Another specialty of mine are fish shapes. Fish designs were made popular in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Most of these were directly derived from the knee board designs of San Diego’s Steve Lis. Hawaii’s Jimmy Blears won the ’72 World Contest riding one in sloppy 3 ft surf. Along with the wide-tailed parallel outline and the deep (9 in.) inside tail cuts of this unique shape, the standard fins for these boards have always been the twin, keel type (foiled on both in and out sides) positioned in seemingly parallel and straight up placements.
In 1975 I took to Australia my version of that design because I needed a small wave weapon in my quiver that would function in the smallest of contest surf. I made some important departures from the original and standard fish design to accommodate my style. Rather than an essential knee board shape that had been adapted to be stood on, I wanted to make a short board that had fish qualities ie. high speed planing and quick direction changes in mushy, low speed surf. The dimensions for that board were 5’7”x 21”x 2.75”. The nose was 17” and the tail width was 15 and a half. I put a wide concave under the nose, followed by “rolled” flat area, then a dead flat section going into a vee portion of the bottom between the fins, ending with another dead flat section behind the fins between the tail cuts. The bottom rocker overall was fairly straight, but I did add some kick in the tail.
Along with this, what I think made this board surf so well was that I had put more curve in the board’s outline going into the tail than the standard Lis template which is distinctly parallel, almost appearing straight there. In addition, I had added my signature deeply-fluted wings 10.5” up and unlike the keel fins, I opted for conventional pivot fin templates scaled down. Probably most important was the fact that the fins themselves were toed-in, tilted out and were flat on their inside surfaces which, in symphony with everything else made the board accelerate when other boards would bog.
MR got so excited about the board’s qualities that he practically lassoed me into his shaping room to get templates, measurements and ideas so he could make his version. In a few short years he practically re-invented the meaning of high-performance surfing with his twin-finned versions of my original fish becoming a world champion in the process. If you are looking for a modern fish design that will accommodate the current popularity of quad fins, talk to me, I’m sure we can find the perfect combination of design ingredients to make your next fish fly!