Ride Report: The 7’2 Barque Wooden Surfboard

18 . 03 . 24

Back in 2021 we were joined by Michael on one of our ‘make your own’ wooden surfboard workshops, here’s his recollection of the first time he took his fresh new 7’2 Barque in for a surf…

The first time I paddled out on my Otter 7’2” Barque was a joyous moment.

Carrying it down the beach filled me with a sense of pride, but as a soul surfer, it’s always more about how it feels to me, than how it looks to others.I had only ridden a wooden board once before in my life. A 12 ft longboard in Waikiki, Oahu, many years ago. My memory of that ride was more about the whole feeling of surfing Hawaii, with the clear water, the sounds of Ukulele drifting out from the beachside hotels, and I remember the sound of the water on the board as I rode those waves. It was a chattering sound of the water chop on a hollow wooden hull. I remember at the time thinking that such a beautiful sound could not have been something as simple as a hollow echo, an easily explained example of acoustic science, but instead it must have been the sound of the Hawaiian sea Gods gently clapping to applaud my ride.

So here I was, about 20 years later, padding out at sunrise on the North Cornwall coast on my own wooden board. Luck was with me, with a perfect clean swell for my first ride on an unknown board.

The first thing I realised was the ease at which it paddled and held its line in the water.  It wasn’t twisting around beneath me or wobbling with my clumsy early morning strokes.  It felt solid and sturdy through the white water.  As I got further out, a set came, and I found myself faced with the decision to duck dive or roll.  I wasn’t sure about duck diving a 7’2” wooden board but I went for it anyway.  I was amazed at how well it went under the wave.  Despite the volume and the heavy feel of the board, the nose went easily into the wave and the tail followed smoothly.  It actually duck dived much easier than some of my fibre glass boards because it glided a straight line, with purpose, and it seemed to take less effort to keep it on course through the body of the wave.

When I got to the line up, it was a joy to sit and take in the view from my own wooden bench, out at sea.

When my set came, I knew to start paddling a little earlier than I normally would.  I got it moving and found myself in the right spot for one of the set waves.  As I felt the push and popped to my feet, I became aware of the steady way in which it held its line down the face, with purpose and conviction.  I raced along the face, trimming it up and down.  It was easy to glide up and down the face, with graceful turns, which was what I really wanted from this board.  I knew this beautiful board was here to trim, glide, and tease up and down the face.

I got it to a sweet spot of balance and picked up speed along the wave.  And then I heard it.  That noise.  The chattering of the wind chop on the wave, tapping on the base of my board and vibrating the air within my hollow wooden surfboard.  That magical sound, of a wave gently drumming out music on the base of my board as I rode the wave.

Or maybe it was the sea Gods clapping, after all.

Micheal Derby, 2023

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