8'2" Christian Beamish Swallow Tail Twin Fin
Shaper FAQ's with Christian Beamish:
Where are you shaping and surfing?
My wife and our eight-year-old daughter, four-year-old son and I live in a farm house on an avocado ranch at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains in Carpinteria, California. It’s kind of crazy how beautiful it all is, especially with Natsha’s gardens (Sweet Smiling Landscapes is her company). There’s an outbuilding and I put in a floor, lights, and shaping stands and have a nice, clean 10’ x 16’ bay right at home. It’s my happy place. Most of my surfing is at Rincon (when it’s happening) about 10 minuets away, and little beach break sessions out front. I’ll bomb it up the coast to some deep-water reefs on occasion too. I’m ambivalent about international air travel, but every couple of years I make a mission somewhere like Hawaii or Central America. We want to show our children the world too. It’s hard to make these choices—staying home versus expanding our children’s knowledge of the wider world.
What year did you start shaping?
1995, after I had been in Santa Cruz for a couple of years, starting college. I needed a new board and wasn’t feeling the “elf-shoe” direction of the shortboards of the time, so I made a Dave Parmenter-esque, wide-nosed, square-tailed Thruster in his “Stub Vector” mode. After, I went on a Single Fin kick for a few years, till Richard Kenvin got me and the rest of the surfing world looking forward by going back to Simmons.
What are you currently riding?
Pretty much Twin Fins exclusively. Not Fish—they’re different designs entirely. Twin Fins have a beautiful, driving quality with a glide component as well, since with no middle fin the water just flows out the tail. There’s less need to wiggle to make ‘em go. The Thruster (though clearly a great surfing design) needs continual pumping that gets tiresome. I also love single fin gliders 10’0” and up. But to answer the question, I am riding the boards I shape: a 6’2” wing-swallow “MR-style” Twin Fin, and an 8’2” four-channel pintail Twin in the Morning of the Earth Surfboards/Torryn Martin way, which feels like a mid-length single with a good bit more zip and zing through the turns.
What trends have you noticed in board design recently?
The round pin four-channel Twin is really interesting to me—seems we should have been riding these all along, and I tip my hat to Simon Jones (the Australian shaper behind Morning of the Earth Surfboards) for his intuitive leap. In the same way that the Thruster is just a single fin “divided by 3,” I think of Twin Fins as merely two Single Fins laid side-by side—the smaller fins out by the rails make for better turning—but a surfer is essentially on a Single Fin at the apex of a critical turn. I also see clean looking boards (round-pin Twins) from Inigo Idigoras of Ilusion Surfboards in Spain. But speaking of Simon Jones and intuitive leaps, independently of me, he recently made a 10’0” keel fin gun that looks a lot like the 9’6” keel fin gun I made to surf Mavericks in 2009-10—both of these boards have the lines of the “pioneer generation” of North Shore surfers. The Pat Curren/George Downing school, wide-point forward, tapering rail lines that speak to me of first the Hot Curls and early Makaha, then Waimea Bay exploits. The high line across the bowl on a 25-foot wave, to me, is the pinnacle of high-performance big wave surfing, and it was laid down in 1957. (Even if the Jaws barrel rides going down are the gnarliest things I’ve ever seen.)
What’s your shaping philosophy?
I make boards with glide and flow, and that includes good paddling characteristics. Thickness is an oft-overlooked aspect to good board design, but thickness has to have good foil—a blunt instrument will not resonate.
Who is your biggest shaping influence?
It’s a long line, but moves from George Downing to Bob Simmons to Pat Curren, Brewer to Diffenderfer, to the top Aussie shapers of the late 70s-early 80s (especially Col Smith and Allen Byrne—NZ originally). And, from my hometown growing up in Newport Beach, CA, Greg Pautsch of McCoy surfboards. His boards were so clean, and functional.
I am also hugely influenced by the shapers who designed the blanks I use from U.S. Blanks:
Pat Rawson for his 6'2"A (for the Twins) and 9'3"A (for the 9'1" glider-gun) ; Rich Pavel for his 5'10"RP (for the shorter Twins); Rusty for the 6'5"R (for the 6'4" round pins); and Eric Arakawa for the 7'6"EA and 8'6"EA (for 7'4" and 8'2" Round pin channel-bottom Twins).
What do you consider to be your expertise?
Flowing vee into the Twin designs, and clean plan shapes from 5’8” to 12’0”. Specific boards:
5’8” to 6’2” wing swallow Twin Fins, 6’4” to 8’2” round-pin channel-bottom Twin Fins, and glider-guns 9’1” to 12’0” (the 9’1”s in a Twin Fin set up, others run with Singles).