A short by Ryan Thomas
Camera: Matt Shuster
Surfer: Ryan Burch

Words by Ryan Thomas
July 10, 2010

“Burch isn’t content living vicariously through the media and complaining everything's already been done. He needs to FEEL history for himself. If you look back at the time line of surfing, every significant breakthrough has come from this mindset." —Cyrus Sutton

Tweakin’ on Boards with Ryan Burch was shot in 2009. Seems like a second ago. Seems like forever ago. Reality is… it doesn’t matter. Both Cyrus Sutton and Matt Shuster had been telling me about Ryan Burch until, one day in early Spring, I met him in Encinitas, California for a surf and to talk about boards on his side yard as Shuster manned the video camera. Burch’s sessions in Tweakin’ on his self shaped finless “Wrongald McDonald” board and the sub-5-foot Hydrodynamica “White Pony” Simmons-Fish were filmed that day. I bought the second “White Pony” from Richard Kenvin the Summer of ’08, and brought it with me for Burch to try (The same board was later borrowed by Tyler Warren for eight months and inspired the “Bars of Soap” he’s been recently shaping). Prior to this Burch had looked at Bob Simmons’ boards at the Surfing Heritage Foundation in San Clemente. He was aware of Richard and his Simmons inspired Hydrodynamica surf film and boards, but they’d neither met, nor had Burch ever ridden one of the Hydrodynamica boards. It wasn’t long before I passed along Burch’s phone number to Richard and the surfing that has taken place as a result of their friendship is not only mind blowing, but also surf history in the making.

Anyone who’s been paying attention to film projects in the works like Richard’s Hydrodynamica and Cyrus’ Stoked and Broke will tell you: Tweakin’ falls short of where Burch is at now. True. Tweakin’ predates Burch’s future-primitive exploits on the rudimentary looking, finless, rectangular plan shaped, square railed, flexible, un-glassed pieces of closed-cell foam now referred to as Lord Boards. Burch’s sessions in Tweakin’ on the Sauritch Thruster, Wegener Alaias, self shaped Twin Keel Fish, and self shaped 5’7” finless Planing Stubby (with single-fin box option) were all filmed on occasions from Winter through Summer. Burch’s 5’7” finless Planing Stub, the last board he’s seen riding in Tweakin’, is the board he was riding most frequently right before he chopped the nose and tail ends off a closed-cell foam blank, that Autumn, and decided to take the rectangular chunk of foam for a slightly pessimistic surf— only to surprise even himself of its potential and immediately turn Lucas Dirkse and Eric Snortum on to it.

“I’m in my 40th year of surfing in San Diego and I've been through every stage of jaded disillusionment with the place. Ryan is like an antidote for all that stuff. He's a muse and an inspiration. When he's surfing his foam chunks I'd rather be on the beach filming him... he's so fun to watch. I don't think I'll ever see that kind of spontaneous outburst of creativity in surfing again in my life.” —Richard Kenvin

Tweakin’ is a simple document of a young open mind on its way to new places— all without loosing sight of the validity of the Thruster. Upon his recent return from a trip to Central America, I asked Burch, “What’d ya ride most down there?” His reply… “Shortboard Thruster, Asymmetrical Keel/Quad and Lord Board.” In another recent conversation he and I were laughing about “hi-performance” being a term most commonly used in reference to shortboard Thrusters. It happens, it’s just comes out of the mouth that way for ease of conversation. It even slips from Burch’s tongue in Tweakin’. We were laughing about the ambiguity of that term. What really constitutes a hi-performance surfboard? The least of hasty generalizations would be: A hi-performance surfboard is whatever board best helps an individual to surf/perform as he/she wishes. Surfing, after all, at its best is an experience of personal freedom, not an activity bogged down and mastered by rigid doctrine. Tweakin' excerpts #1 and #2 (vimeo.com/13258714) are from an important period of Burch’s evolving experience.

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