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Mann stands on National Avenue in San Diego; six minutes east of his house, three minutes south of his favorite coffee shop, and two steps to the right of his favorite surfboard. Photo: Firewire


The Inertia

Dan Mann’s morning commute might be about as long as a right at Jeffrey’s Bay.

If his house was the takeoff spot at Boneyards he could get to his feet, fire past the Keyhole, Carpark, and Impossibles before kicking out at The Point, where he would then be at his workshop; the place he spends his days after he’s had a morning surf and an Americano at Cafe Moto. It’s where he builds boards out of carbon and EPS and nearly any other material you can imagine with even remote applications to watercraft.

He is a tinkerer to the core, able to build surfboards and paddleboards and even boats. He can also make surfboards out of trash. Our favorite example is a Chumlee he once made out of discarded bodyboards he pulled out of a Coronado Island waste bin.

This new episode of The Wire Podcast focuses on three of Dan’s most recognizable surfboards: The Sweet Potato (2010) The Baked Potato (2012) and the Chumlee (2017).

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The Sweet Potato, the Baked Potato, and The Chumlee – three different takes on a purely fun approach to surfing, by Dan Mann. Photo: Firewire

Each board has grown a loyal following for different reasons, and each board has plenty of surfers ready to claim it superior over each of the other two.

These three boards actually highlight just how personal surfboard preferences are, because the likelihood of the Baked Potato being your favorite surfboard while your best friend says the Chumlee is their favorite, is strong.

And that is the focus of this episode – all three surfboards are incredibly fun to ride, but they’re also different from each other – Dan, Chris, and Mark each share different favorites, different preferred fins, different opinions, and much more. This is a conversation you’ll enjoy dropping in on, especially if you enjoy dropping into waves on any of these MANNKINE designs.

Before you hit play, here are the short Cliff’s Notes on each shape.

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The Sweet Potato

Where Dan Mann’s groveler journey began in 2010 – The Sweet Potato.

Who Loves It: The purists and the pure fun-ists. Surfers who got their hands on one in 2010 and never let go.

The Best Build: Unanimously, FST. The excessive dimensions and balsa wood rails collaborate to create a sort of hyperdrive of forward motion in junk waves.

The Best Part: “Mate, is there a propeller beneath my back foot? Really though…”

Draw Back: Straight lines all day. If you can angle off the bottom at 90 degrees you deserve an award.

Where To Find It: Craigslist, Gumtree or custom order. This board hasn’t been in heavy surf shop rotation since 2014.

The Baked Potato

Still fun after five years – The Timbertek Baked Potato by Dan Mann.

Who Loves It: Everyone. As popular today as it was in 2012.

The Best Build: Timbertek. It adds inertia, momentum, and that familiar drivey and down-in-the-water feeling to a concave and rail configuration that is designed to create extreme lift on top of the water.

It’s no secret which of these three MANNKINE designs is Ron Schein’s favorite – The Timbertek Baked Potato.

The Best Part: “Did I really just do the best cutback of my life on a six-inch wave? That was so long and drawn out I think I had two birthdays in between turning off the bottom and rebounding in the whitewater.”

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Draw Back: “Feels so lifted and on top of the water that I sometimes don’t feel my waveside rail engaged in the face.”

Where To Find It: Most surf shops worth the salt water that they profit off of.

The Chumlee

Pre-paddle in the parking lot with a HELIUM Chumlee.

Who loves it: Surfers who prefer surfing – pumping, driving, and angling more tightly on rail – more than just quick forward flight and blasting sections.

The Best Build: HELIUM. It’s flex, bend, and soft sensations beneath your feet create opportunities for quick adjustments on the face and a sense that you can fit more turns into a single wave.

The Best part: Surprising versatility on the high end. This board has worked its way into more than a few barrels on four-foot faces.

Draw Back: When it pushes above shoulder high – the speediest and most thrilling ride you’ll ever have across a five-foot wall, with a lot of unexpected hold in the face, as you plan on bleeding speed with a carve down the face that… oh, wait… the tail slipped out during that carve and you’re now cartwheeling under water…. and feinding for another five-foot wall.

Where To Find It: The surf shop up the street from you.

Four-foot wall? Fine. Firewire’s John Curry sets up for a cover up in California on his HELIUM Chumlee.

Each of these three boards was designed to excel when the waves are less than shoulder high, but your favorite will depend on what feelings you like most, the same way that each of our guests in this episode has enjoyed each board at different times for different reasons. And with different fins.

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For more, listen to this new episode of The Wire Podcast on iTunes here. And if you like the intro song in this episode, you’ll find that tune here.

Dan Mann shares much about the HELIUM Chumlee in this new episode of The Wire Podcast.

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