Over the last 12 months or so, I have been messing around with a couple of boards that could be described loosely as 'Widowmakers' and 2+1 shortboards and they have slowly become the go-to boards for me for everyday surfing here on earth.
I screwed my leg up last year and when I was able to surf again I was a bit heavier and it was about February time, meaning lots of rubber. The combination of these two aspects combined with a lack of fitness and flexibility meant that I knew I would probably struggle a bit on my favourite board at the time - a 5'10 quad, so I came across a 6'6 Doc Lausch 3 fin bonzer which had a bit of foam in it and looked like it would float my bloated, ailing carcass. See here:
I learnt to surf on a 6'6 single fin when I was a nipper, and have had a few shorter modernised singles in recent years, so I liked the feel of the bonzer, but found this one just a tincy bit draggy in small waves. Strictly speaking the Doc was too big for me, so that has anew home. I never got to try it with smaller sides and a bigger centre, which is a shame. However, it was nice to do those of turns that you can only do with a big centre fin, particularly bottom turns, so I got my nose into other things singley/bonzerish and thought the Widow setup would be worth a punt. Most people have seen the footage of Neal Purchase Jnr in Glass Love and after watching it again, it spurred me on to try one.
I talked to Bro Diplock, who has a handle on most things under the sun that could loosely be called surfboards and we decided that a 6'6" x 19 7/8 x 2 5/8 diamondtail single with a modernised vee/single/double/spiral vee bottom and a couple of side bites could be a good start. Forward foil, tucked, shortboardy rails, pretty flat rocker:
I always just assumed that this board would come alive in the chunky, shifty, rippy stuff we sometimes get round here and would be a bit cumbersome in smaller waves, but I have to say, it seems to go well in all sorts of stuff. Not like a shortboard, mind, more like a souped-up single that you can really lean on in turns. Snaps and tight hooks don't feel too natural on this one, but it has that speed and glide you feel on a fish, without the need to constantly be on a rail, like a fish.
Anyhoo... This Widow-ish thing came up for grabs from a mate a little while after and I nabbed it:
It's a 6'5 x 19 1/4 x 2 3/8 Wayne Lynch 'Evolution' (what a weird avenue that was, eh?) rounded pin Widow/2+1. This thing is a lot different to the above board - way more shortboard-like with a fair bit of rocker throughout and pretty foiled all round with lower rails. Even though it's still what I would categorise almost as a 'semi-gun' size, it loves a bowly wave, even a relatively small one and is way more willing to go more straight up into turns. It feels like a very flowy thruster, without being boaty and distant-feeling
The other 2+1 I have is the recently converted (thanks Coxie) B and W 6'2" single. I've yet to try it as a 2+1, but have had it out in a few surfs as a single. It's pretty flat, pretty light, with a modern foil and modern rails. The tail is a single wing pin:
I guess the reason I posted these up is to share my findings and subsequent stoke with these boards. I need to ride the B&W with it's new side fins to see how it goes, but my feeling is that it will share some of the positive attributes of the other two boards; that is, a natural speed and glide that feels like a good fish when you are surfing down the line, but a really smooth, rock solid feeling off the back foot when needed. They also feel great surfing backside, particularly the Lynch.
It's weird - I thought that I had initially made a mistake with the 6'6 diamond, but it's turned into the best board I have had in a few years. I took it to Portugal last September with a load of fins and a screwdriver and just rode it all day in whatever was there, from knee-high rivermouth to solid overhead point and beach waves.
I think the key to the design is the combination of wide point forward or dead centre, which seems to get you up and planing in small stuff and can be 'pushed' off the front foot for speed, with a fin combination that (at least initially) appears to be too much for the board, but is actually giving loads of lift and drive to the rear end without any noticeable drag.
I'm sure there's more going on than that, but these seem to be the key aspects that are shared by each board.
I won't even discuss the fins and various set-ups in this post, as it's long enough already.
Try one, you may like it!