Study Hull: Essex

Study Hull is the beginning of a new photo-journal blog series on Korduroy with Maker Kahana Kalama as he test pilots a variety of surf crafts and shares his insights into the mechanics of each board and how they perform.

I quit surfing twice.  The first was a legitimate competitive burnout from surfing NSSA’s and HASA’s every single weekend as a 17 year old.  It lasted for about a year when I couldn’t resist the gravitational pull back towards the ocean.  My most recent retirement, about 3 years ago, was more a metaphoric one in which I vowed to stop trying to “progress” and instead focus my efforts on relentlessly pursuing fun in the ocean at any cost to conventional wave riding.   And I know I’m not alone in this pursuit.

Never before have their been so many different types of surfers enjoying such a wide array of sea craft.  Any day at the local break you can expect to see the entire gamut of sliding equipment from pop out soft tops and shortboards shaped by seasoned veterans to garage sale single fins and home made hand planes.

With the opening of the Aloha Sunday Supply Co. my fascination with different types of equipment peaked.  I was suddenly in contact with a number of different shapers, groms, legends and friends all with a penchant for riding something unique.  People are on some weird stuff… and I hope it only gets weirder.

Part of the most beneficial component from this departure from conventional surfing is the mental departure from the notion that surfing as an experience is only about being on a wave.  I realize that so much of what I love about surfing is in the in between moments, the discipline it takes to wake up when everyone is sleeping, the moments of solitude between the carpark and the break, mixing it up with all the knuckleheads in the lineup, and the failed attempts at getting your body and board to do what you’re trying to have it do.

Over the course of the next year I’m going to do my best to document these experiences through a series of journal entries entitled Study Hull.  The premise is simple to explore the process of riding something new over the course of one session and to capture those in between moments that make surfing so special.

The 5’3″ Essex by Josh Oldenburg

I’ve known Josh Oldenburg for just over two years and during that time he’s been generous enough to demo out a handful of boards to our shop.  I’ve ridden a number of his eggs, short boards and quads and can attest to the fact that he truly is a dedicated craftsman; intentional about every board he builds.

Earlier this summer we got together to chat about the potential of creating a new shape.  I was looking for something that would get me through a summer in South San Diego.  I put the ball in Josh’s court to create whatever he wanted.  I requested a short, light and weird board and he came up with the Essex.

The maiden voyage on my 5’3″ Quad Essex went surprisingly smooth.  While the Pacific was only serving up a mediocre dose of gutless, belly high surf, the Essex was able to fit through tight pockets and generate a good amount of speed that would more than carry me through the flat sections.  I was still able to put it on rail and even punt a little air if given a proper section.

Understandably the stubby square outline of the board does have its limitations.  It’s almost as though the board doesn’t like any type of sudden movement.  It’s extremely fast and great for trimming but any type of serious bottom turn, or arcing cutback needs to be premeditated and taken slowly.

In any case, the board served its purpose and it more than got me through summer.  If you’d like to get in touch with Josh about ordering or demoing a board email him at –


The opinions and views expressed in this column should not be taken too seriously.  Kahana is in no way a certified surf coach or an expert on surf by any means.  He does not live at the beach and he falls on more waves than he makes.  We highly encourage you to demo a board for yourself and form your own opinion.

photographer: Garrett Highhouse –

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