Sunday, April 08, 2007

2007 Pismo Beach Longboard Contest

My friend Fletcher Burton told me of a longboard surf contest that was being held at the Pismo Beach Pier on April 7. He suggested that I enter. I was a bit apprehensive because my board was being repaired and not up to being ridden really and I havent surfed my longboard for 6 months because of my training for the 2007 Wildflower 1/2 Ironman contest.

After getting my half repaired board back from the repair guy, Pat Flecky (thanks
for hooking me up, Pat! Board looks better than it was!), I took it out for a surf on Friday. I own a Steward 9.0 high performance pro model. Older, but its an insane board. Narrow and very low volume. Because the board didnt have the side boxes back in yet, I was forced to ride it as a single fin...not what the board is designed for. It worked, but not as good as it usually does.

I said, what the heck, go for it. I am a bit rusty, but I think the contest will be good and it was just all about fun for me. Takes my mind and body away from the 50-70 miles I usually do on a Saturday! Plus, I miss surfing.

I show up on Saturday, 7 in the am (morning to you and I!), not knowing what to
expect. The Esteem tents were already up and I was greeted to many faces I had not seen in so long since I moved from Shell Beach to Los Osos about 3 years ago. I miss it! I will be back...

Everyone was so positive and the vibe was exciting. Not too many people, but my
age group of 30-40 was the biggest group, so it was going to be interesting making it to the next round. Optimistic, I wait for the first heat at 8:34 am. I was in the third and final heat of the first round.

Paddling out, with a red jersey on, I didnt know what to expect. Waves were a bit junky and closed out. The horn, I guess, sounded and the green flag went up! So, off we went to catch 2 waves in 15 min. and to decide who would get to the final. I caught 2 really awesome lefts into the pier! A bit of a good bottom turn, but my board really wasnt working too well. I took a couple of bigger waves (5-6 foot) that just closed out! Fun stuff.

I was surprised to make it to the next and final round. My final didnt go so well. The waves in the mens 30-40 age group final were crap and junky. Hardly any shoulders to speak of and my board was not really cutting it for me. Out of 6 of us in the final, I wouldnt be surprised if I got 6th! I got skunked. But, overall, it was fun. I had a great time meeting some new faces and reaquainting with some old ones! And had a great time watching the real rippers in the 20-30 age group. Some awesome rides! Makes me want to be done with training and get back on the board!

Thanks Fletcher for inviting me and congrats to your mom, Joni Anderson for ripping and getting second place. Great hangin' ten, well, five with ya!

Until the next contest or surf or whatever, Vince
signing out!

Saturday, March 31, 2007

The NEW Flex Fins for Kayaks.

Right before the 2007 Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Comp, I was approached by Demany Smith about the fins I had been working on (Thanks to Rod Michael) with Chuck Ames from TrueAmes. I told him that the project was seemingly put on hold by TrueAmes for they didnt see a real market for the fins. Chuch Ames and I had spoke extensively about the idea behind flex fins and the limitations with surf kayaks as it relates to the dynamics of fins, and he thought it was right on.

This is not a new concept, by any stretch. Its been around forever. If you look at
surfboard fins, there is a degree of 'flex', but not with the typical fins we were using for the surf kayaks. Why not use what they were doing with shortboards, and do a 'hybrid-crossover' (I like to call it that...) to a modern surf kayak.

I have been usi
ng the Christo fin I got awhile back, and although I truly believe that there is way too much flex in them, and they are too thick (causing drag, which doesnt really allow for larger fins. We are always definning surf kayaks...) they work relatively well. Alot of people dont like them, but, like I say, you have 'think ahead' when using them. The forces put on the fin in an aggressive bottom turn or manuerver is extreme, so what happens with a flex fin that 'flexes' too much is that you get an unpredicatable spring 'back' action. Which is not a 'natural' feel.

When I told Rod Michael at his now famous Pitas Waveski Expression Session about a year and half ago, he said he could help get my ideas into production. He was the one that so graciously took my fins and my ideas to Chuck Ames. Chuck took the Christo Fin, but modified the foils, etc, and made a typically standard fin that you would buy from TrueAmes (which alot of are using) but way thinner, with a predicatable degree of flex. I used these fins as well as Fletcher Burton and felt the difference right away. I knew that we were on to an improvement.

So, now the present. Like I said, I was asked by Demany Smith about the flex fins. I said 'no real plans' for I had no other options. Or, so I thought! He has a great
relationship with Rainbow Fins and said he will speak with them about talking with me about the ideas and maybe they would produce them. In SC 2007 I met with Shawd of Rainbow. He initially didnt understand what I was saying...its hard to translate the ideas to someone with no surf kayak experience (but, of course, Rainbow makes a very nice product and they have a multitude of experience) and without actually showing a model of what I was talking about. I took Shawd to my truck, where I had a model of the fin Chuck Ames made for the project. Shawd immediately exclaimed, 'I know now exactly what you are talking about, I will make you 2 sets and have them to you in 2 weeks.'

Sure enough, today, I got 2 sets of the new fins. One of the problems, also, with most of the stock fins is that there is no degree of outer angle. The fin itself just masks the fin insert for the box. Shawd told me he would fix that. The
typical fin degree on a surfboard is 8 degrees, he said, no problem. They can do it.

This is so important because in the new style of surf kayaks the bottom designs, from hip back to tail, is totally flat. When I started putting fins in the Johnson style boats, I installed the boxes flush with the chine, which acts as the outer angles. But, now, the new school kayaks dont have that chine to work with any longer. It was always a big concern. But no more! The outer fins, left and right, have 8 degrees, of outer angle. This aids in an agressive turn and more agressive, snappy turning radii.

I have to say. I am not a hydrodymic professional nor an expert in how fins work. But, I have alot of sense of what works. With that being said, all I can do is to become acquainted with people who hear me out and think about what I say, then come to their own conclusions. They agree with me, but without great companies like Rainbow Fin Company, this would not have been a reality.

I also need to say, that working and speaking with a guy like Chuck Ames was an honor. And Rod Micheal. Sometimes ideas are brought into production because of a money driven business agenda, but, sometimes, ideas are brought out because a company believes in the sport.

Rainbow Fins believes in paddlesports.

Thanks for reading this. I will keep all updated on availability and specs of sizes etc. Plus, the initial testing of these prototypes. Keep an eye out here! And thanks to Demany Smith...without him, this also would not have happened!


Vincent Shay

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

I'm Back! Finally...back into the Blogging Game

Okay, so here goes. Back into da game! The Bloggin' Game. I am super pumped about this new year. Alot of interesting things to report. From the new Rainbow Vincent Shay Flex Fins to the training for the 2007 Wildflower 1/2 Ironman Triathlon. Which, by the way, I am a bit apprehensive about. I havent done a real triathlon for about 3 years! Along layoff. But, I have been training...even gave up drinking since December 2006, just to make my body pure again! Boy, I tell ya, I could use a beer sometime. Soon, very soon.

Okay, enjoy the posts and I will be updating on a regular basis again. Thanks for viewing and stay tuned for more of the Wacky and Wild World of Vincent Shay.

And if you want to know more, visit my new MySpace account at:

I have met alot of interesting people who have alot of the same interests as I do, not to mention people from high school who I have reaquainted with. Its a great way to catch up with friends, new and old. I am addicted actually.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Flex Fins Prototype

Thanks to a friend of mine, Rod Michael, I was able to get some really nice, ultra thin, flexible surf kayak fins created by Chuck Ames at True Ames. We have been working on this for about a month or so and finally they came! First ones! Two dedicated right and left side fins and one dedicated middle fin. Chuck based these fins off a Christo Fin I gave him, but he went more into a correct foil to fit the surf kayaks better. These particular fins are 3.5"

How did I get into flex fins? Well, the concept is nothing new, of course, but I knew that fins were going to be one of the major improvements to the now, better, evolved surf kayak designs. I have always used True Ames Fins, but, for surf kayaks, they seemed to be too thick and non-flexible. I needed something ultra thin and flexible. Not rubbery, but a give...then a flex back!

I think I got a couple of Christo Plastic fins, sides only, from Dennis Judson, slapped those things in the boxes, and gave them a whirl. Wow...the projection into and out of turns were way different than I was used to! A sort of sling-shot effect...still catches me at times even now! I then got a center fin and the whole ensemble seemed to come alive for me in the REACTION!

I told Rod during the great Pitas Waveski Event he puts on my ideas on what I would want. It was on from there. Off to let Chuck Ames put his expertise in the fin design and foil design for these particular fins. I could not be happier. Thin, light, and strong, with a bit of flex.

Until now, these sort of fins were very hard to obtain. Yes, we all had the FCS and longbox adaptors (expensive as hell!), but the FCS fins seemed to not work too well in most surf kayaks because of the lack of shorter lengths available. I think these new fins will take the current high performance surf kayaks to new heights.

I will keep all updated on the fins and availability soon. Until then, enjoy the photos.

Monday, May 01, 2006

2006 San Simeon Contest (GREAT TIMES!)

Being from the San Simeon Area I know Pico Creek. It can be a bit unpredictable and is really not the prime surf spot in the area. But, leave it up to Morlee Griswold to put on another contest with not only great waves, but an incredible group of people to hang out with. Great vibe!

Arriving on Friday, mid morning, I arrived to Pico Creek throwing out perfect 4-8 foot left handers into the river mouth. Jarod Noceti, Kate and Demany, and I were stoked and paddled out. The rest of the early crowd decided to go to Sanddollar and we actually were in heaven, because, well, we just could not figure out why they left! The waves were insane. I, like I do most contests, tire myself out in the pre-surfing sessions and this contest was no different. It was worth it though. Great Friday surfing!

Saturday morning, the first day of the comp saw about the same conditions, but a bit smaller and less consistant. Still, sets did roll in. Swell was probably only running 3-5 feet in the area, but Pico still sucked in the swell (although small, still alot of power) and the waves were actually really contestable. Some great surfing going on also.

I was stoked to see guys like Jarod Noceti again plus, Kris Soderman, who came out of hiding to just rip his Prowler and take 2 first places that Saturday. Then Fletcher hit the water. The show began. He was absolutely tearing it up. His first heat didnt go so well, but, I think that motivated him because it was all over for the rest of the waveskiers from that point forward. Everyone was truly inspired. Great job, Fletcher. That Dekka Ski is awesome!

Sunday rolled around with another heat to go for all competitors (we all surfed 3 heats) then the top 8 would go on to the semi finals then the finals. I came in after that third heat in top seed and got extremely lucky in the semi final heat (Jarod surfed great, as per usual, and I got lucky, as per usual!) then off to the finals. Extremely tired, I went up against Demany (who just on fire Sunday!), Galen (thats a no brainer!), and Matt Radis in the final. The waves seemed to fizzle out in that final. Everyone got some okay waves, and Demany definantly deserved 1st place. The lefts into the river mouth were really the best...but I was just too tired to paddle down there...guess I should have! Great job to all.

So, once again, Morlee and the crew, threw a contest that had it all. Waves, great judging, and the venue was awesome. Plus, the contests are just more fun now. I personally am having a great time and am really excited about the future of the events on the West Coast. Great job! Demany and Morlee, when is the next one?

Monday, April 17, 2006

2006 Kern River Festival

From Fun to Carnage and Back on the Kern River in 2006!

While up in Santa Cruz for the 2006 Surf Kayak Festival, I was stoked when I picked up my new Wavesport Diesel from Demany and Kate Smith. Nice looking boat...hell, I felt safe just looking at it! You have to understand, I am not a river athlete at all! Surf is all I know and yes, I have done the Kern a bit, but nothing that hard, maybe some easy Class V to Class nothing major! I never felt that comfortable really.

So, this was the year that I thought about doing more whitewater! So this last weekend John Bonaventure and I went up to dabble in a bit o' whitewater up at the Kern and take in a bit of scenery at the 2006 Kern River Festival. We would not be disappointed.

Alot of people know but I do a bit of filming and video production. I really wanted to point my lens in a documentary direction. I love action videos but I want to tell a story, you know, dive into what makes people tick. What makes them invent or come up with better ways of doing things.

My friend, Mike Johnson asked me if I would be interested in telling his father's story. I have alot of respect for Mike and his many achievements (Olympic Athlete, designer, coach, and waterman) but did not know that much about his father. I did a bit of research and found out alot! Well, at least I thought I wasnt until I spent alot of the weekend speaking with him about his life that I leared alot more...more on that later!

Back to whitewater! Making our way to Kernville, John and I agreed that since I have not been padding in the river for about 2.5 years, that we would be double careful. I was really here for the interview with Tom Johnson and checking out the pros in the slalom. Since I have never seen a slalom race before, we hung out and snapped a few photos and talked to a few people. Looks very challenging.

Excited to paddle, we spotted Kris Soderman and his wife, Haley. Perfect. Someone to paddle with and a possible shuttle person. Stoked to paddle, we decided to do the Cable run. The Diesel was awesome. Easy and fun! Stable and comfortable.

On the last rapid, I spotted a young women with a river boad. I had always wanted to try one, so I asked: 'Can I try yo riverboard?' She said, 'hell, yeah, so I said 'hell, yeah'! Its on. Picking up the swim fins I proceeded up the path to the put in. If I thought the water was cold in the kayak, my perception of cold was just about to be reanalyzed. Suffice it to say, I was a bit shriveled up, if you know what I mean, and I think you do! Kicking like a cornered goat, I aimed myself for the throat of the hole. I wanted to get barrelled! Well, at least covered up. Then I wanted to surf the wave. Its just in my blood, ya know! Of course, I missed the wave, but it was fun.

So, feeling like winners, John B. and I were pumped on looking at Brush Creek. We knew the water was much higher than I done it before (which was about 150-175 cfs) but we still felt good. We would trust Kris to make the call! Driving up, we spotted Scott McQuire, who was still amped from his first run down Brush! Radical he said, pretty sticky in some places but no problem! I had already seen the flow from the lot and it looked high...very high! But what the hell, it was super easy the first time I did it! Plus, what the hell, I was an expert surf kayaker! Hmmm....

Off we went! Down the path, down to the putin...flowing, actually raging! Scott explained the run. Well, as much as he could. Cool, and following Scott, I plunged off the first bigger drop...I just learned in a split moment that going off a waterfall very slowly is NOT GOOD. Plunging in, I flipped, going back into the waterfall. I could feel the water hitting the bottom of the kayak. I tried to roll, no dice. Tried again, even felt deep for the downstream current, to flush go. Split decision to bail. I knew John was right behind me. I felt the kayak come down near me, hitting me in the ribs a bit...not too hard, but hurt. John trying to avoid me, did the same thing and had to bail. He had NEVER swam on a river!

Okay, I
was more pissed off than anything...but for things to go bad at the top, with way harder stuff to come did not comfort me. So, off we went...the problem with Brush at that high of a flow was the eddies were either very small and critical or non existant. No room for error. And that is just what happened to John! Missing an eddy, he went backwards down a bad spot. We did not see what happened to him, but he did come out again. And looked like maybe he was a bit apprehensive. Scott tried to help him retrieve his kayak, but in the chaos, Scott and the kayak plunged down together towards the next pool. I still have no idea how Scott pulled that one off!

So, now we have John with no way out really, stranded with no path to get down. Up the cliff John would have to go! Up about 60 feet, all I could think of was how I was going to explain to Johns wife how he fell and broke his back while kayaking! NOT GOOD.

Anyhow, we all made it, but John
decided to walk out and Scott guided Kris and I down the rest. Which was actually pretty exhilarating, to say the least. John an I both learned a valuable lesson, for sure....But, he, we didnt get too beat up and we didnt die! So, what the hell, I say.

Now, more on Tom Johnson. I had the unique opportunity of spending time with this great man for about 8 hours throughout the weekend. From designing the first fiberglass canoe, to the first rotomolded, plastic kayak. Even the skirts we use today came from innovations that Tom Johnson came up with. And how about this! Tom Johnson founded the Kern River Festival. Along with the Corps of Engineers, Tom placed the rocks you see today at the part where the slalom course is set up for the Kern River Festival. And Tom has done so much more!

Such a unique and interesting person! And still very lively. I really enjoyed the story of the 'wind knot'. We drove up on Sunday for more interview footage and driving into his lot, we see Tom doing something with a piece of rope...He asked me if I knew what a 'wind knot' was...of course I didnt. He proceeded to make a knot with only the wind. The film will show it! Very interesting. Truly wonderful and interesting, I could have spent a week with him.

I am very honored to take part in documenting his unique life.
Thanks to Mike Johnson, a living legend himself. Throughout the months of filming and editing the film, I will put more and more snippets up on the blog for people to read and see.

Thanks Kris Soderman and Scott McQuire for your river skills and patience while up on Brush Creek. I have so much respect for both of you. Haley, thanks for the photos. Nice.

Feel free to contact me for more information about the film about the life of Tom Johnson, kayak pioneer and innovator.


Until next time...

Saturday, April 08, 2006

The REACTION Surf Kayak

In 2005 I designed the REACTION surf kayak and is now being produced by Murky Water Kayak in Canada. At 7'5" this surf kayak is considered short for surf kayaks and is super fast and maneurverable.

After I made the 2005 United States Surf Kayak Team I decided that I wanted to go to Costa Rica with a surf kayak that I had solely designed on my own. I had worked with Randy Phillips and codesigned the popular Intruder (Mega Surf Kayaks) and also co-designed the Mako Aquarius with Mike Johnson (PS Composites). Both really good experiences and great surf kayaks, but I wanted more. So, I did just that.

The REACTION is really influenced by my stoke on the Johnson style of surf kayaks. Building on that rocker template, I proceeded to give the REACTION a more 'evolutionized' feel. With that in mind, the REACTION was born!

Equally important to me was to find a manufacturer that could produce the kayak for me and offer the product to the consumer at a very reasonable price. Kayaks were getting way too expensive, new-comers to the sport could not even begin to think of a new surf kayak. Also, I wanted a surf kayak that was light and strong. I asked an person I knew, Corran Addison of Draggorosi Kayaks (famous kayak designer and innovator!) on his opinion. He suggested I speak with Murky Waters. I did just that and their enthusiasm to help me produce my creation was unprecedented. Plus, Murky Waters could put the price of the product where I wanted it, for maximum people to be able to afford the product, plus they could build a sub-18 pound surf kayak that was very strong. Perfect! Its been a year now and I could not be happier.

And the REACTION has done very well! At the Worlds in October 2005, I recieved alot of positive feedback about the design. Our team the US West Team went on to win the 2005 Worlds! Recently, at the 2006 Santa Cruz Surf Kayak Comp. the REACTION was surfed by the #1 HP Winner (Rusty Sage), the #2 HP Runner-Up (me, Vince Shay), and the #1 HP Womens winner (Kate Smith). Its really not all about the surf kayak and definantly about the skill of the paddler, but I must say, these people were making the REACTION look pretty good! Nice job.

If interested in demoing a REACTION or more information please contact Ed and Mariola at Murky Water Kayaks.

They are the friendliest people and will be more than willing to help you and answer any question. Thanks!

Also, thanks to Sean Morley for the nice photos of the REACTION in Action!
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