The Coast News Group
A selection of Skip Frye Surfboards. File photo/Chris Ahrens
Columns Waterspot

Ordering a new board

A renaissance leading to the rediscovery of long abandoned surf designs began in the early 1990s.

This led to old, dinged-up boards becoming as cool again as the surfers who made them famous in the first place.

In my case, being cool was not the main motivator — poverty was.

My last new board was an asymmetrical built by Carl Ekstrom 13 years ago. Five years before that, the great Skip Frye gifted me with a new Fish, on my 55th birthday.

These two boards, now battered and yellowed as they are, are among my most treasured possessions. I ride them nearly exclusively even though rails and fins have been repaired like a set of Revolutionary War wooden dentures.

But everything needs replacing after a while and so it was with my surfboards.

I hate to bother Ekstrom since he only makes a few surfboards a year.

Instead, I decided to bother Frye, who continues to carve out one foam masterpiece a day. I called. No answer. Called several more times with the same result.

Early last week, I decided to try one last call. Frye picked up, we caught up on life, I closed my eyes and asked about getting a new board. After a moment of nervous silence, he said yes. Exhale.

Realizing that this will probably be the last new board I will ever order, I have become obsessed with its design. What size and style surfboard should I get?

Over 8’6” is bigger than I like, and under 6’10” is too small. Eight-0 seems about right. But I still like to turn, so I’ll keep it on the thin side.

Since the Fish design is a bit stiff going backside, and Eggs can be a little sluggish, the speed egg seems like a good compromise.

I like single fins and twin fins and have never tried Frye’s current choice of fin setup, four fins. Okay, I’ll have to ask the master about that one.

What about color? From my box of 48 crayons scattered on my dining room table, I have it narrowed down to three: orange, lime green and sky blue.

I know that I won’t be able to sleep for a while, staring at the ceiling imagining my new 8-foot, speed egg with one, two, three or four fins slicing through a hot glassy North County summer morning.

As I begin to fade off with visions of my new board dancing in my head, I start contemplating fin size and color and whether to get a leash plug or not.

With most board manufacturers, this is a given, but Skip Frye is a purist, and does not use leashes.  One big difference between Frye and me is that he never falls, and I spend a lot more time off my board than on it.

Okay, I’ll request a leash plug and explain that it’s only for rocky areas.

Well, that settles it; I can sleep now. Sweet dreams begin rolling like a north/west swell when I am jerked awake by the thought of my first ding. What will I do when that happens?

Oh, yeah, get a leash plug and make sure the fins are well constructed. Man, it’s not easy getting a new board.

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