Stab Magazine | Watch: Dane Reynolds Push The Limits Of A Proper San Diego Fish

Watch: Dane Reynolds Push The Limits Of A Proper San Diego Fish

Trimcraft and Michael Arenal are carrying on the San Diego fish tradition of Steve Lis and Rich Pavel. 

cinema // Dec 3, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Over the last two decades Twin Keeled fishes are perhaps the most effective gateway drugs into the dark world of Alternative Design. 

While grey-haired amateur historians will correctly point out the influence of Curren’s surfing at Jeffreys Bay on a Skip Frye keel in Andrew Kidman’s cult classic, Litmus, most surfer’s, say, 25-50 years old will have had their thoroughly thrusted consciousness shifted by …Lost5’5″ 19 1/4 (though millennial hipsters will just as soon hold up tattered copies of Thomas Campbell’s Sprout, desperately searching for a DVD player to recall Rastovich and Dan Malloy’s down-the-line drive). Regardless, fish has become a staple diet amongst even the most righteously high performance, especially in gutless, slow surf. 

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She might be a stubby little number, but at 5’4 the little tank packs plenty of foam and fiberglass for a full grown man.



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Wanting to tap as close to the Sunset Cliff source as we could, Stab reached out to Ryan Lovelace, who for the last few years has been building his fledgling brand, Trimcraft Surfboards, into an international player offering the designs of two of the most respected and iconic board builders still operating, Gerry Lopez, as well as San Diego’s Rich “Toby” Pavel. Famous for his split-keeled, double-winged Speed Dialer fish, Pavel was recruited at an early age by the fish’s pater familias, Steve Lis. In the early 1970s, with demand for Lis’ keel-finned fishes, Lis and Pavel’s Choice Surfboards refined the keel-finned designs together. Lis left San Diego for Hawaii and a more humble lifestyle building boards for loyal customers, while Pavel picked up the torch and moved forward, tweaking the fish any number of ways over the last four decades to many a discerning disciple’s near-religious pleasure. 

With Pavel working from their Santa Barbara factory, Lovelace has opened the door for young shapers like Ventura’s Michael Arenal to step into the role Pavel enjoyed with Lis forty years ago, mastering their craft building Pavel and Lis’ iconic models. 


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“Just the rails and the deck make it feel more retro-y than performance,” Dane said upon first encounter with the 5’4 Lis keel. “And the density… It’s like rock hard.”

After a few days of pumping surf and an afternoon of midlength tomfoolery, Dane and the EAST crew posted up at a rippable if soft right point with a handful of fishes and set DR loose. 

“I do ride a lot of twin fins,” Dane admitted. “Like I was telling you earlier, I really don’t like longboarding all that much. So my go-to board in extremely small surf is a twin-fin.” 



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After blowing the fin out of the Gary McNeill he’d been so excited to thrash, Dane grabbed the stubby, black Trimcraft and commenced hammering away at the little righthander, trying to make the only slightly modified forty-year-old design draw very modern lines, indeed. 

While the board looked spicy at full speed, Dane’s struggle was very real. And, while the board had endless drive and down-the-line speed, the long based keels set so far back, and the deep swallow left Dane clawfooting the squirlley little disk.

“Look, my toe prints are literally right here,” Dane lamented after the first session, pointing to the visible indentations in the marbled 6-oz on either side of the swallow, where his back foot was bridging the gap. “My whole foot is hanging off the back of the board.”

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Banking with every ounce of traction he could find, and putting the keel-fins through a proper stress test.



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Sneaking a little inside vision on the 5’4 Trimcraft keel fish.


Sam Moody.

While the board looked zippy at speed and on a stretched out open face, there was no denying the limitations of the true blue throwback design. Dane didn’t have many harsh criticisms of the chunky little 5’4″, however, it was relegated back to the coffin after three sessions. 

“My knee and groin hurt from trying to keep my back foot on the board,” Dane said, again noting his back-foot bridging the fish tail’s gap. “So… no bueno.”


Look for the toe-prints in the wax.


Sam Moody.


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