Design Focus: Healey’s Puerto Paddle Gun
“Believe or not, the board survived the session! But, Mark did break it the next day, Monday. He had it repaired in Puerto and said it will become a wall hanger.” Ron Meeks on Mark Healey’s record setting 9’8” Gun.
The surf world was stunned on May 3rd when a massive swell collided with the Oaxaca beach break known as The Mexican Pipeline, aka Puerto Escondido. The beachside town was flooded and only a few madmen paddled out to attempt the surf the maxing waves. Even very seasoned big-wave chargers like Reef MacIntosh opted to not paddle out.
“Success” on days like this is defined as simply surviving. Making a barrel is simply not an option. Making a wave, a rarity. And making a drop, unlikely. There were a few valiant efforts through the largest day of the swell, and one such effort is being deemed the largest wave ever paddled into.
Ron Meeks, “Mark just requested a 9’8” that could potentially be ridden anywhere; Jaws, Mavericks, Puerto, where ever. He travels quite a bit, so his Guns need to be pretty versatile. I shaped the board from the 10’6” A Green density with 1/2” Bass stringer.”
“That board is 9’8” x 20 1/2” x 3 7/16”. The outline has a bit more width from the wide point forward. The nose is 11 3/4’’. The wide point is 3 1/2” ahead of center and the tail is 10 3/4’’. Practically every board I shape gets it’s own half template. I’m still hand shaping every board, and I spend a lot of time making templates. Also, I pay close attention to the finished weight on Guns. A little extra weight can be beneficial in dealing with surface texture and offshore winds.”
“I base all the bottom contours on Guns around dead center and the approximate spot where the riders center of mass will be. This particular board (starting at the tip of the nose) had panel vee that transitions into slightly rolled vee. The rolled vee carries to just behind dead center. Then there is a small flat spot, both in the rocker and across. The flat transitions into panel vee and the panel vee transitions into slight rolled vee off the tail. There is a very slight double concave set into the panel vee and rolled vee. It fades out before the tip of the tail. All these contours are very subtle. All the transitions are very smooth. I tend to shape guns that are not super foiled out. The thickness carries out to the ends just a bit more. I don’t blade out the tails, either, they have a bit of volume to them comparatively speaking.”
“Mark was very enthusiastic about the board. He felt very confident that he ‘could catch anything’ on it. He also said it was very responsive and that it’s very difficult to find those two qualities in a Gun. Typically it is one or the other. I made Mark a 10’2” that he rode at Jaws (see photos above) this past winter that he is very stoked on too. I’ve only been making boards for Healey for a couple of years, but he’s had a lot of really positive things to say about them. There’s a pretty good clip (see below) of Mark and Mike Ho sharing a barrel at Pipe this past winter on a 6’10” I made for him.”
“Meeks Surfboards is small company on Oahu. I am still hand shaping every board. I suppose one of the hallmarks is I can shape boards that work in everything from knee high slop to 40 ft. bombs. I was fortunate enough to meet Dave Wassel a few years ago, and Dave was kind enough to open a lot of doors for me. It was through Dave that I met Healey and started making boards for Kai Henry and Tai Vandyke, J.D. Irons and quite a few other guys at Pipe. The boards are proven in a wide variety of conditions. I don’t churn out huge quantities of boards, I really focus on making them symmetrical and clean. I am basically self taught, never did an under study or apprenticeship anywhere. My high performance short boards tend to have lower tail rockers, pretty healthy concave, and slightly more volume in the rails.”
“I really love what I do, and consider it a blessing to live in Hawaii. I am always looking for opportunities to expand into other markets, too.”
Ron secures our blanks through Fiberglass Hawaii.