My first alaia board, Mungo Jerry
What you see in the picture is a very different board from the first version I built. The first version was based on drawings of traditional alaias, quite close to Naish Alaia produced few years ago. I wanted to increase the lightwind potential of the board so I built it almost 50cm wide, it was made out of a firwood blank, coated with linseed oil, did not have any epoxy glassings. Initially I even had some footstraps in the front - I was just on my way to ride strapless. Riding was somewhat unusual, the board had a tendency to slip out from under my feet. I decided that the single-concave channel on the bottom was not enough and added some rails to hold the edge better. It was a slight improvement. I also did not like the stubby nose of the original version, it seemed wrong how it was ploughing through water.
Then one day my alaia broke in two halves, the left side separated from the right side. I did some major reshaping of the nose, made it slimmer, applied some glassing to the board to make it stronger, painted it yellow. I also made small fins (just a bit bigger than those on twintips) and added to the board. This really improved handling and the board was much less prone to slipping. Now riding became really fun, great upwind angles and amazing lightwind performance. It does have some quirks in comparison with modern surfboards - one must be more careful not to dig the nose into waves, board's lack of volume makes gybes trickier, but it has a nice and easy feel and can be quite fast.
My second alaia shape, Tarantella
What you see here is my second attemt in alaia-inspired board building. The idea evolved and changed several times during building. My first idea was just to make yet another simple alaia, this time I wanted it to be lighter, narrower (about 39cm wide) and I knew I needed some nose rocker, not much but more than on the first one which had virtually no rocker. So it started as a bunch of thin pinewood boards glued together and then some plywood on the top to get the rocker. Then along the way I had an idea to incorporate some speedboard design features into it, hence the shape of the tail. The resulting board still was quite heavy for its size, so I decided to add some volume for floatation. I shaped the top from a 2cm thick XPS foam and used strips of ashwood for the footstrap holders. I also made 4 small fins - from my previous experience it seemed that the bottom shape did not help much to get the feel I wanted, fins worked much better. I covered the board with several layers of fiberglass, painted it with white marine paint.
So far I haven't tried the board strapless. My current impressions: very easy and nice ride. Despite of having those middle fins the board is playful and turns effortlessly. Goes upwind much better than any twintips, lightwind is very good too since the bottom is very flat (although the board being quite narrow). Ride is butter-smooth in the choppy waters of the lake; tried it also in a choppy sea - landings are a bit harder than on a twintip but handles gusty and overpowered conditions with grace and nice control. Going fast on this board is fun.
One needs to be careful with the nose - at certain angles it can catch a wave and dig in. Also gybing is harder than on a regular surfboard. If I would make another one like this I would probably change these: make nose narrower; more rocker in the nose; some tucked-under in the nose; mid-fins could be few cm longer; make the whole thing from foam to make ir really light. So it sounds I am drifting away from classic alaia designs towards something more modern.