WORDS BY SHAWN TRACT
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.
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.