Jeff Alexander’s patented, double-nosed surfboard design burst onto the scene a few years ago like a vaudevillian nightmare. Everyday surfers reeled, pros shook their heads in disbelief and purists seethed with prejudicial rage. Despite the reaction, however, a cult of ardent separatists stood behind the concept: two noses blending into a conjoined hull and ending with two, twin-fin clusters close to each rail. If the buzz was brief, with only a few sightings out in the line-ups, it was enough to make surfers, shapers and geneticists shudder.
Yet, regardless of support or lack thereof, Alexander, an Imperial Beach local, believed he had bred a superior species, destined to deliver people from the single-hull dark ages. And now he says it’s only a matter of time until people see the light.
The Gemini project-taken from the Latin gemin, plural of geminus or twin-has been refined over the past few years to give maximum speed, the ability to surf bigger waves with a smaller board and a sense of freedom inherently impossible with a Thruster. To the traditionalist, regardless of superior performance, it’s the surfing equivalent of unethical breeding science gone awry. Alexander doesn’t care. “It will change your life,” he says. “The only question is ‘Are you ready to step up?’”
Through endless trial and error and overwhelming ridicule, Alexander, now 44, has spent every waking hour getting all the bugs out. What he has now is a board that’s faster because of added rail constantly in the water, looser because there’s more concave at the groin of the noses and throughout the board, and more stable rail to rail because of the independent twin-fin clusters. “It drives like a twin-fin but it doesn’t spin out like one,” he says. Plus, he justifies the $600 price tag because one 6′ 4″ Gemini can perform in conditions from three-foot Oceanside to eight-foot Pipe, thus eliminating the need for a quiver of thrusters.
Next on Alexander’s palette are Gemini guns and tow-in boards, which has perked the interest of chronic experimenter Brad Gerlach. “I haven’t tried one yet,” he admits, “but I appreciate that Jeff is committed to designs apart from the status quo, so I’m into testing it out.”
Alexander affirms the theory is proven. “I’m over the Thruster,” he says, “and I’m glad I hung on to my design.” The only kink not quite worked out is public approval. Until surfers are ready to adopt the abnormal, despite its claim to open up a whole new and superior dimension of surfing, the Gemini will remain a freak of nature.
- Carl Friedmann