We interviewed Sean Enoka on the stellar Bula Handboard shape, and the thought process that went into making one of the best handboards of all time. Sean takes us behind the scenes for the inspiration for this epic shack machine.
Steve: How long have you been handboarding for?
Sean: Handboarding for about nine years. When I first got back into bodysurfing, I grew up bodysurfing Sandy Beach. Sandy Beach is where all the kids come, as you guys can see. Weekends, this is where it's at. When you're a young kid, you come hang out at the beach with your friends, jump in the water. Plus there's girls all along the beach.
Steve: So it's a bonus.
Sean: It's a really tough life to grow up in Hawaii. So this is what we do over here and then when I got back into bodysurfing, I started with a Redwings Cleaver, and then I went through the progression of trying to figure out what was good, what was working. From a Redwings Cleaver, I used to use these web gloves, I used this little handboard that were made out of little plastic and some concave.
In Hawaii, or I think just bodysurfing in general, once you witness or experience Point Panic, that unlocks something as far as what you see is possible for bodysurfing. So I started hanging around over there. And then you see the handboards and all the different gear. Everybody has got a different style, because your board is different, right? My board is different from your board. So the style might be same, but everybody's board is different. Throughout the progression of getting into handboard, I started to learn about the concave shape.
Kaleo Galarza, who I believe is the best handboarder in the world, he had a board like this, shaped like this, but it was made out of plastic, so it was really light, but it kind of scratched you if it touched you and stuff like that. Then what happened for me is that I started seeing a lot of people making handboards and sending them over. There's a movie that came out that I'm sure you guys and everybody is familiar if you're a bodysurfer, Come Hell or High Water, and that kind of started putting things up on the map. It kind of helped to spark a movement.
Steve: Absolutely, yeah.
Sean: It did over here, and I believe that it did in California and in the media. So I started to learn how to shape boards. There is a guy who taught me in Panic, he's one of the OG guys his name is Alvin Sacarai and he's been shaping these boards forever. Then I started shaping boards. I made about 50 boards. With this particular board, the demo board was Generation 3, number 9.
And then I hooked up with you guys because in making the handboards shapes, I wasn't satisfied with the consistency of the quality. I could make some really good boards, but some boards had minor imperfections, especially when you're trying to give it out to people and they're paying their hard-earned money for it, you want it to be perfect for them.
So when I saw what you guys were making with the wedge model, and although the wedge model is a little bit bigger for my style of riding, the manufacturing was there. That's when I called you guys and we got together. I am super stoked with what's happening with this because it's the shape.
The shape is just based on concave, concave because I found that at Panic's and at different places like Pipeline, even though the worst part about bodysurfing is your 90% drag. What the handboard helps to do is lift you out of the water, so instead of 90% drag, maybe it's down to 60%, especially if you're coming down on a steep face.
And then with the concave, it's just what I saw from Kaleo. Kaleo would stall high on the wave until he absolutely needed all of his speed, then he would disengage, slide down the wave, get as much speed as he could, and then bottom turn to get back up the wave again.
Sean: Yeah, I hope everybody likes it. The manufacturing is top-notch. It's a little bit thicker, but that thickness allows for the GoPro. The GoPro, that's the killer part. I've sampled this and I've shown you guys some GoPro footage that I've caught, not only of different perspectives, but just having it there and if you got a $400-investment on you board, you want it to stay on there. The Slyde Bula is top-notch.
The strap, one of the most solid and comfortable that I've come around. It's not going anywhere. There's two positioning - a little bit forward, which the boys in Hawaii really like; and a little bit back.
Steve: Yeah, if you want to choose that, right?
Sean: Overall, the design is about lift and control, so when I lift myself out of the water, I can stall myself up, and then when I drop down, especially when you drop down, if you got a face, just dig it in like this and then you're set.
Sean: You're set to just get that ultimate vision of the Barrel
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