Last weekend, while attending the Sunset Beach Handplane Demo Day, I met a fascinating surfboard shaper by the name of Jeff Beck. Through his company, Nine Lights, Jeff is performing some incredible experiments that could change the surfing industry. He had many of his boards on-hand to try for free, which is a regular part of the “demo day” ethos.
The first board that I tried, called the Slipper, perfectly represents Jeff’s unique design sense. The board has no stringer and instead uses a thin piece of wood on top (fiberglass bottom). According to Jeff, “when you remove the stringer it opens up all sorts of design possibilities. You can experiment with different shapes and sizes.” He said the wood top provides as much, or more, strength than the stringer would provide.
I took the board out to try him at his word. Now, I’m 6-feet tall and weigh 180+ pounds. I pounded the hell out of that board because it is a modified Alaia, which means no fins, long and real thin (picture below). You have to pop-up quick and immediately start turning. The board never once gave or bent and felt stronger than my classic stringer boards. I definitely think Jeff is on to something, and it was so much fun to ride that it was my favorite of the event.
To give you more insight into Jeff’s innovative thinking I want to tell you about his handplanes made out of aerospace airplane wings. Made from the foam in the wings they are super-strong and amazingly lightweight. When you hold it in your hand all the weight you feel is in the leash. I tried one out and it definitely feels stronger than regular surfboard EPS foam (I kept smacking it because I couldn’t believe how strong it was). An amazing way to recycle old airplanes and turn them into a fun ride.
Overall, I was truly impressed by Jeff’s deep understanding of surfboard design, experimental concepts, and his environmental focus. The next time I’m in the market for a surfboard I will assuredly be checking out Nine Lights Surfboards.