By Michael Kew
November 2014: my Carpinteria possessions are stuffed into a 10x10 storage unit off Via Real.
The future: a riverside cabin six miles north of California. Three-month (minimum) lease.
The transfer: 14 hours from Carp to Brookings with a carload of basics—one fatbike, one surfboard, three cats. I’d planned to ping south a month later, pack a U-Haul, return to Oregon, and push my domestic goods into a 5x10 storage unit till I found an unfurnished cabin in coastal rainforest. Meanwhile, the surfboard—a white 7’0” Ryan Lovelace single-fin “Kegg”—would bridge the gap. Just a few no-quiver weeks, right?
Backstory: in May 2014, I asked Lovelace to craft the Kegg (portmanteau of Kew and egg), a wide, thin hull for a variety of surf—small, medium, mushy, hollow, almondy, weak, strong, long, short, rights, lefts, reforms, reefs, points, bullish beachbreaks. A one-board quiver, you might say.
But this was not the Kegg kismet. I’d aimed to plug it into my foam-fiberglass gyre, ranging from a 5’2” finless to a 9’11” fish. In the 805, I rode them all—sometimes a few the same day or in the same hour. Easy to do at loyal right points. But to a simple man like me, the quiver seemed superfluous.
August 2015: my stuff is still in the storage unit, near Ophelia, Lovelace’s merry bus/home that’s parked on a communal Highway 150 knoll. I’m still in the furnished cabin, 730 miles north, and I’m still riding the Kegg. It has no dings. I have no other surfboards here. It’s been a chance, 10-month, one-board era—the fourth in my surf life.
One-Board Epoch 1—Encinitas, 1986. A brown 6’3” Surfboards Hawaii four-channel, two-wing thruster, found in the used rack at the old Sunset store (now a bike shop) on First Street. I rode the 6’3” exclusively for one year. It was my first surfboard.
Then came many Channel Islands shapes as my dad’s friend (Tom Curren’s stockbroker) could swing deals on custom Merricks. Growing up, Montecito family trips were common, with fluorescent-wetsuit jaunts to the Ranch. At my Encinitas middle school, full of surfers, no one knew about Channel Islands.
During high school, I chose local, buying boards from Gary McNabb and World Core, chased by the many Matt Muhlethaler basement creations that crept through my collegiate Isla Vista-Arcata years. In 1997 I again went local, placing orders with Humboldt foamsmiths Allen Main and Brian Kang, capped by a blue-yellow zigzag-striped shape I found while hiking.
One-Board Epoch 2—Lost Coast, 1998: A rotund 7’6” Raisin with three pink fins. Like a trans-Pacific relic from Japan, it lay thrashed and half-buried in sand at the mouth of a creek. “Finders, keepers!” the friendly shaper, Ben, later said with a laugh. He fixed the dings for free. The Raisin surfed well in myriad waves, so I shunned my other boards for two years.
The zigzag airbrush repelled sharks, Ben said. He gave me a black long-sleeve Raisin shirt; I gave him six-packs of fresh Red Nectar Ale, a perk of working for Arcata’s Humboldt Brewing Company. Ben lived near Whitethorn but was originally from Santa Barbara, to where I remigrated in 2000.
One-Board Epoch 3—Goleta, 2001. A family friend gave an 8’0” Todd Kay tri-fin “T8” model to my dad, but he didn’t surf it. So Dad leant it to me; I rode it for 18 months. When Dad reclaimed the T8, my quiver infusions flowed from Fletcher Chouinard and Dave Parmenter. Next were piles of customs from Marc Andreini, Mr. Lovelace, and Kyle Albers, plus one-offs from Larry Mabile, Gregg Tally, and Connor Lyon.
Today, amid One-Board Epoch 4, I enjoy the lack of choice, the autopilot ease. The Kegg lives in my car. It has simplified things. No thoughts wasted, no debate on what to surf. Epoch 4 could last for a while.
Yet old habits die hard. Next week, I’m getting a 5’3” fish that Joe Curren shaped for me. After that? Carpinteria.