Words: Alberto Galletti / RT surfboards
Surfer: Antonin de Soultrait
Photos d’action: Eric Zudaire
Version française ICI
On a hot summer day, we sat together with Antonin de Soultrait, talking about big goals and big boards for the following winter…
After successfully paddling into a Belharra beast, mastering the ride on a board I had specifically developed for that wave, he was now looking for a shape tailored to make him comfortable in (big) hollow waves.
As we went on envisioning the challenges he wanted to tackle, we thought about the most suitable shape for these conditions: a board capable of holding the most steep drops and yet manœuvrable enough to be able to draw nice lines on open faces.
It was about bringing together several different qualities; all important, some of them also contradictory.
To be comfortable in big, hollow and fast moving waves, generating strong apparent wind, you need excellent paddling capabilities; you want the board to stick to the wave, minimizing the risk of air-dropping; on a steep drop you don’t want the front rail to catch; you want all the speed and the control you can get, but efficient handling as well, to be able to adjust your line and turn upon your wish…
With no boundaries nor fixed guidelines, I let all the information sink for some time, until it all came together on a design that I thought would answer the call… a 10‘6‘‘ x 21.00‘‘ x 4.00‘‘ – 88,4L. with some peculiar features…
With the appropriate size, a slight, relaxed rocker line and plenty of thickness, the shape is already set for great paddling capability; the increased thickness on the rear part delivers an extra kick, for a sweet early entry. The nose is boldly pulled in, fairly thick and features a deep vee bottom, all with the purpose of offering less resistance to the apparent wind and minimizing the risk of catching the front rail while dropping steep faces. Nicely fitting the design of the front part, the wide point is brought further back, adding slightly more planing area and outline curve than normal, letting the surfer naturally stand in the ‘’driver seat’’. for supreme handling and control. Last but not least, to trim the extra thickness into a functional rail, I shaped a distinctive step-deck, to bring the rail profile to a fair size, for good bite and sensitive driving.
Very exciting in itself, but also a way to confirm in some XL conditions the concepts that I apply in shapes for much more accessible conditions:
Placement of volume further back to enhance take-off capabilities
Narrower nose, with ultra rounded rails and inverted apex, to make the board more forgiving and improve manoeuvrability
Double concave deck for better ergonomics and strength
Intertwined conception “rocker curve / bottom design”, for both glide and handling
Interpretation of the surfer’s requirements and translation into specific features …
Now, all of this might be thoroughly studied and purposely built… still, the surfer feedback is the only thing that really matters.
Shortly upon receiving the board, Antonin tried it in lesser conditions, as he always does with a new shape, just to get the feeling… and It was good for what it was, but clearly still not the real thing.
Then one of the last days of February, the planets aligned for a beautiful set-up: a sizable swell, offshore winds and nice weather.
And the board delivered the way we expected.
As Antonin put it: ‘’the board paddle extra well, it has a surprising manoeuvrability for its size and the narrow nose cut nicely through the wind. I think I can be comfortable in much bigger surf than that on that board.”
Never getting tired trying to translate a surfer wish into an actual board!
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