Stab Magazine | What Are You Riding Right Now?
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What Are You Riding Right Now?

Letter From The Editor: Have you abandoned the overseas or off-the-rack model for the custom handshape? 

hardware // Jan 12, 2018
Words by stab
Reading Time: 5 minutes

Hello, lovers.

That cold, hard facts could be controversial should be no surprise to anyone alive and semi-literate in 2018. The Age of Fake News has opened the door for criticism and questioning of even the most accepted stats.

After releasing our feature on the Best-Selling Surfboards Of 2017, tirelessly reported by Jake Howard using numbers ripped from surf shops and major board brands the world over, a sprawling discussion commenced in the Comments section, with one of surfing’s most brilliant and contrarian board builders, Maurice Cole, bringing up a host of issues, not least of which the piece not mentioning or taking up the subject of the reemergence of handshaped surfboards as a cottage industry. 

Which of course wasn’t the point of the story, but we’ll bite.

Here are a few of MC’s nuggets (all sic):

On the general thrust of the piece:

What a load of bullshit!

The downturn in the USA , started in early 2016 , when retail surfboard sales fell 50% , and have continued to fall.

There were too many boards on consignment etc, and the shops were full of product that the consumer didn’t want anymore.

You touch on Epoxy/tech glassing , made in Asia being a problem for local markets , but it’s now plain to see that big brands such as Lost/CI/Firewire have shot them selves in the foot by first being critical of Asian made boards , then after watchin the success of the Hypto Crypto, greed set in and now you have Asian made Epoxy /EPS models from all the brands who make them cheap and sell them expensive.

The real reason for the Asian Epoxy boom is the price of labour, and the cheap shitty EPS that’s used as a core. PU blanks are at least 10 times more expensive, and no-one in Asia has mastered blowing PU foam, so back to those $5 cores!”

On EPS boards: 

“EPS has been used in surfboard construction for more than 30 years , yes it’s light , but shit to shape , cheap and nasty as it takes on water.”

On the major brand surfboard industry downturn, “Asian made” surfboards, etc.:

“Certainly the USA market seems to have gone off the EPS/carbon models , and Australia is about 2 years behind , so the retailers I have talked to here in Aust are just starting to see a bit of a downturn.
Stab has every right to do advertorials etc….it just seems by your content that there’s only the BIG brands , and as Surf Stitched , was the owner of Stab till recently , it was easy to see and get a cynical about the whole Asian made/consignment thing and then you have the other Satans Surfboards , who worked with FW to fuck the market!”

On whether MC, in fact, knows everything: 

“No I don’t know everything, but I do my homework and have been doing research on the Surfboard making industry for the last 2 years , spoken to Blank makers , Fin Co’s , retailers , other shapers , in all parts of the gobe and as you can tell I am a bit pissed off with all the bullshit in the industry , which is slowly but surely spiraling down!”

Now, there’s obviously a lot to unpack here. As a personal fan of Maurice’s, having had the good fortune of interviewing him a number of times, his opinions are always wonderful to hear, wether he’s taking on the WSL—hoping to push them to demand environmentally friendly equipment be ridden on the World’s Stage—or carrying on about reverse-vee or those magic boards he made for Tom Curren back in the day. 

https://player.vimeo.com/video/240605546

However, with no data besides that collected with my own two eyes, from a pretty long list of visited coastal locales in the last few years, the reemergence of the handcrafted, custom, local surfboard has been beautiful to behold, truly. In every little surf town, some cobbler is still polishing handmade, local slippers. And you think our personal racks are all pop-out epoxies and Taiwanese imports? Please… 

One of the truly remarkable perks of this post, personally, is access to literally any surfboard, from the Asian imports dying for validation to handshapes from integral figures in the history of board design, icons of the craft. Looking through the sleds stuffed four to a slot in my racks, I can see handshapes, from Portugal, the Basque Country, Japan, Florida, California, Australia, Hawaii… 

IMG 1196

Stab Editor in Chief somewhere in Portugal, on locally mowed foam from Nick Uriccio of Semente Surfboards

Photography

Pablo Martinez

And while I’m also wildly in love with a few Mayhem handshape step-ups he personally made me, I’ve got two Carbon Wraps that make me feel like a tennis player swapping a wooden racquet for space-age, modern composite. 

But what’s the case with all of you, Dear Readers? Was your blade forged by someone who knows how to wield one well, or by a dextrous and disciplined foreign laborer paid pennies on the proverbial dollar. 

When we polled 19,080 of you handsome bastards last year and asked how you buy a surfboard, the data that came back was telling:

So, are handshaped customs and smaller board labels coming back?

When was the last time you felt foam dust under your feet, strolling into a local shaper’s bay to put a personal sled in his queue? And was the finished product ripped straight from your mind’s eye, or unrecognizable from what you’d imagined him building?

Are you a resin-tint twinny-in-a-burlap-sack luddite? 

An off-the-rack, trend-hopping “high-performance” hodad?

Or do you just grab whatever’s on the used rack, Craigslist, or Gumtree that looks like it’ll float your fat ass? 

After a slow first couple days back in the office, the last week has been absolutely insane. Our friend Dusty Payne almost died at Backdoor, broke his poor jaw, and fractured his fucking skull, to which, Mike C asked: Is it time surfers wore helmet in hollows over shallow rock? 

Rory Parker realized wave pools ain’t surfing’s greatest threat.

The Florence family came over and flipped out in the snow, then John headed west to see Maddie Aldrich make an honest man out of his old pal Kolohe Andino, a star-studded affair Stab was thrilled to be invited to.

Young Kael Walsh, who we’ve enjoyed a few beers with over the last couple months, dropped a two-minute teaser into his full, West Oz-given potential. 

We looked into just how much it really costs to be a “professional surfer,” and were surprised at the operating costs these guys rack up. Jake “Snake” Patterson laid out his early season thoughts on the 2018 CT lineup. 

Craig, Dane, and the boys released “Slow Dance” B-sides and the very next day, Dane made us long for the Stab In The Dark tees we never grabbed from our premiere, with a new collection from Vans.

Here in Southern California, Wednesday saw some of the most fun surf in weeks, and the forecast is looking proper. Next week, everywhere from Jaws to Mavs to Todos will be going XXL, and the rest of the Northern Pacific will see solid surf (and what’s forecasted to be potentially favorable conditions). 

Hope you’ve been getting in the water, y’all. We’ll be working late nights to free up our early mornings. Keep it cutty, with a little class, Stab. 

Sincerely,

Ashtray Froggans

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