Peahi (Jaws) Big-Wave Board Design With Jeff Timpone, Matt Kinoshita, Ron Meeks and Aaron Gold
Pe’ahi (Jaws) Big-Wave Board Design With Jeff Timpone, Matt Kinoshita, Ron Meeks and Aaron Gold
In honor of todays Pe’ahi Challenge we compiled some excerpts on Jaws big-wave board design from interviews with the shapers/surfers that shape them. The list includes Jeff Timpone, Matt Kinoshita (Kazuma Surfboards), Ron Meeks and Aaron Gold. You can read their full interviews on our interview page.
There seems to be way more paddle in days now at Jaws than tow-in. Are you making a lot of big wave guns for Jaws?
Yes, paddling in at Jaws has replaced much of the tow-in crowd. We’re definitely on the cutting edge of big wave paddle-in board here on Maui. Maui has taken center stage of the big wave paddle scene, and for good reasons. Each winter I build handfuls of paddle-in Jaws boards. By hand shaping each board, I’m able to make slight adjustments for the individual riders. I’m not building the most boards, but I put in a ton of energy and focus in each big wave paddle-in board to build the best. Both female (Andrea Moller) and male (Yuri Soledade) winners at the last Billabong XXL awards, took top honors with some of my boards in their quivers. Stuff like that let me know I’m consistent and doing something right.
What kind of of board are you making for guys surfing Jaws?
For me, every Jaws board is special and everyone’s skill level is a little different. I haven’t made any 11 footers for a couple of winters now. The Jaws boards are getting shorter with more refined dimensions. Some of the kids out there are paddling in with boards down in the 9’ range. But I’d say most for the Jaws boards are around 10’ x 21+” x 3 ¾ “ or even thicker, mostly pin tails with slight variations and just about all are 5 fins, to be easily ridden as quads or thrusters. The last couple weeks I finished a winter quiver of 9’6”, 10’2”, 10’6” with slight variety in designs so they can be ridden at the outer reefs and Jaws. Building these types of paddle-in boards is fun and exciting, people are trusting their lives with my boards, so there is always a lot of attention to detail. Feedback from the riders is key with these boards. Hearing how the boards feel on the big waves help me understand and know which element of the design are influencing the ride. Naturally, getting good feedback is like a validation for the designs I’m using. Ultimately, I need to feel good about the board before I can hand it off to the surfers. Read full Interview
Can you tell us about some of the big-wave guns you having been shaping for Pe’ahi?
Pe’ahi guns are special to me as I was making specialized Jaws boards before anyone knew that paddle surfing Jaws was possible. I love the fact that I am in a place at a time where big wave surfing has changed forever. To be more specific, my tried and true models are a 8’4″ west bowl special, 9’9″ mid peak board, the standard 10’6″ Jaws Mega Gun that everyone has and an 11’2″ North Peak Mega Gun for that ONE surfer willing to catch the one and only biggest wave of the day.
Who are some of the guys you have been making Pe’ahi guns for and what are they riding out there?
The list of past and present Jaws riders is long since it was only myself, Timpone and Lopez making those boards. Currently it is almost everyone but I will just name Pedro Calado since he just set a new standard in big wave surfing with that unimaginable left that he caught last week (last winter now). That was on his 10’6″ Jaws Mega Gun Read full interview
You have been making big-wave guns for Mark Healey and Dave Wassel for a while now, tell us about some of boards you have been making them for Pe’ahi?
Both Dave and Mark are riding thrusters there…which goes against the grain for guns, especially at Pe’ahi. Dave has never really taken to quads at any length, be it shorties, Pipe boards or guns. He just does not click with them. Dave’s 10’4” he’s been riding there is 22 1/2” wide by 3 3/4” thick. Marks is 10’2” is 20 1/2” wide by 3 1/2” thick. Mark’s is unique in that the wide point is 7” ahead of center, and it has an extremely wide nose. Mark’s reason for riding thrusters at Pe’ahi is (according to him) my 10’2” rides like a 8’0”. Very maneuverable, yet very stable. They both tell me the one characteristic my guns have (that most guns don’t) is they paddle extremely well, and are maneuverable. Their guns both share traits typical of the guns I shape. Fuller rails, foil carried out to the ends a bit more. Slightly wider noses. Very forgiving edges in the front half.
What’s some of the changes in design that’s happening with big wave boards right now?
Well, I think right now gun design is really the next frontier. In the past few months, the bar for big wave paddle surfing has been raised immensely. The swell at Pe’ahi last Friday was like watching a CGI movie…..those guys were making history out there….unbelievable. In a broad sense, I think creating guns that paddle faster, get up on plane quicker and don’t flex quite as much are a few elements that would help. Weight is a key element as well. I think riding boards in the low to mid thirty pound range might be more and more commonplace. Possibly lower entry rockers depending on the spot. I think gun design is in a state of flux right now and it’s pretty exciting to be a very small part of it. I think in years to come this will be looked back upon as a turning point in gun design. Read full interview
Whats the story behind the board you caught your huge right on out at Pe’ahi? What were the dimensions?
The board was a 10’2 x 20 3/4” x 3 1/4”. This board was special to me because it was the last board that I completely hand-shaped (now have on comp. so don’t have to spend as much time). The story behind this board is super classic, because everything along the way seemingly went not to plan. It’s so funny because I remember being so over planing down the volume to get it to the numbers I wanted. I just said forget it and decided to leave it. later on towards the end of the glassing process I decided to get creative with some color on deck and rails. As I brushed on the color as luck would have it the temp outside dropped with nightfall and made the resin never get completely hard on the bottom causing it to kept dripping off. Long story short I had to add a bunch more color and extra hot coat the next day to make it all come together. Needless to say the board came out looking like something straight out of a Frankenstein movie as far as color goes, but I still really liked how the overall board came out. In the end the board was a little thicker, a little heavier, and a little more colorful then planned, but from the first wave I rode on it I knew it was magic. I later nicknamed her “Black Beauty”, and saved her for only the special days. I rode some amazing wave on that board, and was sad to see it go, but am super thankful because It made me take the time to put all my boards on file.
How long have you been shaping boards?
I have been shaping boards off and on since I was about 12 and I’m 34 now.
What do you need in a board to get into a wave like that?
It’s super hard to say what kind of board you need to ride a really big wave. I don’t think there is a wrong or right combination, but rather a good combination of board for the style of surfer riding it . My boards for big waves are a lot different than most guys are riding. They are a bit shorter, narrower, and a lot thinner. However, I make them that way because I tend to sit underneath and whip around late and in most cases knifing it down the face. Most guys like to get in early and for that you can get away with different boards. In general if you wanted to catch a big wave you would need a board in the 9’6” and up range and suited to what you are comfortable with.
You unfortunately broke your board that day. Is the next Pe’ahi gun you make going to be any different?
Exact same, working on three more as we speak, minus drama of course lol.
*all photos submitted via Jeff Timpone, Matt Kinoshita, Ron Meeks and Aaron Gold