Tomorrow, the Mavericks Invitational fires up in Half Moon Bay, California. And because we live in the future (Skype! Camera iPhones! An ever-expanding worldwide connection!), we have the privilege of watching a very dangerous but thrilling act, being big wave surfing, with the knowledge that the men doing it are as safe as possible. Mostly thanks to jetskis, inflatable vests and educated water patrol. We can also be pleased with the knowledge that we're watching these men surf on the best possible equipment. Boards that allow them to push, and push, and redefine what we all think is normal. In the pursuit of avalanches such as Mavs, unpredictable variables should be minimised. Riding a board that you're confident in is the first step.
Nathan Fletcher is a competitor in tomorrow's event, a surfer who's heat webcast is worthy of your attention, if solely for the fact that he is goofy and Mavs is mostly a right. He will ride his signature dragon slayer, called the Fletcher Monster Gun and made by Stretch surfboards. It's a good example of the more progressive crafts that'll be in the lineup, so we figured it'd be a good one to put under the magnifying glass. Familiarise yourself, then wow your friends with fun facts during the webcast. Nathan will be on a 12 foot Stretch tomorrow. That's twice as big as average shortboard size. So the term 'step-up' doesn't even cut it. It's not a steak knife. It's a machete.
Quads have, in recent years, proven to be the best way to find drive and speed – two things you most certainly want when trying to outrun a demolished building of whitewash. So, unsurprisingly, most competitors will be running four fins in the lineup. The biggest ones they can get, too: Like, 4" long. Nat prefers fibreglass, if you're wondering.
The Fletcher Monster Gun has the option of a weighting system, which you can bet Nate will be running. They're calculated based on rider (elite big wave surfer), wave type (crushing San-Franciscan bombs), and board design (12 foot machete). They can be added to any gun in half-pound increments up to five pounds. And, what's the purpose? "Strategically weighting a board repositions the center of gravity for enhanced response and control," says Stretch. Makes sense.
So, a few more little snippets:
- The Fletcher gun has the wide point exact center with more volume pushed towards the nose.
- It's a relatively low entry rocker into a continuous curve with increased tail rocker gives the board easier paddling, control and mobility.
- The rails are relatively thin in conjunction with Stretch’s "Aztec Pyramid" deck profile. Thickness under your chest stays prominent with a flat deck out from the stringer before doming over. Rails retain thickness up into the nose and foil out to an ultra thin and sensitive tail.
- The bottom is a vee in the nose to flat then panel vee out the tail.
You might also notice that Nathan chooses a full deckgrip. Whether this is because he doesn't like wax, or more realistically because The Fletcher dynasty are creators of the world's best grip, Astrodeck, is unclear. It's an easy guess though, right?