Dane Does Displacement: “The Only Truth Is The Way It Feels Under Your Feet”
Watch: Dane, Greg Liddle, Scott Anderson, and the most complex design dose from the Electric Acid Surfboard Test!
“A friend sent me a link to [a Liddle displacement hull], that I bought on Craigslist a few years ago,” Dane Reynolds told us, giving the Scott Anderson-shaped, Greg Liddle-designed Death Machine the ol’ under arm assesment.
While Dane’s influence on the broader conversation of surfboard design can’t be overstated, the stubbornly hi-fi freak talent never existed in a vacuum, and over the years has enjoyed the prodding and proselytizing of many an open-minded icon, from Dan Malloy and Tom Curren, to the friend he was talking about, artist and filmmaker, Alex Kopps, whose never released magnum upus to the Malibu / Rincon school of hull theory, Displacement, drew many over the darkside for a time, trying to make sense of the near-edgeless, flexed-fin designs.
“I bought it, because I thought it would be cool… I just felt like a kook.”
After three days of running through asyms and fishes in solid southern pulse, a fading swell and an empty afternoon at Punta Conejo presented the perfect opportunity for the design’s redemption, the soft but spinning Mexican points the closest thing around to the Malibu, Rincon, and Ranch walls Steve Krajewski, Liddle, and their modern planing hull messiah, George Greenough first developed the down-the-line designs, and where its devoted cult following still practice the discipline today.
Since hanging up his planer full-time a few years ago, Liddle tasked legendary Los Angeles board builder, Scott Anderson with picking up the torch, producing Liddle Designs mosels out of his Southbay shaping grotto, which occupies what was in the 1960s Greg Noll’s Hermosa Beach operation.
While to the uninitiated veteran, as well as the unassuming ignoramus, the chubby-outlined mid-length boards could be easily mistaken for user-friendly Funshapes, Liddle’s are anything but pedestrian. Hell, even the most flag-waving throwbacks—most drawn to the boards via Malibu mainstay Jimmy Gamboa’s surfing in Thomas Campbell’s Sprout, and Jason Baffa’s One California Day—have found the boards more than challenging, splitting the already niche segment of surfers between those who wrote the boards off as being, basically, as Dane put it “not maneuverable,” and those compelled to unlock the secrets of the design.
Paddling up the point after getting his sealegs on the wildly sensitive design, Dane was approached by a large, handsomely bearded man, enthusiastically interested in the board Dane was trying not to bog on.
“Is that a Death Machine!?” the man inquired.
Kept somewhat purposefully in the dark as to the design’s specifics, Dane honestly had no idea. “Uh, I don’t think so,” he replied, offering the flat, radically foiled disk for inspection.
“Yeah, that’s a Death Machine, I have two of those.” In fact, the man, who Stab later came to know by his real name, Kyle, and his wonderful Instagram, @death2kooks, had hauled another of Liddle’s variation on the displacement theme with him there, driving it down the line with competency.
For Dane, as with all of the mid-lengths we’d smuggled south for the Acid Test, the design’s limitations became immediately apparent, but its quirks and subtleties piqued his curiosity much more than the Lovelace mini-glider, or the Josh Hall longfish, and before long he had found his feet and was leaning firmly into low bottom turns and section-connecting off the tops with speed and style to burn. For a minute, it looked like Dane was really enjoying it.
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