"I'm Not Trying To Be All Things To All People" - Stab Mag
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“I’m Not Trying To Be All Things To All People”

Coby Perkovich breaks down his controversial decision of being a high-performance surfboard shaper in 2021.

cinema // Sep 30, 2021
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 4 minutes

Coby Perkovich makes quality high-performance boards and stomps high-performance punts. That’s his shtick really, high-performance. It’s a quality present in his art and craft, and something you can tell from his latest edit for his new SYSTM.101 ‘Nightmare’ model.

For the past several years Coby has been building his profile as a shaper and a freesurfer. He has released numerous surf porn clips over the years that earned him a spot in the upcoming Stab Highway project.

Coby works out of a shared workspace owned by Mark Cormack with Dead Kooks and Harry Fried, and they pump out an impressive number of boards for such a small team. The seemingly never-ending chop-and-change lockdown policy has been a major disruption to surf biz on the Gold Coast, but Coby took it as an opportunity to surf more and refine some new designs.

His latest model, ‘The Nightmare’, is a “high-performance board for the everyday surfer, an iteration on the 101 model, with a wider tail, lower entry rocker, flatter deck and slightly more voluptuous hips. It’s a Ferrari but it’s not in sports mode.”

We spoke to Coby re: handshapes vs machines, shaping and surfing, red wine and freesurf degenerates, Worship, and Stab Highway, below.

Stab: Sup Coby, what’s doing?
Coby Perkovich: I am currently writing down dimensions. Every time I get cuts I forget the dimensions, and the order forms are at home. I could just bring my laptop in. That would help. But I don’t.  

Most shapers surf, but not many are sponsored freesurfers too. What is the benefit of being a surfer/shaper? 
It’s a pro and a con. Pro being I’m in control of everything and if it’s not working I can correct it. Con is, it makes me fussy because I can’t sell someone a shit board. Relying solely on team riders would be tough because everyone surfs differently and then there’s just the communication aspect. Being a freesurfer wanting to push my boards I get instant, honest feedback that I can fine-tune. 

What does the layperson not understand about shaping?
If you add something to a board, you have to change something else. People want their Land Cruisers and their Tesla in the same board. Nup, doesn’t work. ‘All rounders’, don’t even get me started. You think, ‘let’s just change one variable’. Tail shape, fins, volume etc. What you need to understand is that that one variable interacts with every other variable. There’s an interactive effect. By changing one thing you’re really changing two. Also literage. It’s a guide not gospel. If you go to a shaper and just ask for your volume, you’re setting them up for failure.

Are you making many different shapes? Or mainly thrusters?
I’ve always done a bit of everything, but my heart’s in high-performance. If I do alternative stuff, I’m making it as high-performance as I can. I’m not trying to double-dip and make all things for all people. In high-performance, it’s been the same guys at the top for so long, I think there’s a gap there for young people. 

On that, how many young people are shaping?
There’s a lot of young guys making boards. But there’s not many young guys branding themselves as high-performance shapers. There’s Alex Crews and Sean Mawson but I honestly couldn’t think of more than three. 

Tell us about machine vs hand-shaping.
From a business model perspective, you would be silly not to be using machines. Guys out here market boards like it’s a purity test. Hand-shaping breaks your body if you’re trying to pump boards out. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect and admiration for those people. But from a cost and labour perspective it’s hard to justify. 

There’s also a certain degree of hand-shaping involved in machine cuts anyway when you finish them. I want to make more boards, surf more, and stay healthy. Money and time are the yin and yang. More time = less money. Less money = more time. Money doesn’t give you happiness but it does give you time.

That doesn’t make any sense, but it was deep.
I should write a book. 

Are you going to jump on the mid-length bandwagon? Or the surfer-owned alcohol biz?
Nah I’m yet to hop on those bandwagons, but maybe that’s an idea there. Kerzzy’s killing it with the beers, Fish with the Seltzers. Maybe I’ll do red wine pairings with each board. No one’s really tapped into that yet. I reckon cooked cunts like me would get around that. Freesurf degenerates love wine. I don’t know how closely associated it is with high-performance surfing… but now that I think about it. It’s low carbs. Less taxing on your body. Got resveratrol in it — that’s meant to be anti-aging. Fuck, maybe it’s perfect for the high-performance board world. Wind back the clock. Or if the board goes like shit you tell them to drink the bottle and surf it again. Reassessment liqueur. I’m writing this down.

I’m here for it.
Plan B.

You’ve been in an upcoming Stab project. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Yeah, Stab Highway. There weren’t heaps of waves, but there was plenty of mischief. I’m kinda nervous, my last interview I did with Danny I was so toasted. I can’t remember what I said but I probably look like a goose. 

Everyone on that trip has such unique quirks. Full mixed bag. I think for viewing purposes it’ll be very funny. Our team had a really good time. Some of the other teams really took the competition side of it by the horns. I think we just really enjoyed ourselves. Bummer we lost Benny so early on. Tried to bomb two flights of stairs at Mullum and just buckled his ankle. 

Where does Coby Perk see himself in five years’ time? 
Probably still in lockdown. Nah, I want to keep building my surfing profile and build my business. I’d like to be a big player in the high-performance board world. But who knows that’s all scratching backs and proving yourself. Definitely releasing a feature film is a goal of mine. But for now, I’m just enjoying doing things myself. I like not relying on other people and not being afraid to learn and ask questions. 

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