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I'm one of those who swear by them. Most of the boards Brian makes are

probably Gorge boards, but he lived in Hawaii for a long time too and

will shape for waves too. He's also been building wide-body light-wind

boards for the past couple of years (light-wind around here meaning

maybe 6.5 wind.) His boards are remarkably easy to sail--they plane

easy, stick to the water like glue when you want them too, jibe smooth,

and are great upwind. Whenever I have to rent, I realize how nice his

boards are.

I've ridden them for about 10 years now, but don't take my word for it.

Recently my brother came out to the Gorge for a sailing trip. He had

rented an Angulo and we went out to Clatskanie, which gets pretty

gnarly above 20 knots. I let him take out my board, and he came back

glowing. On other boards, he felt like he was "just along for the

ride," but with the OO he felt in complete control.

His boards also have a reputation for strength, although I'm not sure

about this newer construction he's started using in the past couple of

years. I met a guy in the Gorge who weighed 230 lbs, his biggest sail

was a 4.7, and he sailed a 7'10" OO, and was a big jumper; in other

words a seriously high-wind dude. He said the boards were"indestructible."

     Glenn Woodell

 

 

    I have to write because I've been so happy with my Open Oceans and with

the service I've gotten from Brian.

   I bought my first OO (8-0) 5 years ago for Gorge sailing. This was a used

PolyRight (lighter version) and I immediately loved it for the typical Gorge

4.7 sailing sessions. Back then I would switch down to my little 7-6 Gorge

Animal as soon as the wind came up to 4.2 or better. But over the years I've

realized how versatile that 8-0 OO is. It's the perfect all around Gorge

board for someone my size (165 pounds). It has become my bread and butter

Gorge board for 4.7 and 4.2. (The little Gorge Animal still rules for full

on 3.7 or higher winds, but the Open Ocean can hang in there too at

3.7 --sometimes I do sail it in 3.7 if the wind is gusty/holey.)  So

basically, I got the OO for cruising through holes in "friendly 4.7" winds,

but I've ended up using this board 80% of the time when I'm sailing the

Gorge. (since for my weight 4.2 and 4.7 covers most of my Gorge sailing).

I'm not inclined to put up with sinking in the holes with the little Animal,

now that I know I can have almost the same high wind control with the larger

Open Ocean and cruise through the holes. On the lighter end of 4.7 I'm less

inclined to go to my bigger wave board since I'd rather pump a few extra

times to get planing and then have a smooth ride than be on a corky

production board that zips along on every little puff but bounces the heck

out of me once I really get going. This translates to more fun sessions and

less rerigging of sails. The OO is the perfect balance for me for getting

through the light spots but not getting too bouncy is the gusts. I guess

it's my knees that have a major say that this is a great board.  And I don't

really lose all that much in the lighter conditions anyway if I just put on

a bigger fin when it's marginal. I've done side by side comparisons with

some larger production boards with the 4.7 and I seem to usually like the OO

best all around for Gorge 4.7/4.2. (For Gorge 5.2 or coastal wave sailing I

do go to my 8-6 wave board though.) I do notice that the OO is not as fast

as a typical production board in the lighter end of 4.7...but I'm happier to

have the smooth riding. And once I'm fully powered I think it's more

advantageous to be on a smoother riding board for comfort, and speedwise it

equalizes out because I can "stay on the throttle" all the time where I

can't do that in the chop with a bouncier "faster" board.

As far a turniness goes, fin selection and placement makes a big difference.

I've found it pays to work with fin positioning relative to the thrusters to

find the sweet spot to get the thrusters and fin working harmoniously for

good turns/carves. I get about 85% of the turniness of my wave board once

I'm dialed in with fin, boom height, and sail balance. I pretty much carve

up the Gorge swells at will with no spin outs. I like the Curtis (now

GSport) fins. (I found non slotted fins are a bit faster and more responsive

and I don't need the slot because I work for balance and effortless sailing

and don't like to rely on a slot to make up for things a bit off.)  I start

with the leading edge of the fin foil about even with the trailing edge of

the thrusters, then move the fin back in 1/8" increments to experiment--yes

1/8" is a noticeable difference. Once dialed in and turny I mark where that

fin is positioned. For marginal to friendly 4.7 I use the Curtis B&J 10"

fin. For well powered 4.7 I use the Curtis Surf 9.25". For typical 4.2 I use

the Curtis Surf 8.75". For maxed out 4.2 the Curtis Surf 8.25; and for 3.7

the Curtis 8.25 slot. Note that with the more vertical B&J fin I move the

leading edge back versus the Surf Fin, and with a Surf Slot fin I move the

leading edge forward (or else the slotted fin doesn't turn very well at

all!) Boom height makes a big difference too. If the board feels sluggish I

raise the boom until it feels zippy and turny.

As far a durability, I'm happy that these boards stand up reasonably well

and even happier that I don't have to worry about dings posiibly letting

water in that will be absorbed by the core. (This is true of Brians new

construction too I gather.) And I also can't say enough good things about

how Brian has taken care of me when repairs have been needed. For instance I

had a severe encounter with a rock that pushed the fin all the way to the

back of the box and sent me flying into my mast causing a dislocated finger.

Anyway the board was still sailable after that impact though it did have a

hairline crack across the tail. Brian did a beautiful job re-glassing the

tail for me for a very reasonable price, and turned it around in 2 days too!

Can't beat that for service.

A few years ago I had Brian make me a full custom new board for when I'm not

in the Gorge, and it handles New England chop beautifully. I love my Open

Oceans. I like staying on the same sail when others are scrambling on the

beach to re-rig.  I've talked to Brian about his new construction now that

Clark Foam is gone and it sounds like things are even better than

before--the boards come out lighter than the older Clark Foam version. or he

can beef it up with extra glass to make the weight a little heavier if you

can't wrap your mind around Open Oceans now being so light.  And as Brian

says, he can make the new ones so strong now for the same or less weight of

the older ones that he may be putting himself out of business if they never

wear out!

--Bob A.

 

 

 

The trouble with custom boards is that they are "made to Order", so there is actually no truly accurate way of telling what volume a particular board is. Each person who purchases an Open Ocean gets to discuss with Brian how the board is to be made. Width, rocker, tail shape, bottom shape, weight of rider, is it to be sailed at the Hatch, or at Stevenson. A 5.0 sail or a 4.2 sail. And to top it all off, volume is not a particularly good way to determine how a board will act on the water, except for when you are slogging. Rocker and width are just as important, if not more so.

 

Thus when you see an Open Ocean for sale odds are that the only way you will find out if the board is appropriate for your requirements, is to buy it and see.

 

If you really want an OO, I suggest that you go and have Brian make you a board. He should be running a special by now, and he will make you a board that you will love, first time. That's what I did, and the first time I rode it I loved it.

 

KMF

 

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