A parallel universe
As Murphy’s law would have it, the swell picks up on the day of our departure.
We’re back at the right where the trip began and the 4ft lines are being sculpted into idyllic, pyramid peaks before running down the line at a forgiving pace. It reminds me of a good day on the south shore of Oahu and while the pros sleep in after giving it a good nudge on the final night, I surf for an hour and a half alone, making a wave-pig of myself on a Channel Islands twinny; relishing the fact that it’s still taboo to reach for the comfort of a thruster.
After 10 days even I’ve grown accustomed to the benefits of a twinny. Sections are chased down with little more than a subtle speed trim and every turn has a sensory quality that you won’t find on a thruster. Maybe it’s because you can connect to all the moving water underneath, flowing straight down the board and out the back via the sexy swallow tail; instead of relying on that back fin for leverage and control it’s about feeling the rail. Whatever it is, the sensation is addictive and part of me knows that it will be hard to return to the more controlled, wavegripping suction of a thruster. The twin fin has opened up another dimension and if not ridden exclusively it will at least become a regular part of my surfing ritual.
The surfers eventually wake up, squint towards the lineup and realise there’s waves. Despite nursing hangovers, made more severe by a memory-taxing, drinking game introduced by Matt Meola, they quickly find the zone on the long-armed, right bends. It takes more than a few Margaritas to stifle that kind of surfing talent and pretty soon the crew are in attack mode.
Content with my morning haul, I kick back to watch the last show of the trip from the tender. As Tyler squares up and slashes at the coping on his coral-blue bullet, Robbie snaps violently in the pocket and Asher melts through a carve that would be the envy of any competing pro, it occurs to me that perhaps I had come on this trip to peer into surfing’s past. However, instead I’d discovered that the twin fin was not some revived relic from a bygone era; its development and the refinement of the way it is surfed has never really stopped. Its evolution exists in a parallel universe to the thruster, occasionally dropping in and overlapping to borrow a few design concepts from the design, which had made it go out of fashion. The twin fin is neither superior nor inferior to other craft; it’s just a totally different trip that many surfers and shapers have been enjoying for more than half a century. There is however no doubt that the twinny is in the midst of a renaissance. Absorbing modern refinements in curve, materials and construction, the boards are better than they’ve ever been, and there are shapers in every surf town producing high quality interpretations of the twin fin design.
Ultimately, it is only clichéd notions, thruster preoccupations and a little impatience, which stand in the way of appreciating the two-finned glide. If you are open to it, the twinny has the potential to transport you back to the pure sense of Zen and freedom you felt when you first witnessed a surfer flying across a wave and thought, “Wow that looks like fun.”
A big thank-you to Louis and the crew from Liquid Destination for delivering us to dreamy set-ups, empty line-ups and good fishing spots.