I know noth­ing about twin fins

Tracks - - Fresh Fish -

He even­tu­ally se­lects the small­est board in his quiver for his maiden surf. It’s “be­tween 4’3 and 4’6”,” he thinks. A tiny lit­tle cof­fee ta­ble slab of a thing with a big, wide square-tail and no rocker to speak of. “What fins should I ride Asher?” he asks Asher Pacey, with the def­er­ence of a dis­ci­ple con­sult­ing a guru. Asher, ropey-limbed and sun-kissed be­neath a sweep of sun-bleached blonde, has al­ready been roam­ing the Mal­di­vian atolls for three weeks, work­ing as a surf guide on the Liq­uid Des­ti­na­tions char­ter boat we are aboard. A cache of spon­sors sup­port his peri­patetic twin fin ex­is­tence and his eyes gleam with the con­tent­ment of one who has fig­ured out how to be a fish-rid­ing, surf­ing gypsy, while most of the west­ern world are still floun­der­ing be­tween nine and five. Asher is the veteran of mul­ti­ple Mal­di­vian so­journs and has many of the waves in the re­gion di­alled. As the crew pre­pare to make their first leap into the blue, he read­ily

dis­penses the nec­es­sary in­tel’ on the break. “This right has a re­ally fun wedge on the take off but not that much of a wall, so you kind of want to get your work done early.” Me­ola doesn’t waste time scratch­ing into a few trans­par­ent side-bends on his slab. Any doubts about his ca­pac­ity to carve on a twinny are soon dis­missed as he be­gins weav­ing all over the dreamy lit­tle rights like a kid whose been handed a new or­ange crayon to play with. “This board is sick,” he bel­lows as he re­turns to the lineup. “I wasn’t even sure it was go­ing to work.” Four waves in Me­ola can’t sup­press the aerial in­stincts and he’s al­ready try­ing to man­i­fest a back­side back-flip on his new craft. The right of­fers en­tic­ing lit­tle pock­ets, but the dreamy seren­ity of­fered by the translu­cent wa­ter is soon spoilt by a jet-ski driver who is tow­ing a be­gin­ner surfer across flat wa­ter just beyond the line-up. The prized twin fin glide is dis­rupted by the ribs of wa­ter wash­ing through from the jet-ski wash and it be­comes clear how easy it is for one in­con­sid­er­ate sea-jockey to ruin a ses­sion. A few heated words are ex­changed as the ski roars into the chan­nel, but by now the crew is fix­ated on a left in the dis­tance that coils and zip­pers with empty se­duc­tion. The ten­der is sum­moned and mo­ments later Matt, Chippa Wil­son, Rob­bie Rickard and Asher have laid claim to an empty, left line-up off a palm­fringed is­land. The left is a com­plete drag race – haul in, leap to your feet, knife a rail and hit the gas. Twin­nies are sup­posed to be fast and if any wave is go­ing to test that propo­si­tion im­me­di­ately, it’s this one. Surf­ing front-side, Me­ola and Chippa quickly find the full throt­tle, sweet spot for their rides. “They’re break­ing the sound bar­rier out here,” ex­claims the filmer, Tyson Lloyd, who is stand­ing in chest-deep wa­ter do­ing his ut­most to keep the surfers in frame as they blur past. “I can’t be­lieve how much speed Chippa gen­er­ates,” mar­vels Asher as he zones in on Chip’s mal­leable frame bend­ing and com­press­ing down the line. In the line-up pro surfers pay very close at­ten­tion to what their peers are do­ing. This kind of cross-ref­er­enc­ing

de­fines the pos­si­bil­i­ties of a given wave and ses­sion. Once a bench­mark is set no­body wants to look ob­so­lete when the footage and the pho­tos are re­viewed later. Freesurfers never have to win a heat, but that doesn’t mean they don’t com­pete. Chippa is rid­ing a Neal Pur­chase DUO, which fea­tures two big fins, placed four inches apart. Pad­dling over the shoul­der of a set wave, I watch him hook down the line, whip the board at the lip, and take flight at max­i­mum ve­loc­ity. The two large fins project beyond the lip, swing through the air like un­hooked talons, be­fore grip­ping the face again. What’s strik­ing to the on­looker is that he ex­its the weight­less move with as much, if not more, speed than he goes into it with. It’s not a big or tech­ni­cal punt by Chippa’s stan­dards but it’s a to­tally func­tional air, per­formed at max­i­mum ve­loc­ity, on a board in­spired by an era when that kind of ap­proach was surf­ing fic­tion. By the end of our first out­ing it’s clear that Matt and Chippa are in no way bound by some pre­con­ceived, clas­si­cal no­tion of how a twin fin should be surfed.

Chippa Wil­son jam­ming on the ‘Duo’ brakes at the end of the straight.

Photo: Bosko.

Tim Lau­rie is in his six­ties and do­ing this! Matt Me­ola set­ting the aerial prece­dent for our twin fin odyssey.

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