Stab Magazine | Kelly slater surfboard pod

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Kelly slater surfboard pod

Nobody ever won shit from folding Board design will be a bigger contributing factor to this year’s title race than it has been for years. James “Chilli” Cheal urges Kelly to stick with the pod in Brazil, and offers a free rundown on what gear goes where for the rest of the year. Stab: Shaping […]

news // Feb 22, 2016
Words by stab
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Nobody ever won shit from folding

Board design will be a bigger contributing factor to this year’s title race than it has been for years. James “Chilli” Cheal urges Kelly to stick with the pod in Brazil, and offers a free rundown on what gear goes where for the rest of the year.

Stab: Shaping is in a period of flux at the moment, largely due to the Slater pod and subsequent backlash against it. What are your thoughts on it?

Chilli: He’s human. I can’t see a problem with it. I think it (the loss at Snapper) was more in his head than his board. The year before no one was looking at him and he was relaxed and cruising. This year everyone was watching him. He’s not stupid, he’s going for 10 and that’s where the problem lies not in his boards.

As a shaper, how influential is Slater over your industry?

Very. After he rode (at Pipe) that Al Merrick five-foot-whatever-it-is (eleven, actually), every shaper made boards like that. He created a model in every brand, not just under the Al Merrick banner.

Where are we heading with board design?

Performance shortboards that are squashed down. Wider and thicker. Basically following the Slater path. I think it’s great. They are performance shortboards that people can ride. The public are getting more sensible. Instead of high performance, crazy narrow boards they’re ordering shapes that are more generous with volume, which in the end helps your average surfer.

As a shaper, do you have any philosophical problems with following trends set by a surfer?

I’m an average surfer, but I always come in after riding a new shape and go, “I didn’t think I could learn that.” When you surf on a new shape you learn and it helps. With him surfing and shaping it can only help Al’s designs and all our designs.

Given Kelly’s much-publicised failure on the Gold Coast whilst riding the board, do you think it is wise to give a surfer the freedom to design their own boards?

There is a lot at stake letting him do it. But everyone’s boards go terrible sometimes. I think it’s great that he’s toying with design and stuff. Since then, surfers have been ringing me up and asking if they can learn how to shape. Even our young team riders come in and help design a board. It’s put the focus on board building and opened it up to people.

With his career and dignity on the line in Brazil, should he press on with the experimental craft?

Yeah. It’s probably one of the best locations for that type of board. He’s experimented enough with it to be confident. He’s stubborn enough and he knows himself and the board. He will persist and prove everyone wrong.

Who have you been making boards for lately – what have they been leaning towards?

We’ve just put three or four boards through for Andy. They haven’t changed much. When you jump from machine to machine there are natural changes, but nothing major. We are doing thinner boards in the centre. A 2 1/8″ thick board with a ¼” or 5/16” rail. We used put a heap of concave in the board but we’d lost a whole lot thickness in the centre. With a thinner centre it’s nice and responsive under the front and back foot, with plenty of rail in the water. I’ve been making boards for the Hobgoods – tiny 5′ 11”, 2 1/8”s with a real consistent curve. It looks like a flat entry but curvy with a lot of concave. Also Tiago Pires. The Europeans like a bit more volume. In Tiago’s case, he likes volume because he has the big tree trunk legs on him. He trains with an elite rugby team in Portugal. After each event he flies straight home to Portugal and trains with this rugby team.

Is there anyone on tour who you can see are obviously riding the wrong boards?

You see guys ride super new boards that they are unfamiliar with. That’s not a good idea unless you’re Andy.

Heading into Brazil, what should surfers be riding and why?

The boards I’ve made for guys in that contest are 1″ smaller, 1/8″ wider and 1/16″ thicker. The boards are also lighter than normal and thinner through the tail and nose. You get better flotation, they allow a platform, which lets you relax, and the lightness lets you throw them around and look really whippy.

And J Bay?

Less concave, a bit heavier board with slightly fuller rails because of the thick rubber you have to wear. With all the wind flying up the wave, and the rawness of the place you need a simple board.

Trestles?

You can experiment there. If you can’t surf that place, geez. I would ride a normal board with a bit more concave in it. I would have it a bit lighter but that’s it.

Mundaka?

Definitely a step-up board. One or two inches longer. Pull back on the concave. Mundaka looks like it has heaps of strength so you just want to steer something.

Pipe?

Something really strong and simple with weight behind it so you’re moving forward. In the middle bit of the rail I would have them drawn out and smooth, so it’s nice to take off and sit in the barrel. But Slater went the other way. Not everyone could do it, maybe only Andy and Bruce could ride what he did. Everyone else should stick to their normal stuff. – Jed Smith.

 

Here’s some footage of world number ten, Damian Hobgood riding Slater’s pod. Innovation or idiocy, what do you think?

[showvideo]

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