Dale Solomonson Finless Shaped by Carl Olsen

Well, it’s summer in Santa Cruz again. The days are long and hot, the waves are small and the kelp at my local break has grown out of control again. After having my fin catch on it continuously the other day while I was trying to catch the remnants of a little south- I decided it was time for a new finless. It’s been a couple of years since I made my last one, but I have always wanted to get back to playing around with these designs. This design http://www.swaylocks.com/resources/detail_page.cgi?ID=276 has stuck in my mind ever since I came to Sways, because it is really close to what my natural progression was to be with my personal designs. In my opinion, Dale is right on with pretty much every point that he makes in the notes that accompany the sketch that he has drawn. So I figured, for all of us that have stumbled across this diagram and wondered how it would surf… I’d bring it to life! -Carl

Ok, so she’s 9’ long by 23" wide, I didn’t scale the dimensions from the diagram exactly, I just scaled her up by eye and went with what worked with my eye and my templates cosmetically. I wanted her to have a sleek and sexy look… I already had an idea of how all the lines pull together from shaping my other (3) finless boards. -Carl

The concave was a b*tch to shape, I had to get pretty serious with my 5000 rpm grinder… love that tool. I can’t figure out how to turn the flash off on my camera, the concave is really hard to shoot a good picture of in my shaping room… you can’t see the shadows when the flash is on. It looks radical in real life. I am going to finish shaping her this weekend… maybe even today. Oh! I almost forgot- I decided to NOT go with the stringerless design this time around, I want to have our glass shop take care of it, and don’t want to have to worry about the rocker getting tweaked badly, the board twisting, or any of many possible problems that can happen to a board like this in the hands of other people. -Carl

Looks fun, Carl…almost Hot-Curlish. Is that EPS? :slight_smile: I love the deck-rail transition lines, that look is so clean compared to a big dome.

Edit: Whoa :slight_smile: Not hot curlish anymore! I posted before your shots of the concave… :slight_smile:

…Carl, your shape work is very good…

please take photos in several angles

-in videos that I saw with this type of finless, they looks with heavy tracking problems…

Hi Carl,

Ahh the kelp! I was experiencing the same thing during this last swell. It seems like just when you actually get a wave from all the crowds, and are drawing a nice line down the wave and can see that looong shoulder form, the kelp bed just goes “hold on there buddy, I don’t think you’re going to go that far” …“YANK” and your board just stalls!

I hope you finish this finless board and teach those kelp beds a lesson!



carl/dale: how do you expect it’ll ride? will you be able to turn aggressively, or will it be ginger turns, working at not sliding out?

this post oughta be a nice breath of fresh air – something out of the usual.

Great idea.

I agree with Jason, “this is a breath of fresh air”. It’s really inspiring to see designs that are so far out of the ordinary. I’m also very interested in how this type of board rides and turns. Please keep us updated.

Hey Carl,

Do oversized wakeboard/kiteboard style fins work in kelp?

Not trying to question your board goals…just curious about surfing in kelp…never done it myself.

Wow. Thanks for posting. I can’t wait to see/read more on this one. I’m really intrigued by the idea, and I can’t wait to hear how it surfs…

Hi Carl,

An interesting board, the tail concave looks neat, however the tail rails are effectively keel fins, and because they are going to act like fins, I suspect that they will behave like drastically toed out fins because of the rail convergence . . . . I wonder if they would work better if the tail rails were parallel? . . . anyway it will be very interesting to hear how you get on. . … and please visualise a tunnel fin on top of that concave to complete the circle (oops, forgot, the tunnel will catch kelp, but maybe for non kelpy days :wink: )



I’m glad you post here Carl .

I like how your boards are different . And DEFINATELY want to read / ?see? [photos , please?] how it rides , too , please ?

btw…How has your spoon been going , have you been getting any good waves on that yet ?



i’m really interested in following this thread too carl. thanks for sharing.

Here’s something- Jamie O’Brien finless surfing

Yeah he’s on the wrong design board with the wrong style, riding like on a thruster. Mostly just goofin around. But some great moments! Makes me wonder how his finless surfing would have looked with the right equipment and a few months of serious practice on some really hot walls.

Old question worth revisiting: do we really need fins as much as we think? Or are they (at least sometimes) for certain types of performance, in certain types of waves, for board shapes dependent on “training wheels”?

Would you be willing to trade some directional control for a lot more freedom and smooth down-the-line style speed?


now that’s hot

the proof that template can hold down a tail from spinning w/out the

crutch of extreme lateral resistance

learning to use the rail, a priority.

The demo of finless surfing in this clip

makes clear there is no need for new fangled

and revolutionary advancements

to achieve the controled drop on over head


most illustrations of finless surfing in the near past have been on body equiptment and weird0ass shapes in marginal small to nothing waves

this is a real boost to hypothetical finless musings

and perhaps enough impetus to generate more study

and perhaps breakthroughs on the finless front.

especially the shallow water access

and beach sliding dimension

hark111 ?

is that the sound of a distant bell

ask not for whom the bell tolls,

it is tolling for all of our preconceptions


all predjudice shall tumble before the real information

praise free espeach* and experimentation.

  • thats a peach son

thats a peach


The demo of finless surfing in this clip

makes clear there is no need for new fangled

and revolutionary advancements

to achieve the controled drop on over head


Yeah, no need for anything new, no revolutions, keep it the same, call fins ‘crutches’, and call longboards royboards, make surfing as difficult as possible so that there is still some hard zone where the masses can’t enter . . . . god forbid that surfing become easy. … no status in doing something easy. . . . obscure the truth, quarantine it, relabel it, murder it, create a fog of mystery and myth and pass it off for knowledge. . . it’s a time honoured tradition. :slight_smile:

BTW I think that clip is pathetic, he doesn’t get very far down the line, so what if he can rotate in the whitewater ?


Hey you guys. I’m gunna post a few more pictures of the finished product, then I’ll repost and answer all your questions. I only have a few pictures, my buddy Delaney came by with his camera, because I wanted to show you guys what it looked like in the shaping room. With my little digicam, you can’t really see anything because the flash kills all the shadows- Yuck! But he was still having problems shooting in the cramped space and the low-light conditions. -Carl

A couple more of Delaneys photos. Thanks man. -Carl

Now for some answers! First of all, I just wanted to thank all of you guys for showing interest in the different posts that I do- I don’t really have many people in my day to day life that really care at all about things like this, so it is nice to have somewhere to go and share these kinds of tweako projects that I like to play around with. Sort of my creative vent plug in a way!

reverb- is there anyway you can pass on a name of these videos that you talk about?

9N78W- I doubt it will turn very easy, but it should trim pretty well, I had another board like it, but smaller and that it how it rode- very fast too. I will try to dig up some picture of my other boards later this evening.

craftee- Yes they do, in fact I have a stock “kelp fin” template that I sell through the company I work for. It looks sort of like a football in shape and it is very raked back. I also have an assortment of different extremely raked fins that I have made custom for myself and friends over the years. They work good- but there is something psychological that happens to me when I am surfing fins in lots of kelp- probably flashbacks from all of those years of hitting big clumps and being sent flailing. It is so beautiful to flow over it all and never feel a thing (finless)- with kelp fins, you still feel it, just not as much.

Roy- It will be interesting to see how the board works. I have some alternative theories that I will relay later tonight about how this board will work. Also, you aren’t the only one thats tried out hoop fins- just the only one to make a big deal out of it IMHO. :slight_smile:

Chip- Everyone always asks about the spoon. First of all, it has expanded my mind. It also changed alot of theories I had about board flex. It also completley changed my perception about fins- fin design now ranks above all other things when it comes to conventional board board design in my mind these days. (Yes, I know this is a finless board thread… lol, you can see how thinly I spread myself at times.) I will try to remember to take a picture of the fin that I am running in my board these days. Alot of my design theories are what most people would consider backwards because of the spoon these days. As for riding it- It’s very hard to do, I now know why spoons never really caught on. #1 reason, they are nearly impossible to have any real fun on with more than 2 other people out. I now slink off to a mostly unridden left that I know of, that I can enjoy with only a few out- it’s been ground at alot and repainted… It takes alot of effort to make it flex properly. It’s the kind of board that you don’t really talk about much. Until the person you are talking to has tried the board, it is hard to communicate about it. What might look to the observer as a simple “wave” may be a mind-altering experince to the spoon rider. It’s very hard to convey. Lots of people have asked about it, yet no one else has ever actually took it out. I guess the idea of freezing your ass off chin deep in cold water while 20 guys on shortboards paddle circles around you endlessly isn’t that fun… everything with that board is a hard won battle.

Hootingtubes- Thank you for posting that vid… It really shows how gifted of a surfer Jamie is. Amazing in my opinion… I’ve tried doing exactly what he does in that vid… it’s near impossible. Outstanding.

Roy (again)- Try what Jamie does in that vid sometime.

I’ll post more this evening- Im already late!! -Carl

Hi Carl,

IMHO I am the only one who has properly applied and understood tunnel fins (those 60’s setups were not applied correctly), and do you know anyone apart from John Mellor (who did a very different kind of tunnel from mine) who has developed them in the last 20 years or so ?

Anyway I am wondering if you can see that toed out fins (which are essentially what you are making) will have much the same effect as dragging a bucket ?

Looking forward to hearing about how the board goes, I think that it looks really nice, it’s just that toe out bothers me.

Regarding Jamie O’Brien, I am, sure that what h is doing is difficult, I just think that it isn’t functional and looks stupid, but that’s IMO of course.