A few months ago, all-around incredible human Dane Gudauskas and surfboard craftsman Donald Brink had an idea. In their collaborative pursuit to explore different sensations in surfing, they sought to recreate the magic of the old wooden "kookbox" designs of the 1930s.
They spent a day swinging from the rafters at the Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente, examining all the different outlines and construction techniques of the classic old boards in the museum's extensive collection. Originally engineered by early surf pioneer and waterman Tom Blake, on average, the historic boards are about 12 feet long and weigh an average of 40-50 pounds. Considered a huge innovation at the time, the hollow, chambered construction allowed Blake to shed considerable weight from the surfboards of the previous era, which clocked in between 60 and 100 pounds. By comparison, most of the boards that men and women on Tour ride today weigh under six pounds.
When he was 18 years old, Blake, originally from Milwaukee, happened to meet the great Duke Kahanamoku in Detroit. By 1924 he was embarking on his first trip to Hawaii and by 1929 was developing what he called his "cigar box" design. The boards remained common in lineups in Hawaii and California throughout the ‘30s and ‘40s, and even today there are a number of people that enjoy the challenge of trying to tame these unwieldy wooden beasts.
Fast forward almost a century, and Gudauskas and Brink are among that small crew. Curious to see what would happen if they built and rode one of the boards today, turns out, it works pretty well. Brink went to work in his Capo Beach shaping bay/skunkworks and the craftsmanship and attention to detail he emerged with is simply stunning. The board is as much a piece of art as it is a functional surfboard. Brink builds some beautiful surfboards, but he may have out done himself on this one.
And stunt pilot Gudauskas soars on the thing at San Onofre, a fitting test site for a board of this ilk. If you're into surf history and have an open mind about what constitutes "performance" surf craft, give his new edit, "Finding The Line: Experimentations on a 14 Foot Tom Blake Inspired Kookbox Surfboard," a peep.