Jon Wegener Mini Simmons - in Wood!
Over the years, as we've looked back to and admired the work of some of the greatest surfboard design minds of the past, I've been particularly impressed with the accomplishments and life of Bob Simmons. Though he only lived into his thirties, he pretty much locked down the often-applied title of "father of the modern surfboard"; largely because he researched and applied design principles that before then were the province only of technical minded naval architects and physicists.
The short version (google this guy... you won't be sorry) is that Bob Simmons - who had a bad injury to his arm that in early life reduced his paddle strength considerably - got into surfing in a roundabout way, and was pretty quickly inspired to make surfboards more efficient. This is in the days of solid-redwood surfboards of the basic Pacific Home Systems tombstone design: heavy, a full-time job to paddle, and clumsy to turn. So, seemingly in preparation just for building better surfboards, Simmons (a high school drop-out) methodically built his own brain by getting training in woodworking, advanced mathematics, aero-dynamics and hydrodynamics and learned to be a machinist. Spin ahead fifteen years, WWII is just wrapping up, and Simmons was the first one who thought to mine newly developed war-time technology for surfboard design ideas.
But this is only part of the story because Simmons was one of those classic characters in the vein of Gard Chapin and Miki Dora. Intense, abrupt, glowering and driving around with heavy technical texts, hydrographic charts and new surfboard designs in his surf-modded junkers, or sleeping on the floor in the back of his darkened workshop, he was recognized by everyone, but friends with no one. He lived and breathed his passion while perfectly content living a deeply austere life, singlemindedly pursuing surf and better surf-craft. He was a bit like a wondering surf monk on a mission.
We're delighted to announce another new board in the Grain quiver: an impressive interpretation of the Mini-Simmons by Jon Wegener. He calls it "The Mr. Simmons". But you can't talk about the mini-Simmons style of board with talking about the man Wegener's model is based on, Bob Simmons.
Grain & Wegener Surfboards Team Up:
A Mini-Simmons in Wood
Jon Wegener's Mr. Simmons is currently available in 5'5" and 6'3" with quad FCS or glass-on twins. Get it as a HomeGrown Kit, Paper Plans or build one in any Grain building board-workshop. The original foam version is still available from Wegener Surfboards.
It's All Relative -
Wegener and Mr. Simmons
Everything's relative... or derivative. Because one of the absolute truths of surfboard design is that every board owes something to the boards (and shapers) that have come before it. And the shocker here is that the mini-simmons style board is not really a retro and was never built by Bob Simmons himself. It's a modern board that simply includes all of the innovations that Bob Simmons felt were first-principles. The giveaways are the shallow twins, wide nose, wide tail, planing surfaces and ratio of length to width which result in the same tombstone outline that Simmons' much longer boards of the type often had. And regardless of where you come down on the question of who invented this incredibly performing, miniaturized type, one thing's for certain.: Jon Wegener's take on it is killer; a perfect re-evolutionary machine.
Over a period of years, Simmons came up with some lasting (some, not-so-much) innovations like
- Nose extensions to longboards to reduce pearling and increase lift
- Down-rails (precursors to foiled performance rails)
- Cambered decks
- Planing surfaces that changed everything
- Bottom concaves
- Bottom-belly under the nose
- Increased nose rocker
- Lightness in solid boards
- Compsand foam/veneer