For the summer, I’ve been living out of a 1978 Toyota EZ Rider RV on the Oregon coast, surfing, hiking and enjoying a moment in my life where I’m not in school. Throughout the summer, I’ve been working with 9:Fish Surfboards to review several boards within their line here on Gear.com.
9:Fish, a surfboard manufacturing company based out of southern California, has been designing and producing surfboards for over 4 years now. Owners/Engineers/Surfers Sunny Trinh and Wes Negus had 2 things in mind when they started 9:Fish surfboards: designing a surfboard based on engineering principles, and designing a board that would catch more waves, which means more fun!
9:Fish- A History
9:Fish began its evolution when Clark Foam, a well known manufacturer of the foam used inside surfboards, shut down in December of 2005. When materials became scarce, the cost of surfboards skyrocketed, with your average fish surfboard costing almost double what it would have pre-Clark Foam shut down. Wes and Sunny, surfers and engineers, set out to make a surfboard that was more affordable and still a ride-able, fun board.
Throughout the design evolution of 9:Fish boards, the owners had a few things in mind. They wanted a board that was fun to ride, a board that was more conducive to learning/novice surfers than a shortboard, something that was smaller and less cumbersome than a longboard, and a board that would perform in a variety of conditions. They set out to create a paddling friendly, wave catching profile that any surfer could have fun on. Owner/Designer Sunny Trinh will be the first to say, 9:Fish is not a hardcore, performance only surf company. 9:Fish is geared towards those who surf for the fun of it!
After looking at their list of “requirements” for board design, 9:Fish decided they would do one thing, and do it well: they would make fish surfboards. Historically, fish surfboards were small wave, summer boards. 9:Fish sought to change that stereotype and make a board that was fun in all conditions.
They started with four prototypes and took those board all over, seeing how they performed in different conditions. Owner Sunny Trinh was able to surf 9:Fish’s 6’2 Seared Ahi at Sunset Beach on Ohau’s notorious North Shore in dumping triple overhead conditions, and also at the mellow, knee high waves of Waikiki, and have fun in both places on the same board! This type of versatility in a board is unheard of, so 9:Fish knew they’d nailed it. They stuck with that design, and began manufacturing surfboards.
9:Fish now makes a range of surfboards, stressing that they have something for everyone. While the pro surfers may be ripping on shortboards, that type of board isn’t for everyone, and 9:Fish realizes that. They are a “beginner friendly” company, a rarity in the surfing industry, and are just looking for all their riders to have fun.
“Our goal is to catch more waves. Catching more waves means having more fun. We’re not about ripping the hardest or looking the coolest. We’re about having the most fun.” -Sunny Trinh, 9:Fish Owner
9:Fish- Making waves in environmentally friendly surfing
As a sport, surfing is somewhat of a tragic irony. Although surfers are arguably some of the most “in touch with nature” folks I know, the process of making surfboards is one of the more toxic processes out there. The production of foam has multitudes of harmful effects on the ozone (see the EPA’s website for information on foam and acceptable, less toxic substitutes), and foam is the core of most surfboards. Epoxy, fiberglass, resin… None of this stuff is nice for Mother Earth, and yet necessary for surfboard production. A sad, yet true dichotomy between surfer’s love for nature and their tools continues to exist.
When 9:Fish started shaping boards, they wanted to be sure to mitigate the harmful effects of surfboard production in as many ways as possible. Currently, 9:Fish’s production warehouse exceeds Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards in regards to employee safety and waste disposal. This means added air filter systems to filter dust during shaping, sanding and laminating, activated carbon filters to treat paint vapors, and solid waste recycling.
Even more eco-conscious and forward thinking than just meeting and exceeding standards, 9:Fish has another environmentally thoughtful project up their sleeve. 9:Fish is currently working with Harvey Mudd College to develop the worlds first recyclable, resin free, fiberglass free surfboard. With this, the world of surfing has almost come full circle, looking much like the early days of surfing, when redwood planks were the board of choice. However, 9:Fish’s new development won’t weigh 70lbs, and will surf just like a board developed using today’s shaping and engineering knowledge. So far, they’ve made three prototypes that ride great! The next challenge is how to make those prototypes into wave catching machines with a friendly price point. 9:Fish is dedicated to finding a solution, so I don’t doubt they’ll get there.
For more information on 9:Fish, or to start having fun on a fish of your own, scope the 9:Fish website, or feel free to give the guys a call at 1-877-9Fish-SB. Frank, Sunny or Wes will be happy to answer all your fishy questions.
Also, be sure to check out Gear.com’s current selection of surf apparel and accessories!