The Oompa was designed start to finish between one shaper’s desire to experiment with new templates and one rider’s frustrations.
First thing you should know is why this board was designed the way it was. I was tired of these oversized groveller boards that created tons of speed in average waves but refuse to snap a lip without having to throw out my back or pull a groin to do so. They tended to get stuck on a rail, so when the occasional section would steepen up there was too much delay to get the board to snap off the bottom in time for a tight top turn. I was also disappointed when in the presence of bowled out sections I’d have to wheelie my way down the face with flapping arms to stay centered over the low rocker deck. This effect was due to the tail and nose being too flat to allow a proper re-entry into the wave’s transition, rather than fit the curve of the wave’s pocket the board would stick out and force you to ride with all your weight shifted back or on your neck after pearling down into the flats. There were far too many cons than pros for me to ride these alternative boards much longer. Larry Ricci (South Coast Shaper and Shaper of my boards for over 3 years now) wanted to try and make something new so I shared my frustrations of current models with him in hopes of getting a more refined version of these trendy boards. We worked together on this one design for over a year doing our best to try and bridge the gap between the alternative weird shortboard and are typical fun-day ripstick.
My typical performance thruster is
5’10 x 2 1/8 x 18 ¼.
I wanted less swing weight in the nose so we chopped it down 3 inches. To compensate floatation we went 1/8 of an inch thicker at center and about 1/4 of an inch wider but left the rails thin to allow bite and precision in turns. This new design was 5’7 x 2 ¼ 18 ½. I didn’t want a flatter rocker; this board was meant to be surfed vertical in the pocket, not down a mushy line for a cutback. Waves, big or small, have a vertical pocket where a shortboard is meant to be surfed and this board was to be no different. The tail and nose are considered neutral in rocker compared to most boards but when you ride the same profile you’ve been riding with 3 less inches in-between the result is a highly responsive alternative shape.
The Oompa runs a fuller rail at the midpoint then tapers down to a knifed performance shortboard tail thickness. This allows you to flow the board through flat or racy sections with ease by having a high concentration of foam under the front foot. The harder you push down on the front foot, the more the board wants to squirt forward and ideally bounce off the bottom. The difference between the Oompa and these other alternative board shapes is the foil in the tail. The tail is just as thin as any performance shortboard. You can stomp your backfoot, submerge the squash with ease and pivot tight off the bottom to go for the sneaker lip that comes out of nowhere. The nose and tail kick eliminate having to wheelie back into sections or pearling down a hollow face. The shorter rail line lets you fit into corners your normal board might feel too long and clunky for during waist high windswell. The Oompa runs a very mild triple concave (A double concave between the fins which lies within a larger single concave through the majority of the board).
The template for the tail is slightly wider so adding that little spine between the fins lets the board transition more fluidly rail to rail; say goodbye to “sticky rails” and start nailing that last second closeout hit from each wave.
I’ll ride this board almost the same way I ride my shortboard. Let the wave build up to a wall in front of me, take a high line then drop it straight down using my front foot to force the thicker deck down the face. You can drive this board around a long section with a lot of pumping but it’s much more suited to straightening out into the flats and snapping off the bottom at a 180 for a quick lip slap. Don’t fret about getting stuck behind the section; the extra volume keeps you a bit higher above the water so upon reentry the Oompa can glide right around most sections that would otherwise cripple your length of ride. For the more progressive guys this shape has an insane amount of release, the shorter rail line translates to blowing out the tail and reversing turns your with the same effort of normal turns on a standard shortboard. Less mass to push around means less resistance, so start trying to surf above the lip since your rotations are going to spin a lot faster. If you surf with more power than tech start your turn a little sooner take some pressure off the tail in order draw the turn out from as much rail as possible.
Fin choice for any board is a very personal choice. It’s dependent on style, ability and wave condition.
My general rule of thumb with these smaller high volume boards has been to run bigger fins at the rail. There’s already less board in the water and without a bigger fin you’ll most likely feel a bit squirrelly when you try and hit the gas. I prefer the K2.1 setup in most beach breaks; the larger rail fins have extra surface area for more hold as you drive down the line while their lack of rake creates tight arced turns. The center fin is a bit smaller and balances out the extra hold with quick release at the lip, other fins that are of similar style from F.C.S. GAMs, AM-2s, and the newly released JW-1s.
What works for me however doesn’t work for everyone, so don’t be afraid to toss my advice out and try something completely different. Make yours a swallow tail, add a Vee at the tail, do a double barrel concave, toss some channels on and make it glow in the dark. That’s part of what the Oompa’s entire creation was about, stepping outside of what you’re told is possible and going for something you’re not even sure is there. Most importantly really talk with your shapers. There are a lot of untapped ideas that never get put into action as too few are willing to experiment, so next time you want to ride something different ask your favorite foam mower what they’ve been waitng to shape.