An old saying: “the cobblers kids go without shoes” occurs to me often, since it’s just recently that I took the time to build a board just for myself. All the boards I’ve built have been for customers or to add to our demo fleet – although because we have a pile of demo boards for people to try, there are plenty for me to surf when I can get out.
But the first board I chose to build for myself was the 4’5″ paipo body board we call “The Leaf”. It’s such a cool shape, with contours that change so dramatically in such a short distance that it’s a challenge to build well, yet it comes together pretty fast compared to our other boards. A deep single concave that runs off the tail transitions to a full, hull-like belly at the nose. The deck’s just as crazy; it’s got a slightly dished deck forward that’s the mark of a traditional paipo running back to a full, dome-like shape at the tail that makes it comfortable to ride and still float-ey for it’s narrow tail width. Getting all that compound curvature bent into the cedar planks is a real trick but pretty rewarding to behold once it’s all done.
I made mine from wood I pirated from a 100-year-old piano that one of our guys had started dismantling in the storeroom. When parts of it started to go to the dump, I had to grab some and I was even able to inlay some ivory and ebony from the keyboard into the deck and bottom.
The original Leaf that we made was finned with a high-aspect, super-flexy 9″ fin, which works great for standing (I can’t do it!) and for getting down the line in bigger sets, but for messing about in smaller surf on your knees or belly, we’ve been putting in rail-fin boxes, and with a couple of single FCS-tabbed micro-twinzer fins get loose and fun body-board maneuvers.
This is the board that we always put in the front of the booth when we go to shows, because when you see it, you just have to stop and handle it. It goes as good as it looks and is one of the boards we’re most proud of.