Meet Dave Parmenter: Icons of Foam
The criteria for selecting contestants in the Icons of Foam is not precise. There is not a formula, nor a career checklist to follow that would qualify a person to be included. However, there are few people who better define the spirit of the Icons of Foam than Dave Parmenter.
A top-level professional surfer in the 80s (watch Dave compete in the semifinals of the OP Pro against Tom Curren here) and articulate writer of more than 50 articles published in various surf magazines, Parmenter has always advocated for quality over immediacy. This sentiment is a thread through much of Parmenter’s written work, but nowhere is it more clear than in his board building, under his Aleutian Juice label.
Here are a few word from Parmenter about the name, “Aleutian Juice”,
“That fearful and dark netherworld of the storm track along latitude 50 has always been a powerful totem for me, and thus from boyhood on I began adorning my first rustic surfboards with that emblem (Aleutian Juice), first with rudely stenciled pen and ink and then later with commercially printed laminants.”
“So, decade after decade I decided to stick with the name Aleutian Juice even though it would have been more trendy and profitable to go with ‘DP Designs’ or some other hairdresser type of moniker. But….I always figured that I sign each hand-shaped surfboard—–and I don’t need my name on a board beyond that.”
“‘Aleutian Juice’ reminds me of the mystery and spiritual awe that I used to feel as a boy contemplating the waking of the Aleutian Low each autumn, and the mystery and spiritual awe I felt peering into the secret and sacred shaping rooms where our high priests carved out the wonderful spears with which we would challenge those powerful swells.”
Writing and board building merge on Parmenter’s website, Nowtro.com, where we get an unfiltered glimpse into Parmenter’s work and philosophy. Previously only building boards for a tight network of referrals (he kept his phone number unlisted and has never advertised), Nowtro allows the general public access to Parmenter’s hand-shaped surfboards, and moreover, the Icons of Foam allows us all a rare opportunity to watch him work.
It should also be noted that our Icons of Foam honoree this year is Rusty Preisendorfer, a man with who Parmenter began working with (and surfing for) in 1983. At The Boardroom Show, Parmenter will be tasked with replicating Rusty’s famous ’84 Occy model, which is very similar to the boards Parmenter had his greatest competitive successes riding on the World Tour.
Parmenter posted this article on his blog in 2013, paying homage to Rusty, regarding his use of our 6’5” R blank.
“A ‘Desert Island’ Blank”
“The 65R polyurethane surfboard foam blank made by US Blanks has become my favorite blank of all time. For any shaper, backyarder or production, this has to be the most versatile blank on the market for a wide variety of boards in this size range. The mold plug was shaped by Rusty Preisendorfer a few years back, along with a shorter version, the 60R. Thankfully, Rusty avoided the issues (that I experienced, anyway) with a number of the plugs he designed for Clark Foam, in that the nose and tail volumes were just too thin to derive anything but wafer-tipped surfboards. With the 65R and 60R he has given us a stellar workhorse of a blank, with very balanced nose and tail thicknesses that obtain a lot of stored energy coupled with the natural rocker that I recognize from having ridden his mid-1980s tri-fins as a competing professional on the ASP circuit.”
“The trend toward more and more retro-based designs demanded a blank like this, and the 65R in particular nails all the right numbers. On a recent shaping junket to my hometown of San Luis Obispo on California’s central coast, my foam order with US Blanks was 80% 65Rs. By ordering the 65R with three different bottom rockers, I was able to shape every type of surfboard a customer threw at me, from thicker vintage-style single fins to super-thin Micro-Stubbys to mid`80s Occy type tri-fins to contemporary high-performance modules….all using one blank.”
“What has really made these blanks come to life is US Blanks’ New Red pour, a formula they came up with a few years ago that more or less replaces the Superlight pour we used to get from Clark Foam. This formula and density has been a real game-changer, in my opinion. I use about 98% US Blanks foam, and order the New Red exclusively. It shapes and rides better, I believe, than the baseline Blue pour they offer, and though on paper it doesn’t appear possible, I’d swear that the New Red is stronger than the supposedly denser and tougher Blue. You can feel the difference in shaping the New Red—–it feels less brittle and powdery, and has a texture and takes the tool like one of the better lightweight Australian foams.”
“As a shaper who has made a lot of vintage–component single-fins and Widowmakers over the last 25 years, I can’t tell you what a relief it is to be able to net a nose thickness with more volume than the tail. By judicious placement of a shorter planshape on the 65R, it is also possible to shape a super thin (sub 2.25”) design while still keeping an even foil through the tips.”
“With an assortment of bottom rockers the 65R is the only blank you’d need if you were stranded on that proverbial desert island. …Oh, and you’d need your solar-powered Skil 100 to wash ashore with you I suppose.”
To learn more about Dave Parmenter and see his work, visit nowtro.com
Also be sure to follow him @AleutianJuice