Watch: Harrison Roach In "The Mysterious Affair"
Can a hip kid go hi-fi? Can a Luddite logger take flight?
The dancing dandy starring in the film above is Mr. Harrison Roach, one of the darlings of the post-modern ride-anything movement.
For the last 10 years Harry and a handful of "open-minded" free surfers have managed to scrape livings as an aspirational, relatable, journeyman aesthete. For Harry and surfers like him, their marketability has come not in spite of, but because of, his abstinence from anything like mainstream high-performance equipment, ie. the modern thruster.
And this makes some people very angry.
Many of you watching this right now have long held the belief that the heavily-glassed, elegantly tinted alternative equipment these “hipster kooks” ride has concealed fundamental flaws in their surfing.
"Put these guys on a real surfboard," you say. "Then we’ll see how pretty they look.”
This is what happens when you put one of surfing’s foremost alternative stylists on teamlite foam and fiberglass.
After a half a lifetime spent tapping into the rich veins of some of surfboard designs most celebrated heritage craftsman, we wanted Harry on a few of 2020’s most pervasive models, from three shapers that occupy current vanguard of high-performance surfboard design.
Winner of Stab In The Dark 2019 All-Stars Edition, Matt Biolos, and the board the film inspired, the Driver 2.0, an update on Mayhem’s tried and true Driver lineage.
Two-time Stab In The Dark Winner Jon Pyzel, and the Shadow, his teamrider’s John Florence and Jack freestone’s go-to daily driver and competition boards.
Shaper to Andy and Bruce Irons, Julian Wilson, Mikey Wright, and countless of the best surfers in the world, Jason Stevens and the new Raging Bull model, Occy’s new future-primitive roundtail.
Lugging around a mixed bag of equipment, alt-left evangelists like Harry carry a burden wherever they go, as each of their open-minded pieces of equipment often requires its own specific, often proprietary keels, quads, twins, trailers, sidebites, Bonzers.
Traveling with standard shortboards, with very few exceptions requires two sets of fins, tops—surfers like Acid Test subjects Dane Reynolds and Noa Deane often ride the same set of fins in all their boards, for years.
For our purposes Harry would need only a trusty set of Mick Fanning signature thrusters, some of FCS’ most versatile and popular fins, as well as their space-age, award-winning carbon composite H4s, just for kicks.
While the one-set-of-fins-to-rule-them-all is a minimalists dream, this is not to say that modern fin systems aren’t without their own minor tragedies.
Alternative equipment doesn’t require a hard sell when the waves are sub-par. If it’s under shoulder high, no rules apply.
Shortboards are expressly geared at performance conditions, and for our purposes we needed proper waves for Harry to put these three hi-fi thoroughbreds through their paces.
We were greeted with a three day run of overhead rippable sandbar wedges—conditions tailor-made for some good old fashioned meat and potatoes thrusting.
So, After a week-long dose of unfiltered high-performance foam and fiberglass, had Harry come around to the whole hi-fi trip? Would he shed his layers of volan fiberglass in flavor of something light and lively, or go running back to his resin tints with his tail between his legs?