No B.S. Review
Imagine yourself on a wave with feel and control at your fingertips. Brooklyn artist and surfer David Murphy individually contours these gorgeous handplanes in his East Williamsburg shop at Inner Circle Surfcraft. The idea is you strap one of these to your hand and a good day of body surfing quickly turns into an even better day. You feel the additional glde immediately while gathering speed on the wave. Press down on your hand and you feel added acceleration and control. Pushing your body up creates less drag while elevating stoke. We like these particular planes for their functionality and appearance.
The materials vary since each piece is custom and individually numbered, though mainly consist of South Carolina paulownia with stringers of cedar, mahogany, and walnut. Sustainable and local wood used exclusively. The shapes and sizes are unique but all reflect a genesis of design from continuous test engineering in the Atlantic surf. A variety of squash, pintail, fish, and new designs are used that favor maneuverability and planability. Environmentally friendly marine grade finishes ensure that the good looks won't fade. The interface between your hand and the plane is particularly secure and comfortable. It involves infinite adjustability and comfy wetsuit material to keep you from feeling the tension or hard bits. Besides the fact that they work well you will want to hang it on your wall.
The maker of these planes came up through the skateboarding circuit with the likes of Jeff Phillips and Dan Wilkes. The original prototype for this series was the result of a Christmas rehabilitation of some broken skateboards that he converted into planes for a group of his Rockaway surf buddies. Needless to say they were well received and when he had the opportunity to present his designs in an art exhibition he jumped on it. Thus a new batch was born with premium materials and finishes. The wood is mainly recycled from off-cuts coming from the lightweight wooden alaia surfboards he also makes in his shop. The wetsuit materials used on the straps were generously donated by the ecos at Patagonia. Just looking at these planes you can see the time and care that he put into each one.
I asked David about the R&D process that evolves into the final product. He pointed to a board in his shop he referred to as the Rockaway Floater, which he says started out as a traditional alaia and went through three incarnations. Hoping to improve upon his original shape, he ended up tearing off the glass and redoing it, dunking it in the water again for a surf, before removing the glass again and undergoing a third shape transformation. David says he feels more connected to his equipment that way, when it's exactly what he wants to be riding. “When you're making a board for the waves here, you try stuff out and get a real feel for what works and what doesn't. It's a product of being close to that.”
David is not alone in the world of shapers that consider the breaks off the coast of Long Island home. There is a diverse group that he pointed to including some he has met through a local event held each year called the Fish Fry. Held last May 2011, it featured some of the local heroes producing quality boards including Grey Ghost, Nature Shapes, and more. Surfing has seen a resurgence of popularity as evidenced by the ever-growing number of surfers drawn to beaches with proximity to NYC. As crowded as it gets, the surf community in the area has remained true to its roots and connected to each other.
If you live near Brooklyn and want to know how to make your own, we recommend taking a surfboard class at Third Ward. By the end of the sessions you will come out of it with a finished blank ready to glass and take out for aride. The design will be tailored to exactly the shape you want to make.
See more Inner Circle designs on the website:
You can buy one of the limited edition handplanes here: