In honor of our upcoming exhibit, "What Box? Thinking Outside traditional Lines of Surfboard Design", featuring work by Tom Morey, Carl Ekstrom, Donald Brink and Ryan Burch, we decided to feature this recently donated Morey "Swizzle" from Don Bishop.
Below is an article on the Swizzle that appeared in the San Diego Union Tribune, back nearly a decade ago:
whole new wave
Tom Morey wants surfers to try the
Swizzle Stick, a soft board that's designed to shred
By Rachel Laing
OCEANSIDE – People who spent their
youth in coastal Southern California since the 1970s probably had their summer
memories touched by Tom Morey.
Morey, who whiled away his own youth
on local beaches, invented the Boogie board, the spongy bodyboard that has
become a fixture on garage-wall hooks throughout the region.
Now, nearly 35 years after the
Boogie's debut, Morey is ready to launch another innovation in wave-riding: the
To hard-core surfers, it might seem
Morey is dreaming the impossible dream."Soft" and
"performance" are mutually exclusive, they'll tell you. Soft boards
are for beginners and vacationers from the corn-producing states. If you want
to shred, you shell out the bucks for a board with a fiberglass shell.
But Morey, who's been surfing since
the days of wooden boards, sees plenty of room for improvement to today's hard
surfboard. He's spent the past decade working on a board he believes does a
better job of preserving the fun of surfing while removing some of the peril
hard boards pose to surfers' heads and faces.
"In my view, surfing isn't
about constantly being in jeopardy," he said.
Dubbed the Swizzle Stick, Morey's
board is shaped of polypropylene foam, the same lightweight, shock-absorbent
material that's inside modern car bumpers. The foam core is covered with a
vibrantly colored skin of polyethylene, an inexpensive, waxy plastic, that is
heat-seared onto the shape. The only hard surface on the board is the wooden
spine, called a stringer, that runs up the middle of all surfboards to give
While it's hardly pillow-soft, the
board's slight give makes the threat of being nailed in the head less menacing.
"You need to get bumped a
little to get the idea," Morey said. "But you won't get maimed."
Morey has spent about a decade
designing the Swizzle, trying out various materials, shapes and manufacturing
processes. He was assisted by Chuck Herpick, an old surfing buddy he's known
since the 1940s, with input from Jimmy Linville of J.L. Designs, a well-known
local custom bodyboard maker thatshares workshop space in Oceanside with
Morey's Y Surfboards.
The Swizzle Stick went through
hundreds of iterations before the fine-tuning process started a few years ago.
For this phase, Morey relied on a small network of serious surfers who bought
early versions of the board to help work out the final kinks. Anyone who had a
problem could exchange the board for a newer version, so Morey was always aware
of design flaws.
One early user was Richard Ruiz, who
works from his beachfront condo in Oceanside and surfs daily. Ruiz has
witnessed the evolution of the Swizzle Stick through experimentation with
various materials, problems with leaks and stringers that break.
Recently, he said, he wrote to Morey
and Herpick to tell them they'd done it at last: They made a soft board that
performed as well as a hard board while offering several advantages hard boards
Ruiz said the board is extremely
buoyant without being bouncy. Its softness makes it comfortable to lie on and
to kneel on for paddling. Best of all, he said, the board inspires a confidence
hard boards don't.
"I take off on waves on the
Swizzle that I otherwise wouldn't take off on because I'd be measuring the
consequences," Ruiz said. "If I know I'm going to hit something, with
fiberglass, I just pass on it."
Paul Mears, who discovered the
Swizzle Stick at an Encinitas surf shop, said another advantage of the board is
its resistance to "dings," nicks in the shell of hard boards that
will cause them to leak.
ding-resistant," Mears said. "It doesn't absorb water, no matter what
happens to it."
That quality makes it a good
traveling board, Mears said. He has taken his to Hawaii and surfed in contests
The Swizzle is sold over the
Internet and from Y Surfboard's production facility on South Cleveland Avenue
in Oceanside, as well as a few surf shops in California and Hawaii.
Now that the board is ready for
consumer sales, the company is anticipating a swell in demand and plans to
license the board out to a manufacturer for an upfront fee and royalties.
With all that the Swizzle has going
for it, the biggest challenge for Y Surfboards might be overcoming surfers'
dismissive attitude toward soft boards.
Mears recalls a story of a fellow
surfer's initial disdain upon paddling over to him in the water to check out
his Swizzle Stick.
"He grabs it and says, 'Aw, a
sponger,'" Mears said. "Then I took off and did really well on the
wave, and the guy couldn't believe how I could surf."
The Swizzle Stick, while less
expensive than hard boards, is an investment. A 9-foot board retails for about