Alex Knost’s 30th Birthday Present For Creed McTaggart - Stab Mag

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How did the spearhead of the pointy board renaissance fall for an egg-shaped twinzer?

Alex Knost’s 30th Birthday Present For Creed McTaggart

“A lot of alternative boards look like shit to me.”

Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 7 minutes

For Creed McTaggart’s 30th birthday, Al Knost gifted him a board he’s coined ‘the experimental dental program’.

Unlike the wafer thin, rockered out, 90’s-inspired thrusters Creed’s played no small part in reviving over the past eight years, the Dental is a striking departure from anything that has ever been considered mainstream or conventional.

Block party. Photo by Jack Lynch.

“It’s a wide-point forward egg that started off as a single fin, then evolved into a twinzer,” explains surfer/shaper/artist Al Knost. “The rail channels service controlling the board from its front half – for barrel riding and late drops. It’s kind of a Swiss Army Knife you can use from tip to tail, turn in shorter pockets but still surf through flat sections. Ultimately, it’s a model that facilitates the goal of being able to travel with the least amount of boards possible for the most conditions.”

Like fast food, gimmicks are quick, cheap, and regrettable later. The duct tape of marketing, they hold things together just long enough to fool everyone with all shine and no substance. 

Pudding has substance though. A layback jam you can eat up again and again.

When I press Creed on the difference between resin tinted gimmicky junk and functional alternative design, without flinching he delivers,A lot of it comes down to who the shaper is and how long they’ve been doing it for. Knowing that they have gone through those years and years of successes and failures on the way to perfecting their craft, because a lot of ‘alternative boards’ just look like shit to me.”

He adds, “I’ve known Al for over 12 years now and he’s a super authentic individual that has always stuck to his guns, no matter the crap flung his way. He’s very intricate in the way he talks about surfboards. There’s always a reason behind why he does things and predictions of what those design features will do.” 

Creed concurs when I ask him whether posers cashing in on short-lived trends have spoiled the broth for the genuinely authentic characters that make our culture rich with color. There is such a thing as beautiful weirdos who refuse to fit into any well-defined peg in the wall. “I feel like surfing would be pretty boring and monotonous without characters like Alex.”

More from Creed below.

How a magpie looks at a cyclist’s helmet.

Stab: Tell me about the BMT experimental dental

Creed: Well I haven’t seen a board quite like it. I’ve seen similar outlines, but those bottom channels are quite unique, the guitar pick twinzer fins too. Ellis [Ericson] has been doing edge bottoms for a while, but this is kind of the opposite of that. I didn’t know much about mid-length boards and I thought it’d be really sluggish, but it had heaps of drive and squirt and it was pretty loose and felt like I was running a normal board, but then it would have a sort of funky little drift every now and then, but never really slid out. So those two little guitar pics do a lot for the board. I was pretty blown away by that. 

I’m sort of interested in how you got here because I feel like you played no small part in the pointy board renaissance, of which you see many now. So going back to that first, what do you like about those toothpicky boards and how they allow you to surf? 

I got my first [Dahl]Berg five years ago. Noa bought two off this guy in Brisbane. One was a 7’2” and the other one was a 7’8”. Noa kept the 7’2” and gave the 7’8” to me. It was during COVID and we were stuck surfing the same waves all the time so I started riding longer, narrower rockered-out boards to stop surfing feeling stale. I just love the feeling of going full bore and putting everything into your back foot. They never slide out. The more you push it, the more it goes. 

Over the last 10 years I’ve been really interested in watching people surfing in the 80’s and 90’s and how their approach was just so fast and on edge all the time. When I tried to do that on my normal boards, they would slide or bog. It’s those old shapes that allow you to surf like that. 

Forget trying airs or anything, it’s more positioning yourself to be in the power source and feel that drive. 

1000% worth a re-watch, not the least for the savant-level pairing of Bonnie Tyler and Northern Rivers corduroy.

What was the feedback you got from riding those pointy boards? 

There was a mix of positive and negative. Heaps of people were like, ‘Why are you riding a 7’8 when it’s four foot?’. Or I’d go shooting with someone and they’d be like, ‘Maybe just ride your normal board’. And I’d be like, ‘Nah, I think I might just ride this’. 

But then we would end up getting some really cool, different clips. When you’re surfing the same waves all the time, it can get pretty boring. Using different tools changes that. 

However, there was plenty of positive feedback too, especially from older people. They would be like, ‘Oh fuck, you’re surfing so much better on these longer boards’. I feel like it really smooths out your surfing and allows you to really surf the wave so that the board shines. But yeah, that was cool to get a bit of respect from the old boys. 

How do you make sense of how you’re surfing? How much weight do you give to how it feels vs how it looks vs what people tell you? 

I don’t listen too much to what people say, but knowing that I’m having more fun is definitely a positive thing. I recently spoke to Rod [Dahlberg] about the old rockets that he used to shape in the 90’s and how we could try to incorporate a couple of those elements back into a modern design and find that happy medium where a board can still drive and hold but you could also do an air on it if the section presented itself. 

So that’s kind of the goal now is to try and mix the two together in a way to create the ultimate surfboard. 

As in cutting steaks, highlines too should always cut across the grain.

Tell me about your relationship with Alex

I’ve been friends with Alex for years. I used to go over to Newport in my early twenties and hang over there for months. I’ve always been friends with Alex and I’ve always loved his surfing. I never grew up around longboarding coming from Western Australia, but I always found his it very entertaining. 

I’ve always got boards from my friends like Ellis Ericson, Beau Foster and Shyama Buttonshaw. It’s nice to help your friends out if they’re trying to fling boards, whether it’s through promotion or even just feedback. I’m 30 now and I’ve surfed a pretty similar shape for most of my career. So it’s nice to mix it up and start from scratch in a way. 

Al Knost, bruv shot.

Can you give an insight into Alex’s brain as it relates to design? 

Well he comes from more of a longboarding background but he’s an artist too. There’s a lot of wisdom behind him and he has an open mind with respect to design – from the channels, fins, rails and templates and so on. I think that artistic mindset is good to have as a board builder because, for one, you look at the experimental dental board and it just looks striking – like a sculpted art piece or something, but then it actually performs on a practical level too. 

Note: tail-heavy weight distribution

Can you talk about your north stars in regards to making compelling surf parts?

Diversity is pretty key when you’re trying to get clips. I find surf movies these days can be a little repetitive. The air reverse for instance is just so common now. I dunno, it’s a hard trick but I don’t want surfing to look like doing tricks on a trampoline. Good surfing is working with the wave, and if an air section presents itself, then do an air, but if not, don’t force the issue. 

I think that’s where surfing’s different from skateboarding because you’re always trying to be in the moment rather than try and check off a trick list or do X amount of tricks. 

It’s the same with barrels. Barrels get boring too. I like watching people just shredding it up in relatable four foot waves like Dane Reynolds in Marine Layer or TB’s sections in Momentum and Under The Influence. One of my favorite parts is when he’s just surfing a shorey in this yellow tee and ripping it up with crazy airs and cool combos even though the waves are shitty. You can tell he’s an incredible surfer but it’s way more entertaining.

The hips don’t lie, neither do the rail channels.

You’re going on a trip to Indo tomorrow. Is the dental making the cut?

Yeah, I packed two 6’1” Serpent Sleds Andrew Mooney shaped, two 6’3” Bergs, and then I’m chucking in the dental I rode in the clip. Hopefully we get a good mixture of waves, but you never know when you lock in a boat trip months in advance. I don’t really like to look at the forecast, you get what you get, ya know?

More experimental dentals over at BrownMicrowaveTelevision.

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