Waterman Bernd Roediger, a paddler famous for his smooth downwind style at the Columbia Gorge Race, and for his dominating SUP surfing. More recently we witnessed some serious shredding on a radical new twin fin SUP surfboard. An idea developed purely by an experiment and the drive to push the boundaries of the sport, exactly like the origins of SUP paddling. This type of innovation keeps the SUP sport evolving and pushing new frontiers. Recently signed by Californian brand Infinity SUP co, Bernd talks about his passion for the sport, the new twin fin set up and his exciting new partnership with Infinity SUP!
Hi Bernd, where have you been in these last few months?
Resting haha! I always need 6-8 months of recovery after my one race of the season. It used to be that I would compete in 5 big downwind races between June and August. That included the M2M and M2O races. That was at my peak! But I’m an older man now, lol!
Downwinding was my avenue into SUP, and is still my avenue into what Mihály Csíkszentmihályi calls the “flow state”. This is a state of being where time moves slower, where movements are so practiced they are subconscious in nature, and the world seems to collaborate with you as you flow through it. Nothing could be more fulfilling, and I get warmth just from thinking about it. The competition aspect is just a sprinkling of drama added to an already delicious sauce! And board design is uncanny fun! I’ve finally broken and started testing my favorite dugout boards, so I think next year I’ll ride an Infinity Downtown Dugout, or something to that effect. Working with Infinity is an amazing opportunity, playing around with different boards, in this special medium.
As for surf SUP, the conversation flips from “what am I riding” to “what am I not riding”. Infinity has fuelled my passion for the unique, by allowing me to play with asymmetric SUPs, twin-fins, long and short, wild aggressive concaves and alternative shapes. The possibilities with Dave Boehne (Infinity Boss), are seemingly endless. There are moments in life where you have to sit back and appreciate the fact that your life now is the good-life, the one your younger self anticipated.
We’ve seen you catching some great waves on a Infinity twin fin shape SUP surf board, can you tell us more about this project?
Where to begin… This is a project that’s super personal for me, I feel tied to it in so many ways. It all started 3 years ago when I started making my own twin-fin in my dad’s garage, started because I didn’t have access to any kind of alternative shapes on Maui. My favorite surfers, Mark Richards, Torren Martyn, Dave Rastovich or Rob Machado all rip twin-fins in such a free, floating, ethereally joyful way, and I wanted that. I kept seeing people experimenting when I’d travel to Australia or California, but I’d be marooned from that culture on Maui. This definitely created a dissonance between my environment, the waves and water I loved, and my surfing and the kind of expression I wanted to embody. So I rode homemade surfboards that felt more like a pro-model than anything else I was riding at the time. From the beginning, I felt a connection to the feelings inspired by a twin-fin, it was “my thing” and I just loved it.
At Infinity, individuality is championed. Dave Boehne saw that I had this affinity for twin-fins and wanted to give me the ultimate tool to express that in SUP. I’ve never actually had anyone make a board for me that was so attuned to my style, rather than the needs of the company for which the board served as advertisement. In this way, I feel it to be the purest form of advertising possible. This is my board, I love it. You might have a similar affinity, in which case I implore you to try it, because it will change more than just the way you surf!
What is exciting about this set up?
The board I’m riding is a twin-fin, but that’s a ‘fin’ classification rather than a ‘board‘ classification. Similarly we call short-boards “thrusters” but there are so many different shapes that have three fins. My board is a “Tombstone” shape: short, stubby, and plenty of volume. The width and length allow for the board to carry speed off of a relatively straight/fast outline, while not having the cumbersome length of gun or longboard. The volume ensures you don’t slow down too much in flat/mushy sections. Since the board is so short, pivoting is easy, so you still get to rip in the right areas of the wave. Wide tails like a specific type of twin-fin called “keels” because they serve to carry momentum through turns and provide smooth feedback on a short board. This is what allows such a board to complete satisfyingly fast turns with grace and form. People will refer to such a design as “alternative”, which gives it a sense of obsolescence. I don’t agree with this. The tombstone, the twin-fin; these are all ideas that have been thoughtfully crafted with the same amount of genius as the modern thruster.
What is “new” is the transfer to SUP. Particularly, the problem of standing on such a board. But it turns out, its not really a problem at all. The wide tail, high volume, and straight rocker allows for one of the easiest standing platforms available, outside of touring boards! Of course, we kind of already knew that, seeing the foil-SUP community standing on impossibly short foilboards. Width in the tail = stability where you need it most!
The twin-fin set up is fun, free, it will make you smile with delight. Is it perfect for everything? No, it won’t hold well in an 8ft sub-sea-level tube. But it will fly in most everything else! Slower faces, flatter sections, mushy days and the evermore-enticing uncrowded peaks far from the angst of main breaks. These are the conditions in which a twin-fin soars. Someone who is looking to have fun on a SUP will appreciate a twin-fin.
Will it be available to SUP surfers soon?
After debuting the board at the North Carolina Pro-Am, I imagine Dave has gotten a few requests for Infinity “Tombstones”. As Infinity is a custom brand, its just a matter of asking, Dave will deliver. As far as a production model you might have to wait, which is a good thing. We need some more consumer reports on custom models before we pull the trigger on a “one size fits all” twin-fin. The variations on a twin-fin board are as numerous as any other traditional shape, the tombstone being just one, and so it’ll take some tuning to find the board that will serve the market best.
Why is it great to work with Infinity SUP and Dave Boehne?
I’m glad that you asked! You know it’s super common for there to be a lot of hype and optimism around an athlete when they move to a new team. People want to know, from the athlete, what’s exciting to them about the new sponsorship. Interviews and exchanges tend to follow a trend in that way. Frankly though, new sponsorships are always cool, like new romances. It’s a year in, or in my case a year and a half, where you start to see the relationship rather than the infatuation. People like Dave, who’s worn many hats in the industry, understands this. Our first few months collaborating were almost stealth in how low key we played it. I’d never been on a team that didn’t want to immediately capitalize on this “honeymoon phase”, usually by overhyping and over-promising. Instead, my time on Infinity has been a slow burn, and I feel like I’m just now coming into my role as a team-rider. It feels really good, I had so much time to feel out the boards, the team, and the support, to really know if this was right for me. I’m really looking forward to a great winter season riding some fantastic custom boards, and hopefully a packed summer of races and clinics!
So what is next for Bernd?
APP events have already been postponed for next year, which is a pretty heavy hit, especially for SUP surfers who have little to no alternatives for large-scale competition. My focus will play to my strengths, and what makes me happy. Over the course of the past tumult, I’ve found my passion for water extending beyond performance. There’s an inclusive/community element that I have been turned-on to through traveling and competing.
I’m following that feeling more and more, I plan to hold clinics for surfing, paddle technique, and really anything! Something I go into after doing some coaching with Ted Schatz at Gorge Performance, before and after the Gorge Paddle Challenge, I came to think of these water sports differently. Ted’s a professor of kinesthesiology, his study of movement is akin to the study of liberal arts. His approach to teaching a sport is that of the best teachers in the world, those who offer a path to higher knowledge and the means to attaining it. I really admire that. Most paddle clinics rattle off some fundamentals and call it good. But there are coaches, like Ted -and I’d add my dad to that list- who help you explore your own technique, your own learning curves, and provide you with a roadmap to self-improvement!
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