Chatting with CJ Nelson
About his new board designs
In addition to catching a few waves at the Surf Ranch last month, I also got to chat with CJ Nelson while I was there about the new boards he has been designing. Here is what he had to say!
“I decided that it was time to reinvent the Classic and give the people a no-brainer board, so that’s what the Neo-Classic is. It has become my primary focus in log riding. It has edge in the tail, a slight step-deck, flip in the tail, a lot of volume. It’s a pintail, which is great for Hawaii, and it’s just so much fun.
“As far as construction goes, they have the Thunderbolt interior, and we do a carbon version of it, but for the most part we are trying to do them in volan cloth, which is heavier and more traditional.”
“I wanted to make something that’s really easy to transition from a traditional longboard or high-performance longboard to a smaller board. It has a flat bottom with roll in the nose—kind of hull-esque—but the concept was to make a board that you don’t have to pump or work for speed. It loves to climb and drop, and to trim from the center point. It’s just a lot of reward without a lot of work, so it’s a great board for all levels. And it also works for all sizes. I ride it from knee-high to double overhead, and it hasn’t let me down yet.”
I’ve always wanted to find a board that would turn like a high-performance board, but that you didn’t have to pump—you could just trim it. So when I came up with that idea, I looked into displacement hulls and all sorts of stuff that’s going on at Malibu. We ended up making a displacement hull longboard that we called the Parallax, and it changed my outlook on everything because now I can do the turns without looking like a short boarder trying to ride a longboard. Over time we’ve tamed down the production boards that you have there at Hawaiian South Shore so that they are easier to ride because displacement hulls are usually pretty difficult to ride. So now anybody can go out and do beautiful cutbacks on them. They hold speed incredibly swell. You can trim them and turn without pumping for speed. And on a fast, running wave, you can noseride them. They just feel great to ride.”
Surf Ranch Trip
One of the most exciting things that happened for me in the past few months was that I got invited to go to the Surf Ranch with the Firewire team. When the time came for the trip, I flew over to California and met up with everyone at the Firewire factory, so that we could all drive to Lemoore together. That’s a long drive! At the factory, I met Chris Grow, who had a popular YouTube channel called Shred Show. He told me that one of his inspirations was my YouTube interview with Kaipo Guerrero, one of the commentators for the WSL events. That was pretty cool to catch up with him and chat about video clips and boards and things like that!
I also met a bunch of other guys from Firewire, including Mike Millikan and Matt Mahoney. They gave me a tour of the factory, and we met up with legendary longboarder and board designer CJ Nelson, who went to the Surf Ranch with us.
When we got to Lemoore, we stayed at the casino on a Native American reservation. I had a big room, and was super stoked that I got so hooked up! But I couldn’t get the Wi-Fi to work with my last name, because as it turned out I had a roommate and the Wi-Fi was under his name! I was bummed to hear that I had a roommate, but he ended up being a great guy and a great inspiration. His name is Phil, and he runs a shop out on the East Coast. He was bedridden for several months after an injury 25 years ago, and ever since then, he has been doing yoga every morning. He did it in the hotel just before we went to the Surf Ranch—got up an hour early and did yoga in our room, and it inspired me to get back into the practice myself! It’s been a couple of years since I have done yoga, but I remember that when I had a regular practice I was able to surf better and turn harder. I’ve been doing yoga every day since I got back before I go surf, and that’s a start!
Everyone in our crew met downstairs at 6:00 a.m., and it was 33 degrees! Freezing! It was about a 10-minute ride to the Surf Ranch, where we got instructions and then geared up. Everyone in our crew was either with Firewire, a Firewire distributor, or a key Firewire retailer. I felt super blessed to get to be there with everyone.
We all used boards that were provided, and mine was a bit bigger than I’m used to, so that was a bit weird. But I also got hooked up with a brand new 4/3 wetsuit, which was pretty sweet! I haven’t been in a wetsuit for a long time, so it took me 20 minutes to get into it! Yu San, the guy behind the Thunderbolt Technology, was laughing at me, and told me that I’d die of cold if I were in a real surf location, trying to suit up outside!
I got my first wave, and my feet were freezing. I could barely feel them! I had a left, then got a right, and ended up tweaking my knee. I had a plastic brace on my knee because I’ve had a little injury the past few months, but when I did a turn on my first right I felt a bit of tweak. I went to the edge of the pool and the jet ski guy came and asked me if I wanted to sit the rest of the day out, but I thought “This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity!” so I decided I’d keep surfing, and just do lefts.
I had three heats. In each heat, everyone gets to have priority once, which means that they start at the beginning of the wave. The rest of the guys in the group sit farther down the wave and get a chance to “poach” a section if the person who is surfing falls. I got to poach one wave, but my roommate Phil got to poach five waves, so he was stoked!
The wave was really hard for me to ride. A lot of the guys in our crew had been there before and they were ripping, but for those of us who were there for our first time, it was a struggle. If you get behind the wave, there is no way to catch up. It’s just too fast. Our jet ski driver’s name was Miles, and he told me I just needed to pump like crazy as soon as I got on the wave. So I was just pumping and pumping. The fence is only like 25 feet away, but no matter how hard you pump you never get to it, so that’s sort of a weird feeling to be zooming toward it but never hit it! And then about halfway through the wave, it starts to slow down and you can play around with it a bit. The lefts don’t barrel as much as the rights, so I didn’t get a solid barrel, but I still had a lot of fun, and the vibe was nice.
The machine actually broke down on us for an hour and a half or two hours! So we took a break for lunch, and then we surfed the rest of the day once they got it started again. We were basically there from sunup to sundown. Lunch was awesome, and I had quinoa in place of rice for the first time, which was super interesting! It was quinoa, salmon, and edamame salad. I liked it so much that when I got home I told my wife about it, and we decided to start replacing rice with quinoa more often. We heard that people with kidney issues have to be careful about eating too much quinoa, but I talked to my doctor and he gave me the all-clear. So now I am really getting into quinoa, which is a healthy rice substitute. It is a whole grain seed that is cooked similar to rice but has way more protein and is way healthier. I am half Okinawan, so I can’t give up my rice completely, but I’m definitely working on replacing most of my rice with quinoa, which helps to keep my blood sugar more level.
Kelly Slater also showed up for our session and hung out for most of the day, which was pretty cool. I was too shy to ask for a picture, but I texted Keoni Watson—he’s our FCS rep and Vissla guy, and he’s pretty good friends with Slater—and he told me to get over there and meet Kelly and get a photo. So I did!
Taylor Jenson was also there and he took a shot of one of my waves, which was pretty cool. I was trying to slow down for the tube because it was barreling behind me, but by the time I slowed down, it was too late. But I think it closed out anyway—the left wasn’t quite as good as the right.
All in all, it was a super fun experience going to the Surf Ranch! It was a once-in-a-life-time experience, and I’m so stoked and thankful that Firewire invited me out, and that we get to stock their amazing boards in our shop!
Reviews and What's New
at Hawaiian South Shore
Mike Reola Cofounder of Lost Surfboards dropped to say he and give us an update on many new things to come next year. Few surfers would be surprised to learn that Lost Surfboards is the largest manufacturer of surfboards in the United States.
Thomas a very long time customer picked up a Hydronaut 6’8 x 20 11/16 x 3 V44 and he’s had it for about a year now. He’s 5’11 200lbs. “It paddles like s 7’4”, really fast is works even in choppy waves. I surf it in 6” to 8” (hwn size) with Quads.
Check out the full review here
Sean’s Mother and younger Sister dropped the shop for the first time. He was stoked to have a few days off to see both of them and a few relatives.
Ezra Rodrigues a very good friend of Hawaiian South Shore dropped in with his super cool girlfriend. Ezra is the Brand Ambassador for Thunderbolt.
Our VIP member Santosha is getting some speed down the line with his NEW CJ Nelson Outlier.
Guy— our long-time member is stoked on his Thunderbolt Ben Skinner Smoothie. Thinner than his bother boards but is paddling faster and the board handles !! Carbon fiber took about a month to break in now the board surfs even better!
Check out the full review here.
December Member of the Month:
Q&A with John Simp
When and why did you initially get into surfing?
I started surfing when I moved back to Hawaii in 2000 just before I started as a sophomore at James Campbell high school. My dad was retired military and he rented me a longboard from the MWR I surfed for the first time at barbers point. When I Caught my firsts wave I stood up and rode it all the way to Shore I surf everyday day that summer and spent every day at the beach.
Did you have a time period you laid off from surfing? If so, when and why did you start back up?
Yes after high school in 2002 my girlfriend at the time who is now my wife of 14 yrs was pregnant with my son who is 16 yrs old now. I didn’t surf for about 10yrs because I had to get a real job and provide for my family I was an electrician for 10 years. I started surfing again when I landed a new job they gave me more freedom and more time with my kids my inspiration to get back on a surfboard was watching YouTube and looking at the Donald Takayama scorpion only because I came from a longboarding background.
What is your favorite thing about surfing?
My favorite thing about surfing is that I have the ability to Surf longboard and Shortboard and hanging out with friends.
Where is your favorite place to eat after surfing? What is your favorite item on the menu?
My favorite place to eat would be Taco Bell probably because I’m really hungry after surfing for 4 to 6 hours at one time Favorite item on the menu Two bean burritos and one double Dekker taco.
What other hobbies do you have besides surfing?
My other hobbies would be cruising on my skateboard and riding my mountain bike in the trails.
What type of work do you do?
After being an electrician for 10 years I am now an electrical inspector for a private company in Hawaii.
Tell us about the board you recently purchased from us. What model and size is it, and how do you like its performance?
I have recently purchased two boards from you guys Rob Machado Seaside and lib tech freak flag bean bag. Both boards are awesome and both are very different the seaside by Rob Machado was probably the best shortboard I ever bought it’s fast and very responsive the board catches every wave you want.
The lib tech freak flag bean bag is like a mini longboard comparable to the takayama scorpion it also catches every wave you want both boards are awesome.
Do you have any additional comments?
Yes, one Tolhurst Moe please haha also thanks for keeping up with the latest and greatest boards.
Ability: Beginner - Expert Bottom Contours: Single / Double
Rails: Medium Ideal Wave Size: 1-5ft
I’ve really been wanting to play around with some longer fishy kind of boards for a while now... Ever since I spent some time with Skip Frye and he showed me some of his fishes in the 7 foot range It’s been on my mind. I first stretched out the GO FISH and made a 7 footer. It worked great and really got my mind spinning. Then I made a 7’0 seaside and it became one of my favorite boards in my quiver. I rode it in everything. Super small days, bigger days and everything in between. It’s become a board that I will take with me every where I go.
It’s like a layaway but you go home with your favorite board today. You pay no interest as long as you make your monthly payments, you can pay it off any time you want with no penalty.
Synchrony Bank is a major issuer of store credit cards in the U.S. We’ve hundreds of people over the past 15 years that’s used this card with us. It take 10 minutes to fill out the online app with two forms of ID; less than 5 seconds later you get an approval and can walk with your new board. Questions? Come in or call us 808-597-9055.
*Offer applies only to single-receipt qualifying purchases. No interest will be charged on the promo purchase if you pay the promo purchase amount in full within 12 Months. If you do not, interest will be charged on the promo purchase from the purchase date. Depending on purchase amount, promotion length and payment allocation, the required minimum monthly payments may or may not pay off purchase by end of promotional period. Regular account terms apply to non-promotional purchases and, after promotion ends, to promotional balance. For new accounts: Purchase APR is 29.99%; Minimum Interest Charge is $2. Existing cardholders should see their credit card agreement for their applicable terms. Subject to credit approval.