The Shaper Will See You Now - Stab Mag

The Shaper Will See You Now

Why digital surfboard consults are genius.

Words by Ethan Davis

Surfboards are expensive and buying the right one is important. A new off-the-rack blade can cost anywhere between $800-$1200 — a non-trivial cost that can be justified at most once or twice a season. Surfboards are confusing, there’s a lot of variables that go into determining how a board works, and most of these variables are not intuitive to the layman.

James Cheal from Chilli surfboards has a wealth of experience in designing custom surfboards to suit every level of surfer. For over three decades he’s designed boards for multiple World Champions (Kelly Slater, Adriano de Souza, Mick Fanning, and the late Andy Irons to name a few) to the average weekend warrior and everyone in between. 

With lockdowns and restrictions limiting face-to-face interactions in their Mona Vale headquarters, Chilli Surfboards decided to transition their offerings online. In addition, they decided to launch a new service, a digital custom consultation with James Cheal himself for a modest premium of $75. 

Why is this new model genius?

Well for one, customer-centric approaches are critical to customer satisfaction. Being able to talk with a world-class shaper about your surfboard makes you feel fucking special. Independently of how the board actually works, making this offering public, which has previously been restricted almost exclusively to team-riders, is a super exciting opportunity and a good way to make customers viral. 

Two, paying extra for a consult might seem like an indulgence, but a small premium to pay for a more calculated and personalized board is invaluable. Many of us have felt the heartbreaking pain and denial that comes with buying a new board that just doesn’t work. Too big, too small, wrong litreage, wrong conditions… The margin of error on customs without expertise is large. A consult with an expert is insurance and a gesture of the more learned investor who doesn’t count his chickens. 

Thirdly, designing a board with a world-class shaper with two-way feedback informing the design process means extraordinary attention to detail. From fins, rails, outlines, blanks, glassing and so on, every aspect of the construction can be refined to give you a better shot of nailing your custom. There’s also something sentimental in there. You kind of made a surfboard baby. 

In a pandemic world, the value proposition for remote digital surfboard consults is strong. From anywhere in the world, you can now share a screen with James and build a board that you’re more likely to enjoy. Beat them to the punch while the premium’s only $75 I reckon.  

Contact [email protected] for more info


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