Grandmaster Shaper Geoff McCoy, Inventor Of The Lazer Zap, Has Passed Away At 79 - Stab Mag

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Grandmaster Shaper Geoff McCoy, Inventor Of The Lazer Zap, Has Passed Away At 79

“GONE SURFIN’ FOREVER.”

elsewhere // Apr 23, 2024
Words by Stab
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Geoff McCoy, a masterful innovator of surfboard design whose creations shaped the tides of surfing, has died at the age of 79. 

Born in Gosford on NSW’s Central Coast in 1944, Geoff transitioned into shaping after completing a 5-year wood and metal pattern making apprenticeship, and quickly emerged as a seminal foam mower. His designs, often radical departures from the norm, played a pivotal role in the evolution of the modern high-performance shortboard.

Among his creations, the “Lazor Zap” stands out—a visionary “no-nose” design with a tear-drop outline that seemed plucked from a surfer’s most audacious fantasies. It was this board that Cheyne Horan rode to consecutive world title runner-ups in 1981 and 1982. McCoy’s roster also boasted other innovative designs like the “Nugget,” “Quazor Zip,” and “Astron Zot,” each with their own unique quirks and challenges.

In 2018, Geoff told Byron Bay rag Oldschool Resistance the surfer’s with the greatest impact on his shaping philosophy were: Nat Young (rails), Midget Farrelly (plan shape), Gerry Lopez (hold, release). His website slogan reads, “designs for the thinking person” – a nod to his esoteric and jarring futuristic concepts. The site also affirms Geoff could be spotted surfing The Pass, Broken Head and Wategoes well into his twilight years and maintained an active and “hands-on” approach to the management of his bizness.

The surfing historian Matt Warshaw describes the experience of riding the Lazor Zap with a mix of awe and trepidation. To him, the board was both seductive and unruly, “incredibly sexy and futuristic, but skittish and high-floating and drive-free and more or less impossible to ride unless you were Cheyne Horan.” The board’s challenging nature placed it as a thrilling, yet daunting choice against the more predictable twin-fin—each offering a unique ride akin to balancing on soap or an over-inflated air mattress. This era of experimental tumult, however, was quickly overshadowed by the arrival of Simon Anderson’s Thruster, which would cement itself as the board of choice, leaving McCoy’s avant-garde models as fascinating footnotes in surfing’s design history.

In the late seventies and early eighties, McCoy’s influence expanded as his surfboards were sold internationally by brands like Channel Islands and Lost. However, his career faced a devastating turn in 1984 when he lost nearly half a million dollars due to a duplicitous business manager. Following this betrayal, McCoy withdrew to Byron Bay, disillusioned and financially ruined. 

Despite these challenges, McCoy never ceased his craft, continuing to shape boards in a small factory in Tweed Heads, driven more by passion than by profit. To the end, his narrative was tinged with a sense of being crushed by the very industry he had helped to build, yet he remained a resilient and beloved figure within the surf community.

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