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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Fishy fish

"In case you hadn't noticed, surfera are indulging in a pretentious orgy of retro-fascination. For us, it's all about seventies soul; that epoch of acid-soaked summers. long, sun-bleached hair, broad brown backs thrown stiffly Into soul arches and empty points ripe for an eruption of twin-fin speed.

. Ride a fish for any decent period and your soft legs will atrophy, your turns will become soft and puny and you'll forget about hunting tubes - but, man, what speed! What a rush!And the surfboard of choice is The Fish. And when we say, The Fish, we don't mean wide versions of 6'2" thrusters, "but short (around 5'6"), wide (at least 20") twin-fins strangely reminiscent of a kneeboard. Here's what it's all about...

San Diego kneeboarder Steve Lis is the hip cat who turned the world onto this style of board. Lis wanted more speed than was being created by craft in the mid-sixties so he used elements from an old design called the Superboard (by Bear Mirandon) that featured a split-tail (we call it a swallow) and twin fins. Lis' new board, a 4'8", was wide, fast and featured a flat rocker. You want speed, dirty hippy? You got it. Hang on, why aren't you in Nam shooting up the yella man??

A few years later, Lis and his stand-up mates are hanging out beachside when Jeff Ching decides to surf, stand-up, on Lis' kneelo. Everyone's jaws drop. The thing is a rocket. Remember, this is when all the other fags were dripping digits off the nose of their suddenly superceded longboards.

Its performance proven, Lis starts making em for his friends at $21 a shot. Another friend, Larry Gephart, discovers that sanding a foil into laminated birch creates lighter and more flexible fins than the fibreglass fins Lis is using. The Lis fish/ Gephart fin combo becomes the gold standard.

Hawaiian Reno Abellira, later a convicted drug dealer and fugitive from the FBI bless his heart, rocks up to Australia in 1975 for the Coke contest and rides his twinny Fish. Mark Richards sees the speed generated in the shitty waves, builds his own version, and dominates the tour in a manner not matched until the arrival of Slater.

It all goes quiet on the Fish front (mainly cause of a mildly-influential invention called The Thruster) until 1993 when eccentric three-time world champion, Tom Curren, surfs a heat in France on a 5'5", four-inch-thick twin-fin he bought at a garage sale in New York. He demolishes 22-year-old Matt Hoy, rated eighth in the world at the time.

One year later, Tom rides a hybrid version of the fish shaped by Michael Peterson's little brother, Tom, in 10-foot Sumatran waves: covers and glowing tributes follow. The board, called a Fireball Fish, is a whacked-out design: step-tail, thin narrow nose, three-fins. Still, it's enough to generate a career for the little-known shaper.

Californian shaper Matt Biolos hears about Curren surfing Log Cabins circa '94 on a Fish, Intrigued, he checks out a few twin-fins then builds a 5'5" x 19 1/4" wide, round-nose swallow tail. The following year, ...Lost teamriders, Cory Lopez and Chris Ward, ride the little boards to great effect in the woefully under appreciated flick, 5'5" x 19 1/4". To this day, the Biolos twinnies (with plugs for a third fin if you can't handle the drive and looseness) represent the modern era's best retort to the Lis fish."

-Stab Magazine

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