Free Radicals Blog – Featuring Daniel Thomson and a Focus on Design
Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 30 April, 2014 - Daniel Thomson and Richard Kenvin got together to assemble a creative blog that focuses on the evolution of surfboard design and progression of performance. There isn’t meant to be much structure, rather quite the opposite. The collective purpose of the posts and content is to foster thought and creativity and do it in a fun way. Check the video below of Daniel shredding a few small ones and the letter about their vision from Richard Kenvin.
“Welcome to Free Radicals, where highbrow meets lowbrow on the Salty Seas of Then and Now–meaning content for a variety of attention spans. Captain Daniel Thomson is steering this ship, I’m keeping the log. We’ve been on a voyage for the past ten years, and now we’re gonna start making dispatches here. Any authoritative voice on this blog is meant to acknowledge someone or something in a relevant context, and perhaps be educational. We are not assuming that you don’t know it already.
I suppose if this blog has a mission it is to document, explore, and inspire a new design paradigm in high performance surfing. To geek-out on new boards that have evolved through a deep connection to the past, and bear witness to some next level shredding on next level surfboards. Maybe drop a few relevant and inspiring historical nuggets here and there.
I first met Daniel in Australia in 2004 through his dad, Mark Thomson. I shared a couple of Steve Lis style fish boards with Dan, and he really took to the design. Daniel ripped fishes like short boards. Fast, smooth, and powerful, but the lines he drew were a little stretched out and horizontal compared to a thruster.
Which was aesthetically very pleasing. Both Daniel and I were (are) dyed in the wool thruster surfers, with undying respect for Simon Anderson. That being said, we (like a lot of surfers) were looking for a way to create designs that combined the speed and flow of a fish with the technical precision of the thruster. We found that the dual keel hydrodynamic planing hull designs of Bob Simmons from the 1940s helped point the way to achieving this goal.
10 years after those first fish sessions in Australia, Daniel is closer than ever to realizing this elusive blend of speed, control, and maneuverability in his designs. He calls his new boards modern planing hulls, which is a direct nod to Simmons. Daniel’s Vanguard, Vader, and Nano designs (which are now being produced under license by Firewire and therefore accessible to a lot of surfers) are the boards most people are familiar with. They evolved out of an extensive survey and study of dual-keeled planing designs of the past, particularly the planing hull designs of Bob Simmons from the late 1940s. By laying off conventional short boards and spending the last 10 years riding Simmons inspired designs, in all kinds of conditions, Daniel, like me, began to see board design from a new perspective.
Now, at this point, there is so much to tell I don’t really know how to do it without writing a hundred thousand words. Sweeping generalizations don’t suffice, and there are too many details. That’s what this blog is for, to fill in the details along the way, over time, from the distant past to right now, today. Not from second or third parties, but right from the source.”