ORANGE COUNTY'S PASSION PUBLICATION

KAYSEN SURFBOARDS

California has every type of wave you could ask for within its 840 miles of coastline- big wave spots like Maverick’s, to long point breaks such as Rincon. Orange County has its own list of great waves. Trestles is considered one of the top 20 waves in the world, which is why we went to the boss 

Chris Kaysen, for this edition of Quiver Mentality, to shape us a master craft for the SoCal hotspot.

Trestles is not just one break, but rather, it’s broken up into 5 main breaks. From North to South they are: Cottons, Uppers, Lowers, Middles, and Churches. Each wave consists of cobble stone reef that collects just the right amount of sand when the river mouth breaks through, giving each wave a unique and special quality of its own.

We wanted to narrow our focus and get a board designed specifically for Upper Trestles. Uppers is mainly a long steep right with an occasional racy section. When there is just the right angle of south swell in the water, it’s known to break for 300 yards. It’s a beautiful sight. A surfer can lay down big turns or take to the air on any section of the wave. You can even score an occasional tube section. On some waves you can do it all! Yeah, we’ve seen it! Uppers can be packed or empty. San Clemente is known for being glassy and beautiful all day long. Be there at the right time and you can score. When getting a board shaped for one of the best waves in the world we couldn’t just go to any shaper, we wanted someone who has experience with the wave, surfing it and shaping boards for it. Chris Kaysen is that guy. 

Born and raised in Orange County, Chris started surfing at the young age of 10 years old. After graduating from Capistrano High School in 1982, he immediately started shaping surfboards. In ’87 he made San Clemente his permanent home. “There are only a few places on earth that can be called epicenters of surfboard design and I grew up in one of them, the ‘Surf Ghetto’ San Clemente, California.” Unlike most other shapers, Kaysen didn’t start as a shop grunt doing the dirty work. He perfected his craft on his own. He was born with a gift, the gift of creating incredible surfboards. He learned fast and quickly became one of the biggest shapers in Southern California, running his own brand Kaysen Surfboards ever since. For the past few years he has also been the lead shaper for one of the largest surfboard companies in the world. Kaysen has shaped over 100,000 surfboards, an estimated 35,000 by hand.

Over the past 30 years Kaysen has been obsessed with surfing, designing and shaping. It’s what has lead him to become the master shaper he is today. With today's demands for the Kaysen label, he mastered the art of CAD design software. The evolution of surfboard design and manufacturing continues and Kaysen will be leading the change. Kaysen saw the ability of CAD to become one of the best CAD programmers in the industry, and even helps other shapers across the globe with their CAD designs. Kaysen sees a CNC as just another tool in his repertoire. Just like a planer in the right hands, one can create masterpieces. Kaysen is one of the few shapers we know who has truly mastered all types of surfboard shaping.

As Kaysen puts it, “It’s all about form, flow and function, no matter the design.” Form is the specific model. Flow is the way the board transitions from the rocker to the rails to the concave. Function is how the rider wants the board to perform and what type of surf the board will be used in. “Without form, flow, and function you have nothing.” Chris wanted to create a new model for us and Uppers so he created the Secret Blend.

When dealing with Mother Nature, some days the waves at Trestles can be big and pumping and others it can be minimal to flat. We asked Kaysen to design the perfect board for Uppers on any give day for a surfer around 5’9” and weighing in at about 165 lbs. Our Secret Blend is 5’8 19.75”x 2.5” and shorter and wider than a traditional shortboard. There is low entry rocker to make sure we had paddle power and volume to help carry speed on big racy sections. The crowd can get hectic at times and with a wider, flatter nose you will be able to sit out back and get in the wave early. Fuller rails and a mixed concave give the rider a “dynamic” ride. With a rounded pintail you will feel the rails and the contours of the board and get a pivot point to turn on a dime.

Going with a 5 fin setup leaves the option of choosing the right fin setup for the right conditions. The right fin setup is just as important as having the right board. But choosing the right fins can be just as tough as choosing the right board. 

We went to Futures Fins and had them break it down for us. It’s all about the fin ride number. A low ride number gives speed control while high numbers are speed generating. Simply put, if you’re pumping on the waves you want a high number to help generate speed, and if the waves are pumping, you want a lower number to help control your speed. For our test rides, they gave us a few options to choose from, depending on wave conditions. 

In our first session we set the board up as a quad fin with the Generation series F6 5 fin fronts to provide all the speed, drive, and technical turning with the QD2 3.75 in the back to help us control speed and give us more stability in bigger surf. With the high ride number in the front and low in the back the board worked great in the big surf, great for making racy sections, with the stability to put the board on rail carrying lots of speed through the turns. After a few sessions with the board set as a quad, we switched to a Thruster setup with the JC1 BLACKSTIX 3.0 which was great for creating speed and top to bottom vertical turns. It’s great being able to switch out fins on the go and really feel the difference fins make.

PHOTOS: We set this board up as a quad fin with the F6 5 fin fronts to provide all the speed, drive, and vertical top to bottom turning and the QD2 3.75 in the back to help us control speed and give us more stability in bigger surf. We headed to Uppers for a test mission on our Secret Blend. 

A few of the boys were amped on getting their feet on the board so we decided to give them each 45 min on the board and told them that the best photo lands a spot in the mag. The conditions were perfect: 6-7ft occasional 8ft. It was going off and Uppers was lined up and running down into the bay. We saw a few rides over 250 yards. Everyone was ripping and the board performed perfectly. Sean Rios got the shot with this layback hack on a big beautiful open face.