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A surfer since the age of 4, California native Gabe Loyd caught the kitesurfing bug in 2004 and never looked back. Learning early on that surfboards work but often don’t stand up to the rigors of kitesurfing, he started shaping his own kite-specific boards and now has six kite surfboards to offer riders for a variety of conditions. Gabe shared with us his philosophy about boards made for kiting versus surfing and what he has to offer for 2013.
Coming from such a strong surf background, what is your philosophy about kitesurfing on the same board that you surf on?
Obviously if you grab a 6’0” surfboard, put up a kite, and go kiting on it, it is going to work. However, a board not made for kiting will fall apart and probably break within a week and it won’t allow you to kite at your full potential. It’s like comparing Top Sirloin to Filet Mignon.
They’re both going to taste good and fill you up, but once you have had the best you won’t want to go back. So it is with surfboards versus kite surfboards. Both are going to work, but once you ride a properly made kite surfboard you will notice the difference and realize why they should be designed differently. I think riding the same board for both surfing and kite surfing should be your last choice. If it is your only option, then ride it and have fun. But if you have the ability and opportunity to have a board made for kiting you will be much happier with its performance and longevity.
You are an unusual shaper in that you shape and glass your own boards. Why?
Maybe now in 2013 it is unusual to shape and glass, but really I am just sticking to the roots of surfing. I would say that most successful board companies today succeeded because the shaper was shaping and glassing all the boards in house and learned how to build boards from start to finish.
Al Merrick started just like that in a small shop shaping and glassing by himself. So did Erick Arakawa and I would guess Rusty did as well. They didn’t rely on someone else to build their boards and neither do I. I control all aspects of production and this is how I maximize my profits and keep my boards to the highest quality standard.
Basically, with the advent of the shaping machine, shapers are becoming obsolete. Now we have guys that can’t shape finishing computer blanks and calling themselves shapers. Hey, if you can’ t use a planer, you’re not a shaper. If you don’t glass then you don’t realize how certain elements of the shape will benefit or hurt your glass job. If you don’t sand then you can’t truly understand how mistakes in glassing will carry on to the sander and in the end, the final product. Fact is, each step leads to the next and it takes total knowledge of the process to truly master the art of making a surfboard.
My philosophy is that to be the best takes dedication and hard work. You can’t skip steps and call yourself a master. Boards are made by hand and that’s that. Even popouts from overseas are made by somebody’s hand. So let’s not forget where we came from and how we ended up here, now, in 2013 with some of the hottest designs ever.
If a customer was going on a surf trip and only wanted to bring one board to surf and kite on, what kind of questions would you ask to shape him or her the ideal board, or would you say bring two boards?
I personally never go anywhere without at least two boards. What if you bust out a fin box on your first wave of a one week trip and now you have no board? Always bring two boards. But, if you really can only bring one board, then we would have to make it big enough for you to surf on.
Let’s face it, would be pretty hard to catch waves on a 5’6” kiteboard that is only 2” thick! So we would have to make a board designed for both. What would I do? I would push the wide point forward, widen the nose a bit, and glass it heavier. Beyond that we would have to figure out what style of board they would want. With multiple tail and fin options we just need to figure out what they are used to and the type of waves they are targeting to ride. That’s about it. But yes, I would say, “Bring two boards!”
What are the main differences when shaping a surfboard versus a kiteboard?
Well, first off we start by ordering a higher-density foam blank and a thicker stringer. For strapless boards I am going with US Blanks green density and for strapped I am using the brown or classic US Blanks foam. So we start there and go to the shaping room. Compared to a normal surfboard I draw out kiteboards with wider noses and tails relative to the center width.
For example, my 5’6” kite rocket is 17 3/4” wide on center and the nose is 12 1/8” and the tail is 14 1/8”. Normal surfboard measurement for that length and width might have nose width of 10 1/2″ to 11 3/4″ and a tail somewhere between 13” and 14”. In board design, small measurements make big differences.
The widened nose allows me to move the wide point slightly forward of center and I can streamline out the tail. Pushing the wide point forward allows the board to handle speed and give drive while streamlining the tail lets the board track well. Too much curve in the tail may cause the board to wobble while tracking and too little curve might affect turning ability. You have to find the perfect medium to create the best all-around board. On the bottom I am doing pretty much the same as a traditional surfboard with a nice deep concave starting 1/3 back from the nose blending into a triple concave through the fins. V in the tail and good tail rocker will finish it off and the board should be very fast and responsive.
What do you believe are the main design elements riders should consider when purchasing a kite surfboard?
I guess when you are buying a kiteboard you are basically trusting the company that made it to provide you with the best possible equipment that you can buy. So you have to do some research and see who and what is out there and decide what you are looking for. Strapped, strapless, hand shaped, or molded, you have to decide what you are into and go for it.
My advice is to go with a board made by someone who knows what they are doing. For example, how many companies out there are promoting and selling boards when no one in the company actually has any board building experience? Are they trusting factories in Asia to have the designs all dialed out? And who over there is testing them out that has their hands on the whole process? This being said, I would go with a board from someone who is directly involved in the production process and who rides them as well. Look for straightforward design elements, make sure the board has tail rocker, V, and concaves – these three things are critical to a good board.
Are there things you look for in a surfboard that you think are use useless when shopping for your ideal kite surfboard?
I’m not sure I would say anything is useless, however surfboards are designed to generate their own speed without the use of a kite. So, you have to look at the waves you intend to ride and have a board suited for them. For example smaller soft waves will require a wider tail while bigger hollow waves will want a tail that is narrower and pulled in, usually a round pin.
With kiting we always have speed, so we design them to handle speed more than generate it. However, we still design kiteboards to go fast with a fast bottom. Think if you have a fast kite and a fast board what is happening? You’re haulin’!
|2013 LOYD BOARDS|
|Board Name||Sizes||Type||Target||Date Available|
|THE PEARL||5’6″, 5’8″, 5’10”, CUSTOM||SURF DIRECTIONAL||BIGGER FAST WAVES AND LOTS OF WIND||Now|
|FLYING PIG||5’6″, 5’8″, 5’10”, CUSTOM||SURF DIRECTIONAL||ALL-AROUND WAVES AND TRICKS||Now|
|BEE-STING||5’6″, 5’8″, 5’10”, CUSTOM||SURF DIRECTIONAL||ALL-AROUND WAVES||Now|
|KITE ROCKET||5’6″, 5’8″, 5’10”, CUSTOM||SURF DIRECTIONAL||ALL-AROUND WAVES||Now|
|RIPPA||5’6″, 5’8″, 5’10”, CUSTOM||SURF DIRECTIONAL||ALL-AROUND WAVES||Now|
You have five different custom models. Describe what each board is meant for.
The Pearl is a very streamlined pulled in small squash designed for larger waves and high winds. The Kite Rocket is designed as an all-around board that can handle almost any conditions, tracks very well into the wind, and is great for speed runs because the tail just grips so hard.
The Flying Pig is a great board for doing airs and tricks and is also a good all-around board, especially when the wind starts to die off. The wider outline and nose really grab the wind for strapless board pressure and also the nose is good for riding fins first.
The Kite Rippa is the kite version of my “Rippa” surfboard model with a standard squash tail for all around riding. I developed the Bee-Sting after riding a round pin and not liking the slip while trying to point into the wind, so I figured the notch behind the forward fins might eliminate the slippage. Well it did, but it also made the board the loosest and easiest to turn of all my boards. I’m not kidding when I say, “this board turns itself.” It’s insane for fast in-the-pocket riding and destroying waves.
How do you customize your boards for individual riders?
Usually customers and myself will hash out what they are looking for and I will make a board suited for what they are used to riding and their size, weight, and experience. Beyond that the real customization really comes in the spray. Most people that buy my boards know that I can airbrush and they can come up with some really cool and personal spray ideas that are unique and special to them.
I really enjoy making nice looking boards with art that is meaningful to the customer. We can also glass boards to certain specifications to make them lighter or stronger.
Any plans for a quad kite surfboard?
All my boards can be made as quads, it is just a matter of preference. I can’t say that three fins or four fins works any better, they just draw different lines and it is really up to the rider to decide what they like. Me personally, I have been riding three fin boards for 34 years and that is what I am used to and what I like. But yes, I do make quite a few quad fin setups and also convertibles with five boxes for either a three fin setup or a quad.
Anything else you want to add?
The reason I am making surfboards and kiteboards is because it is in my blood. My father shaped his first surfboard in 1968 and is still making them now. He has worked with Al Merrick, finish shaping 11,000 boards for him, and now he is on the North Shore working with Eric Arakawa, John Carper, and Pat Rawson. I am happy to keep the board building tradition alive in my family and keep producing surfboards for the world.
We surfers and kiters are a tribe of ocean loving adventure seeking cool people and I am so stoked to be closely involved in the industry that defines my passion. I promise every customer that comes to me that I will give 110% of my energy to make them the best board that I can. When you come into my factory you will see that this is a true and honest operation. No gimmicks, fancy tricks, or wordage to get you to buy a Loyd Board – just high quality, performance, and durability. And oh yeah, they look cool too! See you out there….
Want 185 pages of 2013 kiteboarding gear info on 28 brands? Check out the TKB 2013 Buyer’s Guide.