Stab Magazine | Meet Dane Gudang’s 13’11” Mothership

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Meet Dane Gudang’s 13’11” Mothership

A Donald Brink x DG collaboration.

style // Feb 16, 2019
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Who goes to a shaper and orders a 13’11”?

Dane Gudauskas, that’s who.  

The design had been on his mind for a while when he struck up a conversation with craftsman Donald Brink. The concept they devised would be part Hawaiian olo, part Joe Quigg paddleboard and part modern shooter. It wouldn’t be a replica, recreation or riff off of a tested design, but something wholly new. 

As Brink explains on the sand at San Onofre, “If you think of surfboard design as a family tree, some of those limbs may have appeared to die off, but maybe all they need is a little pruning so new growth can blossom?”

“I’d been looking at the old Hawaiian boards and was inspired by what it would have been like to ride them. Then this Quigg paddleboard came through Donnie’s shop. That really took us in an interesting direction,” says Dane. 

It’s a weekday afternoon, the surf is sheet glass with chest-high sets perfectly peeling down the cobblestones. Donald, Dane and I have gotten together to surf and talk about this craft that looks a little bit like a giant tongue depressor.

IMG 5854

Built to cruise.

When it came to building the board, Donald was uniquely suited for the task. Based in Capo Beach, he’s embedded in a hardcore surfboard building community whose history of innovation goes back before Grubby Clark and Hobie Alter even spit out a foam blank. The DNA of Phil Edwards, Tom Morey, Terry Martin, the Patterson brothers, and others runs deep here. And with his own creative approach to shaping surfboards, Donald is in the perfect zone to push boundaries forward.

Because nobody makes 14-foot blanks (the biggest is an 11’3”), to get started on the 13’11” Donald first had to glue two blanks together.

“Gorilla Glue and a clean cut,” he smiles when asked about the process.

But Donald doesn’t pump his tires. It’s not that easy. Getting the rocker and rail lines of the two blanks to align had to be a challenge. And because Donald’s kind of a genius when it comes to this stuff, he also used two different density foams with a lighter blank for the front third and a denser blank for the rest of the board.

“We had to be really conscious of swing weight and making sure the board was balanced properly,” Donald explains. 

As far as the board’s details, glassed and waxed it weighs in at 27.8 pounds. The rocker is only 4 1/8”, making it really, really flat. The bottom contour is also basically flat before going into a double concave in the back quarter of the board. Donald’s utilized a small fin made of recycled wood to give it just enough stability without overpowering the board. It’s set forward of the tail a couple feet. 

The artistry is in the rails. At the nose, the rail edge is nearly flat with the deck, but as the rail line runs down the board, Donald’s masterfully turned the rail into a down-railer with a hard, tucked under edge through the tail. 

“It twists like an airplane propeller if you look at it,” says Donald. 

After all of that, how does it ride? 

Dane is giddy as a grom getting their first board on Christmas morning. 

“The speed, the trim, the whole way you approach riding a wave, it’s a brand-new sensation,” marvels Dane. “It’s not as easy to go straight as you may think. It’s about those micro adjustments and the wave energy coming up through your feet.”

After Dane gets a few waves on the board he kicks it over to me to try. With seven or eight feet of nose in front of me, it takes a second to get my bearings paddling, but it quickly feels normal…and fast. 

The board covers water like a power boat. Part of the Quigg influence is that the wide point is pushed pretty far back. Aesthetically it looks a bit off, but Quigg was a master of paddleboard design, and picking up on those cues, Donald’s 13’11” flies. 

Catching waves is effortless. It feels graceful. Slouched shoulders, bent knees, trimmed out, it’s the art of just standing there. The energy of the wave propels you forward, and as Dane said, you really have to surf it with micro adjustments in your feet. Maintaining the trim line is everything. 

This isn’t contemporary surfing in the pump-down-the-line sense, but it feels new. It feels old and new at the same time. When Dane asks for the board back I don’t really want to hand it over. And as I write this, I’m thinking of how much damn fun it would be paddling in from way out the back on a big day at Doheny (and I’m NOT a Doheny guy). That must mean the board works. 

“It’s like a black belt in karate, they focus on the smallest details that other people might disregard. That’s how this board is. You have to focus on the small nuances—slow yourself down and let the board do its thing. It’s another way to look at riding waves, and I think it helps you understand the energy source better, which can be translated into all facets of your surfing,” says Dane.

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