Life On The Edge With Ellis Ericson
There is no doubting that George Greenough has influenced surfboard design in the past but few people know he is still at it today at 74 years of age. Some of us have picked up what he is putting down and the results have been typically mind bending. George has shaped four, edge-bottom boards that are the most far out boards you have ever seen – faster than the snot flying out your nose mid-sneeze – the boards go so fast on waves of size that bottom-turns pull your eyes shut mid-turn. They are fast but they are hard to master, so Ellis Ericson, Gary McNeil, and I have had a crack at interpreting George’s genius into something us mere mortals can ride.
It’s pretty rare in my experience to have another shaper share templates, so it was really amazing to see how stoked George is with his knowledge, and how sharing he is. I love how he drills his theories into you with his stoke, his ideas are so clear to him ’cause they just work. And I love how he relates the boards to muscle cars. He has been on the edge-bottom concept for a long time, he is sold on the idea of the edges, spoons, windsurfers etc… the Campbell brothers are like that too, just into their Bonzer concept, and it is really great to listen to people like that who have such clarity about a design. I haven’t made any commercial boards like this for anyone, it’s just a personal trip.
[Top Left] Bluey is a mixing of shortboard dimensions with the GG outline stretched out a little bit, it’s 5’10”, 18 x 3/4, 2 x 3/8. It started as a twinny but felt clustered, too much going on, so I moved them into a regular thruster formation but it still feels like too much, the fins would fight with the forward vee for control. We have been brought up in the multi-fin era, so it’s fun to check out how George’s designs work with what we have grown up with but it seems like the less the better. I like the twins the best. – Ellis Ericson
[Top Right] This Gary McNeil shaped fish has the edge-bottom concept through it but slightly changed. Under the front foot, its grab and hold to the wave’s face is due to the edge running right up towards the nose. We’re feeling that the edge increases its hold, which means the fins can be smaller, and that reduces drag. Speed is an obvious result of that combo but what also happens is that the front foot becomes a collaborator in the leverage game of surfing, and that is a super fresh experience. – David Rastovich
[Bottom Row L to R] Yellow Cloud is 5’9” by around 19 x 3/4 at least three inches thick. It’s out of the flattest crude blank. It’s off the mould’s template, but stretched up… I did three for myself and did that one for DR, then one for Kidman which was number five. If you can ride it switch as your inner kook and it works, then you have a good one. – Ellis Ericson
Swallow tail, same template as GG’s 5’9” stubby but with a swallow. It has a more toned down edge that runs out through the nose a little more. George shared his templates with me and this was the first one I did after that, it has more versatility, you could feel the edge in all the turns… it releases before the tail and the nose. It’s the first one to fit with my surfing more, it has a bit more contemporary rocker. – Ellis Ericson
‘‘Riding these edge boards is like driving powerful bulldozers!” George Greenough
The 6’3”, 18 x 1/2 wide is direct from George sharing his templates, I didn’t add any concave in the centre plane, it has a cathedral hull, set up as a two plus one fin set-up. I haven’t had it in the waves it needs yet. – Ellis Ericson
Red Rail is the first board I did since meeting up with George, I made it in Bali. It has the mould-bottom outline and is 5’7” by 19 x 1/4. I have had some harder moments on it, it’s my primitive rendition of his stuff but it feels like the precursor to the swallow tail where you can feel the edge working really well. – Ellis Ericson
This spoon is made out of GG’s mould from a late 70s edge-bottom spoon. We scrounged together scrap pieces of foam from his garden and cut them to size, then glued them into the mould. I filled the gaps between the foam pieces with that expanding foam stuff that comes in a spray can. I glassed it under George’s house with his help, and painted it up. It’s a bit thicker than his standard spoons, so the rider can stand up on it, but it is still super thin and hard to ride. It hasn’t been a huge success yet. – David Rastovich
This Dick Van Straalen 5’5” fish has a great story behind it. It is a remake of the first fish Dirk made for me around 15 years ago. It just so happens that it fits perfectly into the edge-bottom spoon mould of George’s. Amazing! Separated by around 30 years of design and the same outline surfaces as a totally functional shape. This fish is the only other board I have ever ridden that does the same kinds of hydro-foiling experienced on George’s boards. – David Rastovich.