THE REEF SWALLOW
The swallow tail the last 15 years has been relegated in most minds as a tail for a wide short fish designs only. The Pro Tour’s taste for rounded squares in small waves and rounded pintails in bigger waves has blindsided the public’s perception of the great functions of the swallow tail, to the point where except in fish designs, they are almost extinct in mid range and semi guns entirely.
Perhaps the reasons for the Tour to abandon the swallow early in the peace was that most contests back then were in shitty waves in which swallow tails feel too positive and stiff, whereas the rounded square was the perfect compromise for these waves and to this day the marketing power of the tail of choice of the Pros has ruled supreme. It is true that swallow tails work well in tiny waves if they are very wide hence the fish tail: and this is primarily because there are no alternative tails that will not spin out at these widths. The unique properties of two pins on either rail and the decrease in surface area (via the cut out swallow) allows the fins to hold in better under such wider tails. The same goes for guns, semi guns or even tow boards that are travelling at very high speeds ; the clawing effect of the two pins and surface area relief of the cut out allow the board to be laid over at Mac speed without it spinning out .
The straightness of the planshape the last 12 inches as opposed to the rounded pins is why a swallow is deemed stiffer off the top than a rounded pin. My argument is that if a surfer is talented enough to lay the bottom turn at the top of his speed at the bottom of the wave, he will come off that bottom very fast and consequently hit the top with more speed than normal, in turn affording him any move off the top he wants because speed allows one to defy gravity.
For all these reasons I believe in particular that the semi guns we build for Indo would be better served with swallow tails than rounded pins. Compared to Hawaii the walls in Indo are much cleaner and longer so reach is important and that is something that a swallow has in bucket loads. In addition that straighter plan in the last 12 inches referred to above also helps the board hug the face in hollow situations and takes the pressure off the fins which makes for deep barrels which is what Indo is famous for. By adding a little more tail flip a swallow through bottom rocker can be made as loose as a rounded pin off the top.
The reef swallow is a refinement of 35 years of R+D in Indonesian waves from one end of the archipelago to the other. From my own experience I feel the swallow has so many advantages over the pin particularly in Indo so I have gone all out to convince the market out there they should be tried. Many surfers are fearful of the swallow being damaged so I have gone overboard by including carbon in the swallow tips to give it more strength. The rocker is low entry with more tail rocker than normal. The rail volume is a little more generous than my early models which add drive with some meat to push off rather than a rail that buries too easily.
The single concave runs through into a slight double through the fins into a flat behind the rear fin so there is a lot of lift and squirt going on. The swallow is pulled in so that it can hack off the top and bottom and be turned on impulse at very high speeds. The diagonal glass is standard with the Reef Swallow as it is with the Indo Gun model.
2015 REEF SWALLOW UPDATE
The Reef Swallow has been a stayer in my serious wave selection and this year I have modified it a tad. The nose and tail are a little wider to keep with the trend, but not to the point where it slides in serious situations.
In the plan shape I have made more a consistent curve through the back half rather than the subtle hip. This will add to the drive. I have also added a little release tail vee out the last 6” just to help hold down that slightly wider pod.
The dimensions have been also tweaked and I have added different lengths to the range.
The Glassing of all my step- ups is now a compulsory double diagonal with the added option of a grunty 4 ply stringer or a carbon strip on the deck. These boards will return from OS in board bags – not a body bag!
6.2 X 18 ½ X 2 3/8 = 27.49 LTS
6.4 X 18 5/8 X 2 7/16 = 32.91 LTS
6.6 X 18 ¾ X 2 ½ = 30.79 LTS
6.8 X 18 7/8 X 2 9/16 = 32.67 LTS
6.10 X 19 X 2 5/8 = 34.69 LTS
7.0 X 19 1/8 X 2 11/16 = 36.55 LTS
Thought I’d drop you a line from Indo, I bought the 6’7?reef swallow with red rails, remember me, Ewen from Melbourne. Took it out at Ulu’s in decent size waves the other day for my first real surf on it. Well what a fucken beauty! That board sticks to the face like glue on the late drops and has fantastic control at speed. Thanks heaps Murray, I’m stoked, got heaps of waves on that session and the board performed 100% and that was just the first session with me getting in tune with it. Can only get even better! Stoked!
I gave my new 6’10” reef swallow a run in head high surf on the Island before my Indo trip just to get an early feel. Couldn’t believe how easy it was to drive off the bottom and turn tight in the pocket. I was overgunned for the conditions but the reef swallow was amazing. I will have to get a smaller version to take to Indo with me as well.
Amongst my quiver to my first of two Mentawai trips this year were two Reef swallows. The 6’5’’ became my board of choice. Awesome speed down the line but the pulled in swallow and extra tail lift really stuck the late Indo drops. Muzz and I had a chat about that success but also about the sorts of waves everyone was everyone was starting to surf now, those late heavy barrelling takeoffs. You need paddle power but if you go with extra length it means you tend to miss the barrel. I surf a wave at home which presents the same problem. Now I am no gun but I do like a late drop and a tube. After some R&D with Muzz we came up with a shortened up model based on the reef swallow and called it the Ledge Tamer. I gave it a run and my second Mentawai trip and bugger me if it didn’t do all the things we planned for, great paddle power for late drops and stuck in the tube. Muzz included a five fin setup and I am still deciding which I prefer best but that versatility certainly increased the types of waves I could surf it in. As a three fin setup it works really well in the ledge I surf here in Victoria. As I said I certainly ain’t no gun and I am closer to the finish line than the start but I can throw my bag of bones over the edge on the 6’2’’ version and still get kegged. My Ledge Tamer will certainly be in the board bag for Sumba next week and West Papua next month.
First up….. Your a legend, that 6’4 reef swallow you made me went unreal, in Indo i surfed 6ft Deserts, 6ft Mawi, and recently back here in SA surfed a solid 5-6ft Bullies(with pics)if you want to see them. Absolutely stoked mate!