Interview with Robert Moynier

Robert Moynier

Great interview about Paipo riding and Campbell Brothers’ Bonzers over at mypaipoboards.org.

From Curl Curl to Cambria
Robert Moynier Interview
July 5 2010, Cambria, California
Interview by Bob Green.

For the complete interview go mypaipoboards.org. There’s plenty of other good stuff there, also. Excerpt after the jump

Between the early- to late-Sixties, were you seeing any bellyboarders about?

Actually I did, and the reason for that was my family moved down to the Newport Beach/Orange County area and I ended up surfing Newport/Huntington beach heavily between 1966 through the summer of 1970. If there was ever anything resembling a center of paipo/bellyboarding culture in the continental U.S. it was probably that area. The most important functional reason for this was the existence of the “black ball” surf access restrictions that took place every summer in Newport and Huntington. What this meant was whenever the black ball flags were up, usually from 9am to 5pm, June through September, nobody could be out in the water riding anything longer than 5-foot, or you’d get called in, cited, and charged with a hefty little fine. Basically they were trying to make the beach and ocean tourist friendly and reduce collisions and injuries between the vacationers and out of control longboarders. Or perhaps it was the other way around. In any case, it worked pretty well and fortunately it had the unintended consequence of spawning a real area subculture and mini industry of paipo riders, mat surfers, bodysurfers, and even some kneeboarders. Both Newport and Huntington get pretty good during summer south and southwest swells, so with the seasonal elimination of the longboard, it was an ideal environment for the alternative surfcraft people to do their thing relatively hassle free and really hone their skills in some challenging, quality spots like the Wedge, Newport Point, and Huntington Pier. To take care of these surfers, you had a number of business, like Newport Paipo and Jack’s Surfboards, focusing in on making a fair amount of bellyboards and kneeboards, and other people working on improving swim fins, making hand boards, etc. So all the stuff that was otherwise taking place in isolated pockets up and down the coast was happening in this one, small, concentrated area.

You have posted on another blog about a paipo built by Gordon Thietz and ridden by Candy Calhoun. Can you tell me about your more recent experience riding prone? How did you get started riding prone again and what are you riding?

What got me into it was a flurry of injuries about 2 years ago involving Achilles tendons, sprained ankles, and a broken big toe. These kinds of things tend to put a damper on stand-up surfing, so it was natural to re-focus on riding prone in order to keep in the ocean as part of my rehab. I had never actually left that aspect of surfing, but it was something I only did maybe a half dozen times a year, on my stand-up board, usually in small, lined-up conditions. I always was stoked at the sensation of speed and immediacy to the wave and water, plus the fact that when prone, it’s always overhead! So recently I started surfing consistently prone due to physical factors, but as I healed up, I have not found myself necessarily craving a return to the stand-up experience. I’ve actually become more intrigued with the different aspects of trim, drift, body torque, speed, and wave “touch” that prone allows. I am riding my stand-up boards doing this, on 7’8”, 8’0″ and 9’0′ boards, all Bonzers.

Bonzers: … by late 1970, I was riding a 5’6″ Newport Paipo “Shoe,” a dished out, very hard railed and very fast stand-up/kneeboard combo. From there Walden Surfboards made me a 5-foot dished-out deck, soft-railed board that was brilliant in most surf up to about 6 foot. That was a board I kept and rode until the late-1970s. Around 1972, I met the Campbell Brothers in Oxnard, and glassed in some “Bonzer” runners on the thing, and it rode even better! Duncan still has some footage of me on it from 1972, somewhere in the archives. In all of this what was happening, at least for me, was trying to find that combination of length, template, and volume that would allow a stand-up surfer to draw those kneeboard lines. Looking for that nexus between the paipo/kneeboard experience and a functional stand-up surfboard, I found that was possible utilizing the Bonzer bottom and fin configurations, and for the most part, have been riding Campbell Bros. Bonzers in a variety of lengths and templates ever since.

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