‘Twas no classic anti-hipster slap-down. Nary a hull hoax nor alaia redux, and this had nothing to do with designer handplanes. In May 2011, Santa Barbara’s Ryan Lovelace grappled with a real-life coup d’état.
Call it the v.Bowls Victory.
“There was a huge void in surfboard design, flanked by either long shortboards or short longboards,” Lovelace said of his mindset 16 months yore. “I was curious to probe that void.”
But, wait, Ryan — what’s a v.Bowls?
“Many people assume, since I was heavily into hulls the last few years, that it’s a hull. It’s not. I took what I learned from the research and development that I dedicated to traditional displacement hulls, and I directed some of those curves and balances into a template that is much more approachable and adaptable to different waves and surfing styles.”
Lovelace’s first v.Bowls, a yellowy 8-footer, afforded a greased break from aforementioned hull behavior, a perky verve coupled with traditional soapy flow and speed, a combo foreign from prior mid-length talking points.
“I ended up flipping my hull template backward and putting a really narrow, round nose on it,” he said, “basically stretching and reversing what I’d been shaping for the past couple years. With that came a massive change in foil and balance. Everything shifted from forward to backward, which changed the rocker, the rail line, the deck curve, and the thickness flow, but their relationship — how they worked together — stayed the same.
“With the v.Bowls, you keep the ball-bearing feeling and boost that a traditional hull gives you when you step forward on it. With my first v.Bowls, I had that acceleration and juice right where 90 percent of surfers naturally stand on a surfboard, and I didn’t lose any of the forward trim that we’re all so addicted to.”
And so, in vernal 2011, the v.Bowls that Lovelace shaped for himself simultaneously parted the oft-misunderstood mid-length veil.
Ventura’s Troy Mothershead, another elite shredder on all craft, was immediately and deeply moved by the v.Bowls aesthetic.
“It had such a unique outline,” he said. “My initial thought was, ‘That’s an odd-looking surfboard.’ I’m not sure I’d seen anything similar.”
Odd-looking is now a permanent trait of his select quiver.
“The v.Bowls gives you a different waveriding perspective,” he said. “It has challenged and freed my mind. It does unique things that other boards won’t. It glides and drives off the bottom superbly. It definitely wants to be in the bowl, and the bowl is where all the magic happens. It persuades you to slow yourself down and check in with what the wave wants you to do. There is something special hidden within the lines that makes it stand alone.”
Trevor Gordon: “The first time I saw the design, it was Ryan riding his yellow board at Leadbetter. That thing was going so fast on such slow waves — I had to get my hands on one. It’s definitely in a league of its own. Mine draws lines and glides effortlessly, making me really relax while I’m surfing, makes me think ahead to what’s going to happen down the line, much more so than I would on a smaller board.”
“The v.Bowls changed my approach to surfing,” Goleta stylist Mike McCrary said. “I now see waves with more flow than ever. Wild, high-trim groovy lines lead into long cutbacks, all started by fade-away take-offs and slingshotting high-lines.”
Ironically, Lovelace’s mid-length cabal was sparked by Wayne Lynch, the “teenage messiah,” according to surf scribe Matt Warshaw, of Australia’s late-1960s shortboard revolution.
“I was inspired by a board that my friend Jordan Nobel in Australia had shaped as a new-school ‘Evolution’-style Wayne Lynch egg,” Lovelace said. “I borrowed that board and it sparked my thoughts and gave me a heavy desire to shape a board inspired by it when I got home.”
We’re glad you came home, Ryan.
A custom v.Bowls would likely suit you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Click: rlovelace.com and pcprogress.blogspot.com.
time and place are irrelevant.
music: OGD (Road Song) by Jimmy Smith and Wes Montgomery
Footage by Nicole Fletcher and Michael Kew.
Trevor laying down some fluidity on the v.Bowls. I've used a few bits of these waves in clips before but nothing beats a clean, full-wave shot.
Shot by Michael Kew somewhere around Santa Barbara and edited by Ryan Lovelace.
Music: Intuition by Feist