Words by Nathan Oldfield and Bob McTavish.
Since we started our McTavish Trim event a few years back, we've become intrigued by longer, flatter boards to generate more down-the-line speed in a vast variety of conditions. The power to turn junk, into waves - The ability to catch any small ripple, and early. After a steady series of R&D boards for a few trusted trimmers such as Nathan Oldfield and our very own Christian 'Wispy' Barker, we’re finally ready to launch our glider, fondly called Sugar. Get it? 10 foot plus, with a soft roll up front to slide through bump and chop. Low rocker, with an elegant pin-tail template. A flattish engine but with sufficient tail lift to get you down and around crumbling sections. A sweet Tracker fin - Plenty of paddle-power - Incredible resin art.
Recently we picked Nathan Oldfield's brain and found out what it is he loves about these big boards and how it was working on his very own Sugar with Bob McTavish.
"I've been riding boards at the longer end of the spectrum for over fifteen years. My good friend Tom Wegener introduced me to twelve and even sixteen feet D-fin hollow timber boards, as well as his finless sixteen foot Bill Wallace toothpick and his gargantuan 16 feet long, 6 inch thick, 70 kg, solid paulownia Olo. I've also had a few boards in the twelve foot range shaped by Paul Joske and Eden Saul in my personal quiver over that time. So gliders around the twelve foot range feel very familiar to me and they are a real passion of mine. They have increasingly been playing a big part in my surfing life.
I like riding gliders because it's a different kind of surfing. It's relaxing and spacious. In many ways there's no performance focus, no emphasis on nose riding or tip tricks, so you get to leave your ego on the beach and just go surfing. It's all about the feeling of trim. It's a very clean and very pure kind of surfing. I realise that it doesn't look like much from the beach. To the casual observer, it looks like you're just standing there but I don't really care what people think. I've always said surfing is about what it feels like, not what it looks like. It looks simple but at the same time there are a lot of subtle things happening. You're reading the wave further down the line than you do on any other board. You're receiving and translating a lot of information through your feet, the heft and flex of the board as it interacts with the curve and surface tension and texture of the water. You're navigating the leverage of the all that rail in the wave. You're walking the board, weighting and unweighting. Trimming, turning, resetting, trimming. Changing gears. Really pushing through the board and using your whole body to swing it through turns. Riding high. Letting it run. So there's a lot happening but it doesn't feel too busy, somehow there's breathing room to feel it all and to take it all in and really receive the moments. It's a kind of sacred emptiness that I really enjoy.
Recently Bob McTavish shaped me a custom twelve foot Sugar Glider. I rode a few other boards in that range that he made and was able to share some feedback and together we put a lot of time into discussing and designing the outline, rails, foil and bottom contours. Of course, the board came out beautifully. The shape is clean and the quality of the finish is world class. It really is the surfboard of a lifetime for me. I've only had the chance to ride it a handful of times but already I have connected with it and it feels like an old friend. I can't wait to get to know it better!
It's a deep joy for me to have a board hand shaped by my boyhood hero and to feel the energy of his magic craftsmanship beneath my feet. There's so much of Bob's passion and wisdom and goodness in this ship and she sails sweet and true. It really is such an honour to have this board in my quiver and my surfing life is all the richer for it."