Residing up the magical little path up from Rincon, Ells, his bride, and his new daughter sit atop the Casitas Pass with 360-degree views of empty, old California. In a humble little abode, the Ells family is committed to simplicity and the living dream of family first, thus leaving the material life somewhere down the line of caring. The Fun Zone surfboard model, like the Ells family, is free and easy in its calm-yet-determined path to jive smoothly and passionately against the grains of the common.
I wanted to make a board that when you saw it, you thought, “Eh, that looks fun!” If you thought that, then a big part of just getting your head wrapped around the board was done, and you would likely have a good session on it. I have been shaping hulls, fishes, mid-lengths, your odd shortboard, and weird stuff for awhile, and wanted to make a super-approachable surfboard. Not a shortboard, because most of the time that’s just not the right board. The mid-length is the underrepresented size, really unfamiliar to most people, and is the funnest thing in the water most days. I wanted a board that a beginner could jump on and have fun because of the length and volume, but also be the board that an experienced surfer would gravitate towards when looking for those super special lines and sensations that mid-lengths bring, which can still be real performers in good surf. So, the Fun Zone was manifested. It combined myriad characteristics of the boards I had been working on over the years, and all the intentions detailed above.
I usually make this board between 6’7” and 7’10”, 20” to 21” wide, and around 3” thick. The board is foiled in a way that you wouldn’t know it had that much volume. Holding it in your arms it has an agile feel to it: a foiled thin nose and tail, with a rail that is pulled thin, somewhat down from the deck, but not pinched—an easy, flowing rocker on the flatter end of the spectrum, providing for maximum trim. She’s also got belly for transcendent style-surfing, good feel and flow. I run different bottom contours out the tail depending on the surfer and tail shape. When shaped shorter, running side fins and a smaller center fin adds tons of drive and makes for a really zippy, rip-able board. When longer, running as a single fin, you access super-trimming sensations and high vibes. Always hand-shaped.
With experimentation in mind, I rode this board with eight different single fins. I hit the jackpot once I took a chance with the huge 9” Greenough Stage 6 hatchet-looking fin. Because the fin is so narrow at the base, you can fade your entry and easily scoop back into the pocket. Moreover, the hatchet square at the tip of the fin, combined with the flex in the middle, is like a boomerang paddle blasting the rider out of a cannon. During bottom turns and roundhouse wrap-arounds, the fin in conjunction with the thin rail line, mid-weight and length, and flip of tail rocker had the Fun Zone whipping around, up and down, like a 6’3” shortboard, yet with the glide and flow of a smooth 7’0” single-fin. Each wave is a ride through the generations: old mid-weight single-fin surfing and new-school roundhouse cutbacks. I had multiple friends ride the board and the commonality of each ride was a giggly smile whether they were cresting a high-line runner without a single turn, or carving this board in the pocket, life slowed down, cares washed away, and a free, hippy, hue of light permeated their persona.
What is the difference between the re.Bowls and v.Bowls from Ryan Lovelace? A lot of people have been inspired by the v.Bowls that Lovelace and a crew of Rincon groove-stylists have ridden with generation- transcending style for the last seven years. But with the creation of the re.Bowls a number of questions arise: What’s the difference between the two designs? Which one do I want first? And would I want both in my single-fin quiver?
The Trimcraft brand/project is one that keeps 100% hand shaping alive. The brand features both new and old designs, and is a sort of mentorship to some of the best local up-and-coming hand shapers. The re.Bowls is a Trimcraft model that stems from its predecessor, the v.Bowls, but better suited to a wider variety of waves and surfers. Where the v.Bowls demands a lot of your attention and has a steeper learning curve (“It’s easy to surf, but hard to surf well,” is my favorite quote from a friend), the re.Bowls has a little more rocker in the front half, more down rails for planing speed on less pockety waves, and a flatter deck line that still allows for smooth rail to rail transitions, but is a bit less hypersensitive. The idea was to pass this design to the Trimcraft guys in hopes of providing something technical for them to shape and extremely approachable and applicable to surf in a range of waves while keeping a lot of the bones of the original v.Bowls intact.
re.Bowls With the re.Bowls, you can increase your soul surfing style points 1000 percent from the first wave you catch. It surfs nothing like a short-board, fun-board, long-board, or fish; however, the bottom contours are more normalized to what you’re used to riding, which is a single to double concave with V. Though the board will make you groove, which is the epic reason you got it, pushing down through bottom turns and cutbacks feels more like something you’ve felt before. The beauty of the re.Bowls is that you can ride it easily from the first wave on, and as you learn how to lean and groove in your rail-to-rail transitions you can learn the art of single-fin style at your own pace.
v.Bowls The v.Bowls, on the other hand, is not a board that is going to be pushed around—it is what it is, not what you want it to be. This is where the beauty lies. Lovelace, smiling from ear to ear on his v.Bowls, recently said to me “I’m in no hurry to get anywhere fast.” He was in the perfect Zen trim, just letting life happen— no trying, just feeling and flow. “If I had to sum it up,” Lovelace says, “I would say the re.Bowls is going to be a better board for all around surfing. Slightly more conventional the re.Bowls lends itself well to a really wide audience of surfers. It also allows for very smooth stylish surfing in a diverse range of subpar to very good wave conditions. Conversely, the v.Bowls is more difficult to master in your first few sessions but holds an extremely unique mind-opening ability in the long run, which is why it’s developed such a cult following. Hopefully they are a gateway into each other, as any good pairing is.”
Shawn Tracht is a positive energy ion constantly creating and igniting stoke. By day, a school teacher, by afternoon, an amped surfer, and by mid-evening and night a loving dad, coach, and husband. His passion in the surf industry is diagnosing the idiosyncrasies of surfboard design.