A conversation about asymmetrical surfboards.
I've been working with Roger Healy over the last few years to develop and understand the designs that make asymmetrical surfboards tick. We have tried short and long, twisted rockers and concave, staggerd fin clusters, reinforced composites, and so much more to make diligent progress in designing boards that help their riders perform at the top of their ability.
Here's a conversation he and I had recently at his home in central Long Island, NY:
Haze. So the asymmetrical surfboards that we’ve been working on together have completely changed my surfing. I feel like my style is cleaner and I can approach critical sections with ease, and I generally have more fun all around. I’d love to start by hearing your experiences.
RH. I agree one hundred percent… It’s hard to explain how you can go from struggling with something for so long and then get a board that immediately changes the way you surf. A board that turns how you would never be able to on the boards I’d typically be riding for certain situations and waves. I mean, I’m doing things that at once I thought were impossible, but now I don’t even think twice about; it just comes natural. These boards make it so you don’t really think about your surfing, you just do it and the board is there for you. It’s almost hard to explain. It really is something that will expand your whole vision on surfing it changes the way that you think and approach everything.
That’s another thing that I’ve learned. Approaching maneuvers and sections on the wave has changed so much for me. In places where other boards would leave me working hard to generate speed, the asymmetrical board just shows up when I need it to, and I can do things even without the speed I thought I once needed. I don’t even need that speed. Then when I do need speed, to make a deeper approach, or beat a section, the board is right there for me. I don’t feel like I’m stumbling or getting tripped up on the easy stuff. On some of my other boards, that wouldn’t have happened, I just wouldn’t have been able to do that.
Haze. I feel like with asymmetricals, you end up surfing the way you envision yourself surfing, which is just bizarre. You can visualize yourself doing exactly what you end up doing, and based on past board design it can be seem so foreign to have that happen.
RH. Yeah, because it just comes easy. Where before when you would go to make a turn and it would be choppy, now it’s not a struggle. Ultimately, the turns I was trying to make weren’t meeting my expectations of what I wanted to see in my surfing. Now with the asymmetrical designs we’ve been working on, I’ll come up from the bottom and make a perfect “U” shaped arc, bounce off the whitewash, and then find myself right back in the pocket setting up for whatever I plan to do next. On other boards I can’t do that, I really cant. That’s the truth… and if I can it’s not nearly as fluid, or the way I want to do it … definitely not on any of the other boards I’ve ridden in the past 15+ years. That is one hundred percent fact.
Haze. Do you get any weird looks when you’re walking with these boards on the beach in NY?
RH. Not weird looks… To be honest, I get more curiosity. People will be like “oh my god, what the hell happened, did he forget to finish the board?” Things like that. But then they start to look at it and they’re very intrigued, so they start asking a million questions. Then they see you catch a couple waves on it, and they go “well it actually works”! For whatever reason, I’m doing what I’ve never been able to out there on it, so it’s very hard to explain… I’m trying to put is all in a nutshell… It’s really just a game changer. It’s what I’ve been missing in my surfing, for as long as I’ve been surfing. That really is what it comes down to for me.
Every time I go out, I learn something new. Something that I once wished I could do just seems to happen now. I don’t even expect it to, and then I’m just like “WOW, this is how I want to surf!” This is what I’ve always wanted to do out here, but I’ve never been able to find a board that allowed me to surf like that… and now I have three of them… and that’s the worst part! Now I have to figure out which one to ride. So it’s like oh great, now what!? We have to make more!!
You know, people just have to get over the look of these boards. To me, if you really think about it, it makes perfect sense. We are not symmetrical when we stand up, why should my surfboard be? When I lean on my heel, it’s not the same type of power and balance I have when I lean on my toes. To me the board is more balanced.
This is the way I feel like surfing should be, whether it’s right or wrong, this is how a surfboard should be made; it only makes sense to me. I understand that it’s not aesthetically pleasing to most people when they look at it, but to me these boards are beautiful, they are art. That’s what surfing is though, its art. If you’re in it for something else, I don’t know what you’re doing. Surfing to me is total expression of what you want to do and just going out there and having fun. Your surfboard should show that, and these boards do that. These boards just do.
Roger has a deep background in anything mechanical. You need your engine fixed? Ask Roger. You need your house lifted? Yep, ask Roger. He is also a highly skilled sailor and boater who spends most of his free time clamming, fishing, or surfing off of one of his several bay boats. He has developed a unique lifestyle with the freedom to dig deep into his passions.