Stab Magazine | Stab Caddy 2.0: Ryan Hipwood's Cloudbreak Knife

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Stab Caddy 2.0: Ryan Hipwood’s Cloudbreak Knife

A one-punch board Stab would flip burgers for!

hardware // Sep 12, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Words by Lucas Townsend | Photo by Stu Gibson

(The Stab Caddy is a joint with our fabulous pals at FCS!)

While the Stab Caddy 1.0 introduced important boards of modern history, Stab Caddy 2.0 plucks the glass involved with single waves of even more modern memory. Future relics that demand the sweetest spot in a collection. This issue we ride shotgun with Ryan Hipwood on “the best wave” he’s ever surfed, one of the stand-out waves during That Cloudbreak swell on July 12, 2011, and tap the cadillac that drove him through it…

An accidental moment of genius from Darren Handley gifted Ryan an unorthodox board for the session. While Bruce Irons and pals were sitting well beyond the Ledge on boards in the vicinity of 10’0”, Hippo was 15 feet inside on a 6’10” x 19” x 2 1/2”. “I picked it up from DH’s factory and it felt so ugly I wasn’t going to take it home,” says Ryan. “It felt like an 8’0” with chunky rails, the wide point was too far forward and it had an unusually straight outline through the tail, with a wide, rounded pin.”

But the surfer-shaper relationship is a mysterious exchange because, while DH is fresh to the scene of big-wave shaping, Ryan admits he would’ve drowned had that board faltered. “That wave looks like a straight closeout. On days like that, they’re the ones you want. The reef is so perfect that by the time they wrap around they’ve grown huge down the end.” But the wave behind was even bigger and it nearly killed Bruce Irons. “Bruce almost drowned on that one,” says Hippo. “If I’d fallen I would’ve been down for both waves. I didn’t have any floatation on, I had a tiny 6’10”, so it would’ve been really touch and go whether I was coming up.” Design genius? “A bit of dumb luck that paid off, but definitely the best board I’ve had for sure.”

What began as a hideous feeling underarm turned out to hold all the design elements to make it work. The board was a thick 2 1/2”, volume right to the rails with a very flat deck and gave Hippo enough paddle momentum to scratch in. It paddled like an 8’0” but rode like a 6’10”. The drop was steep and a board any longer would’ve pushed him well outside the barrel line and into a deep bottom turn. Being so short in relation to the wave size, he could pull the board up early, set a very high line and manage three crucial pumps. “I had to get those pumps in, and I couldn’t have done them on the boards those other guys were riding. Everyone wants to be on a shorter board once they’re on the wave. The problem is competing with other guys. I waited for nearly three hours for that good one, and sacrificed a lot, but I know I wouldn’t have made that wave if I was on a bigger board.”

And why’d you let go of the rail, Hip? “That’s why I call it the best wave of my life, it wasn’t one of those waves you can stand there and enjoy. I had to work that whole way from start to finish. To this day I’ve never gone that fast on a surfboard, even on a tow board. My board actually started generating lift towards the end of the wave, it was starting to come up and out of the water. There was only a very small bit of rail allowing me to keep my board in the water.”

Roughly 12 months after the ride of his life, Cloudbreak reared again during the Volcom Fiji Pro window and Hippo was back with his 6’10” DHD: “It wasn’t huge in the morning, about six to eight feet. The first washthrough came, I bailed, came up, and it was broken. I was like, ‘You’re fucken kidding me, after all we’ve been through you snap on a lame wash-through?’ I was rattled. I don’t give a shit about boards when they break, but that was the one board I wanted. I looked near the judging tower, the lagoon, I couldn’t find it anywhere. The weird part was it snapped right in front of my fins. All I had was a small portion of the board. Cloudbreak took the rest.”

Y’can call it divine intervention. “It was like Cloudbreak was saying, ‘You got lucky last time, but don’t think you’re going to just come back and I’m just going to hand it to you again.’ It was very humbling.”

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