerged – a retro fish – designed to glide down the line like a knife through butter.
“Boss take a look at this.” said the guy at the front desk. “Someone tagged one of your boards on Instagram.”
Gordon looked at the computer screen and laughed. “You know what. That’s fucking stupid. The wave ain’t gonna be empty if you’re posting about it all over the internet.”
Months went by and the fish didn’t get near the water. Heavy El Niño swells pounded Ocean Beach’s shoreline, dragging huge piles of sand down the beach.
My fish (now equipped with a quad fin set up and a fresh wax job) sat propped up on a cardboard box in my room, waiting patiently for a soft takeoff and a dreamy right.
When 80 degree weather hit the Bay, wispy offshore winds came with it, and on Saturday the fish jumped to life on a smooth right-hander at Stinson. It felt solid and moved with my feet. Suddenly all the talk of concave bottoms, swallow tails, and soft rails clicked.
“Duncan, you want the board to flow from front to back. Keep it symmetrical on both sides. And remember you can always remove foam, but you can’t add any.”
I paddled back into the lineup with a grin.
“Let me see that for a second” said a buddy in the water. He took off on a left, leaned backwards, arching his back towards the face of the wave. Immediately I knew he felt it too – this was a damn good board.