the “thumb”

Having been a student of board design for a while now, I am pretty stoked that a lot of barriers are coming down. With Joe Bauguess’ mini Simmons boards and Tom and Joe Wegener’s alaias etc. breaking down all pre-conceived notions of what makes a board work, it seems a door has been opened that hopefully will never be closed again.

I first saw one of Joe Bauguess’ mini Simmons at the 2007 Sacred Craft Show at the Swift Movement booth. I had to ask the guy there if it actually worked. Of course I had heard of Bob Simmons and his text book on naval architecture by Lindsay Lord. I was intrigued to say the least. As the next sacred craft show approached I decided to give the concept a try.

lindsay lord HPHThis is a Lidsay Lord planing hull and this concept was the basis for Bob Simmons’ keel fin designs. It’s no stretch to see the similarities. I also honed in on a photo of a Bob Simmons twin that looks like it was taken at Windansea. The belly is there, as is the deep single concave through the tail, and the keels of course. The concept of displacing water and then redirecting it back under the board into the concave and sweeping it back through the keels for control was a little hard to wrap my brain around at first, but now seems perfectly natural. This is a really organic shape.

My desire was to do a board along these lines without really being a replica. I took an old egg template and chopped it to 6’7″ because it just looked right. The wide point moved back to form nice hips and the tail ended up just over 16″ wide. I really loved the flow of the belly-single concave bottom plan and felt pinched soft rails would be comfortable. This is the result.

mast surfboards HPH

I absolutely love this board and everyone who tries it seems to have a good time almost immeditely. I showed a smaller one at the 2008 Sacred Craft Show and who showed up but Joe Bauguess. I had heard from an aquaintence that he was a bit upset with people stealing his new idea. When he introduced himself I said “Oh shit! Are you here to beat me up?” He was actually quite pleasant and we discussed the design for a while. He even was kind enough to stop down that evening to Surfindian in PB where I was having a show with Sam Cody (my boards, his art).

Joe Bauguess and I, Sacred Craft 2008Joe is a master craftsman and a real gentleman.

I have since made several  of what I call the HPH aka”the thumb”, named after Bob Simmons’ insistence that his boards were “hydrodynamic planing hulls” and my friends’ endearing nickname. I have a feeling that these boards will start showing up everywhere soon. A lot of people are doing versions and it’s a testament to the fundamental design that they work so well.They are just so fun that everyone will want one in their quiver. And we should thank Joe Bauguess and RK for the inspiration.

2 thoughts on “the “thumb””

  1. This is such an interesting history of the Simmons boards. I have not heard about the Lindsay Lord planing hulls. I also love the picture of you and Bauguess with Jacek in the background.

    1. Hi Caroline, and thanks. Bob Simmons was known to actually carry around a copy of Lord’s book “Naval Architecture of Planning Hulls” which was about his studies for the U.S. navy in the 40’s into planing hull efficiency. Simmons was one of the few surfers at the time that could have made any sense of it, very technical. more at

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