Roma Reviews: 9’1″ Wicket Longboard and 6’4″ Woodburner Fish
24 . 08 . 19
More often than not, when the waves are good and we arrive at our local beach before sunrise to surf before work, we end up parked next to and surfing with our friends Rob, Larry and Dan. All three of them work for Finisterre, but Rob also runs Roma in his spare time, a design-led surfboard brand that began as a mobile shop selling surfboards out of the back of his van. Rob knows surfboards and the intricacies of surfboard design, and works with Bro and Paul at Diplock Phoenix, the guys who we trust to laminate finish our wooden surfboards, to bring his exacting designs to life. As close friends, Dan and Larry are Rob’s test pilots. These guys are good surfers who know their surfboards and are well tuned in to the what they feel through their feet. So, a few weeks ago when we met Rob and Larry in the beach car park early one morning, we invited them to trade up to wooden surfboards to give us some detailed feedback on how our wooden surfboards ride.
“With the tide dropping from early morning and a little less swell getting in than expected I was pleased to see Jimmy stroll down with a longboard.
It looked around 9ft, smooth pintail, straight single and the sort of template that’s going to feel familiar as soon as you jump on it.
It felt weighty under my arm with a nice bit of volume running through the middle. In small clean waves this weight turned into an effortless glide cutting through what was left of the back wash, pulling a predictable line off the bottom and setting a high confident line. A better surfer would do more, but for me on a quiet morning on an early start taking one step to the middle and finding that line was the aim.
After one ride I kicked off pretty close to a big rock that I could have sworn didn’t live there! I’m sure these boards could take an absolute beating but with it not being mine, I was happy to hand it back at the end unscathed.
I’m looking forward to taking a proper drop on a bigger wave and getting used to pushing the full force of this one through a proper turn.”
My first outing on an Otter board was a few years ago, on one of the finer days in Cornwall – an anomaly of a late summer swell, a glassy left hander, shoulder high (I’m 6’4′) with enough face and wall to cut back onto my preferred forehand.
Twinning on a 5’10” fish, to this day I can still recall the surprising comments of another surfer as I paddled back out after what felt like a conveyor belt of a session. The stranger in neoprene referenced how similar the sight of me surfing in front of him resembled that of a scene from ‘Morning of the Earth’. In thanking him for the most gracious and standout comment of my surfing life to date, I went on to acknowledge the board and golden sunset that I believe were more deserving of the praise.
This morning on the 6’4” Woodburner the conditions were considerably different to that of the above recollection – smaller and more section, but it did involve having a wooden fish underfoot and as expected it was fast: effortlessly and naturally fast. The welcome weight of wood, (and the sound of G. Wayne Thomas suddenly playing in my ears) an Otter board serves up creates a different surfing experience all together. The Woodburner’s bigger and heavier than the sort of fish that I’d normally ride but it swings into waves smoothly and once it’s up to speed it runs off down the line really quickly so I could pump through and link fast sections easily, making it right through to the little inside section on a few with speed to burn.
This being a bigger fish, I think it’d go even better in bigger waves so that it has a bit more wave face to explore and more space to turn; these waves were of a size probably more suited to the smaller Fetch which has a tighter turning radius and is a bit easier to turn. Next time it gets a bit bigger though, I’d love to take the Woodburner out again – especially if it’s glassy and the sun’s setting…”