Six years ago I bought a longboard off of Craigslist. It was a Robert August Precision longboard, 9’6″ in length. I bought it from a salty sea princess who lived on a boat in Gig Harbor. She kept the board on the deck of her ship, perhaps a reminder of her better days. In any case, I bought the sun damaged board for about $ 200 and crossed my fingers it would not snap in two on my first wave. Turns out, it was the best board I have ever owned. I caught so many waves on it. Overhead, knee high, etc. I have never had as much fun on a surfboard than that one. The beauty of the board was that it was such a beater, but it was rock solid. Then, two years ago, I sold it.
Why did I sell it? I was in a “Surfers Journal” mood and concluded that my surfing had come to a standstill and that I needed to sell that board in order to advance my surfing. At the time I felt so mature and beyond most of my surfing peers. I replaced it with a solid 10′ Dewey Weber longboard that was in mint condition that would surely advance my surfing. It was from the 60’s and I found it in the rafters of a building in downtown Seattle. Score! My first session on that gem resulted in me falling hard and having that board drive into the side of my thigh giving me a charlie horse that lasted two weeks. Da Bull I was not. It was at that very moment that I realized I made a huge mistake selling the Robert August. Immediately I searched for the number of the person who I sold the Robert August to and could not locate it anywhere. I was heartbroken.
I needed to find something similar, fast. I set up a Craigslist alert and started obsessing about replacing my board. I could not remember the shape of the Robert August (Precision) at the time, all I knew is that it was a Robert August and that it had two red stripes in the design. Searching Google I found the Robert August Wingnut board and decided this was the closest thing to my dearly missed R.A. The shape was more narrow than my memory of my board and the reviews I had read suggested it was not going to be a similar experience than I had. However, the reviews also said that the Wingnut version was easier to turn and went rail to rail effortlessly, so I narrowed down a replacement to this shape.
I am going to spare you the failed eBay and Craigslist transactions (there were many). The biggest hurdle was finding this specific longboard in Washington (nearly impossible). I called Big Al at The Westport Surf Shop and asked if he had a Robert August for sale. He tried to talk me into a similar shape for a less price that “works just like a Robert August.” I know he was just trying to save me money which I appreciate but HE JUST DOES NOT UNDERSTAND! The other challenge was shipping a board to Seattle (if I were lucky enough to find one). A longboard exceeds many familiar shipping companies (Fed Ex, etc) maximum length policies. Shipping direct with air cargo (Alaska Airlines, etc) is not an option unless you go through a freight forwarder (aka middleman “known shipper”). So you have to first find the board, then convince the seller to help you identify a shipper who can facilitate the delivery, have them pack it, etc. I got lucky. I found the board on Craiglist Orange County and it just so happens that the seller has a relationship with Hobie in Orange County and was able to ship it via their resource. After the dust settled, I paid $875 (shipping included) for the Robert August Wingnut I Longboard (in mint condition) that included a fin and a day bag. At that point, the cost did not matter. I was like a junkie needing a fix.
Earlier this month I took my new board to Westport for my first surf. The surf was liquid glass and small which provided the perfect testing ground for my new board. The Wingnut I was much lighter than my previous R.A. and it turned on a dime with little effort. The lighter weight also made it a little harder to paddle into waves (vs a more traditional longboard). It feels like it can handle bigger surf better due to its agility. It paddled fine, but not great. The lack of float and volume is compensated by its ability to turn quickly and go rail to rail with little effort. In time, I bet that this board will win my heart. To be fair, I was not immediately warm and fuzzy with my first Robert August longboard. Speaking of my first Robert August Longboard, as I was exiting the water, my attention was drawn to the jetty about 500 yards away. I saw that familiar golden hue that I had been searching for. Could it be? The closer I got, the more my heart started to smile. It was in fact, the woman who bought my board!
We talked story for a bit and she confirmed what I already knew, that she was catching a ton of waves and loved the board. It was then that I saw the smile on her face. It was a similar smile that I had when I carried the same board under my arm. The story should end there and the sun should set right? Closure obtained? Hells no! I got her number and immediately texted her, making her promise to sell the board to me when she was ready to. I hope to one day be reunited with the one longboard that brought me so much joy. Until then I will learn to love my new Wingnut.
I bought that same beater model wingnut very beaten about 12 years ago after having little success getting back to the waves on an 8’6” Robert August. It’s true, it’s heft makes for smooth gliding while paddling and it’s dynamic as a longboard…at nearly 71 years old, I still love it…and Cocoa Beach is a lot more forgiving and warmer than Santa Monica and the West Coast of my youth…
Smooth gliding is underrated! Way to still get at it, Russell! How do you stay surf fit? Any tips are appreciated. Take care and stay stoked!