Tools Of The Trade - Nik Baker
The first in a series of articles by John Carter highlighting some of the top windsurfers and their favorite sailing and playing equipment.
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
Top British PWA sailor Nik Baker shows off his quiver of wave boards and various toys outside his house on Maui Hawaii.
BOARD 1(Left to right):
This is my absolute all time old faithful classic. It’s the board I won the Aloha Classic on last year, saying that it did not help me in the first round of the Aloha this year (2000). It is 8’3 by just over 20 and a _. It is just an awesome all round board really. It has got what I call the K66 two rocker on it. It has channels going through under the front straps. I ride it at the moment with an 8 and a _ inch fin. I have had quite a few boards to try and replace it but for some reason I just cant beat this one. I came second in Ireland in the double elimination using this board. It rips in pretty well any size Hookipa. I have tries copying it and all sorts of stuff but just cant make another board as sweet as my old faithful. It is shaped by Richard Greene. I don’t use it too much when I am just practising because I just want to keep the rocker line as it is. The boards are pretty strong but I just don’t want to use it too much. It has been bashed around and it has a few holes in it but it still is a bloody good board. I use anywhere from 4.7 to 5.3 m sail with this board. 5.0m is perfect for this board.
This is an 8’2 by 20 and a _, slightly smaller than my all time classic board. It is the board I used at Jaws on the really, really big day, the first day I actually sailed Jaws. It is supposedly the biggest day anybody has ever windsurfed it. It was actually about a foot and a half to short for that day but it managed to get me around. This is normally the board I use if it is a lot windier at Hookipa. Once we are on 4.5m or maxed out 4.7m it is a lot choppier on the wave. It is a bit smoother through the turn than my other board if the waves are a bit bumpier. This board will ride a big wave, it was not really designed for Jaws more like bigger Hookipa waves. At the time I sailed Jaws I did not have a Jaws board so this one had to do the job.
This is a brand new board. I got this one two days before the Aloha. It is supposed to be exactly the same rocker line as my all time classic. The only thing is that it did not come out the same. It is pretty close but the channels are not quite as deep and through the centre and on the rails of the board it came out a fair bit thicker. It was made by the same shaper Richard Greene. It is 8’3 by just over 20 and a _. It turned out to be really good for light wind 5.3m conditions; it floats that bit better than my old faithful. In the Aloha last year in the last few rounds I was really struggling to float out on my normal board against Robby, this board would of helped me out for those conditions. I used it this year in the double elimination of the Aloha when the wind was light.
I made this just after the Aloha last year where my old faithful Hookipa board was letting me down. It was sinking quite a lot especially with big sails. After the aloha last year I figured I would make a board and get ready for this year so I made a 8’4 by about 21 inch wide with a lot thicker rails and a lot thicker through the centre line so I could virtually uphaul the thing. On last year sails that was the sort of board I needed but then we developed the doctor X sails this year. They are not quite as powerful as the styles more a pure wave sail for lighter guys and much more forgiving. You don’t need quite such a big board and big rails with the new sails. Now I use this board for really light wind at Hookipa or at Diamond Head on Oahu. Diamond Head is a lot slower wave than Hookipa you are not bottom turning at the same speed as you are at Hookipa. You need those big rails to turn off, I guess you call this my Diamond Head board.
That is actually a 7’11 and based on my Baja board, which is a 7’10 from 2 years ago. The only difference to my Baja board is that it is slightly straiter through the outline so that when you are going a bit quicker like on a Hookipa type wave or if it gets really windy, you can hold the rail in a little bit better. It is made for places like Baja or European waves where the waves are a lot slower so you are not doing a full drawn out bottom turn. You just want your board to be fast and really loose so you can turn it literally on the spot without losing speed so it is actually a very snappy board, really a hot doggin good fun board. It is 7’11 by 21 inches.
This is my 8’2 Gran Canaria board. It has got double concaves to make it smoother thyrough all the chop that you have in Gran Canaria. It is designed for high wind, the biggest sail I would use with that one is a 4.4m. It is for 4.4, 3.7, 3.3. 3.0 and 2.9. The width is about 20 and a _. It is not megga narrow it has just got a bit thinner rails. It is a bit thinner trough the whole centre of the board so it does not have quite so much volume. It is made for when you are flat out on a tiny little sail and all that chop from a side onshore wind. It will hold that windward rail as you go up the face of the wave to jump and keep things as smooth as possible.
This is a bit of an old classic, I seem to have a lot of old classics. It was from 1999 designed for Sylt and on shore winds, Sylt really is a very choppy place to sail. It is sort of like Gran Canaria in some ways but it has a lot more current and a lot more turbulence in the water. This board is an 8’4 by 21 and a _. It has a bit more volume and slightly thicker rails than my Hookipa board and it has got very slight single to double concave. In Sylt two years ago, which was the last time we had proper wind there I broke it landing a table top forward, I cracked it round the rail. I landed across a piece of chop hence the repair job on the side. I would still struggle to make anything for onshore that feels so nice. It is a great board. I took it to Ireland as well and used it in some of my heats in Ireland. It is a good competition board for me. I can always jump on it and know accelerate through the bottom, which is really good for onshore.
This is my Jaws board, which is an 8’6 and about 21 inches wide. It is a long board, you need to get a lot more rail in the water because the wave is so big and fast. It has a very slight double concave to help make it smoother off the bottom. Jaws happens so rarely it is hard to test a board like this. I think I have ridden it once at Jaws. When I did ride it actually, it was blowing 4.7m overpowered weather which is about the worst conditions you can sail Jaws in. When you come down the face in that sort of wind it feels really strong and it gets very choppy. To be honest it is not an awesome board. It is a pretty good board but I would rather have it slightly longer and even more gunny. I think my next one will be slightly different.
SURF BOARD 1(far left).
This is a 6’8 by 18 and a _ Al Merrick. I suppose for about 6-foot surf, up to mast high surf, maybe a bit above that. I use this for tow in surfing maybe at Outer Spreks. I have a few Al Merricks and they are all awesome boards, really smooth and really easy to ride.
SURFBOARD 2 (far right).
This is my 7 foot Al Merrick. As you can see on the deck one time when I was off the island Jason Polakow made some alterations to it. I was out on about an eight-foot day at Hookipa and I was rubbing my chest wondering what was wrong. I suddenly realised that Jason had put foot strap plugs in the board. Maybe I would not have minded but he stands the opposite way to me. Even if I wanted to tow surf with it I could not because the strap is the wrong way round. He put that strap in for himself and did not think about anybody else. Even though it was my brand new Al Merrick at the time. Jason has used it many a time.
This is a Yamaha YZ 125 motorcross bike. It is something we got into earlier this year. Jason has been doing it for years and Matt and Kevin Pritchard are also into it. We all decided that it would be good fun, good for training and good for fitness. Also it is an awesome sport to do, really good fun.
SARACEN MOUNTAIN BIKE
It is good to have a bike here on Maui. It is a bit of fun and good for fitness training. I go for rides out in the cane fields or even just ride down the beach to check out what the surf is like.
We have a go- ped here, which is wicked fun. It is broken right now, I broke the chain on it. It is something you can travel around with, it all folds up and you can take it on a plane. As long as you empty out the fuel. Also we do races with these up and down the streets and through the cane fields. They do about 28 miles an hour. They have disk breaks…good fun!
The truck is a 5.2 litre V8 fuel injected Dodge Ram 1500. It’s got some big ass tyres on her and it has been jacked up 6 inches. Alloy rims on the wheels, which cost me about $2000. It’s one of my favourite driving toys!