Lose the ego
AND 21 OTHER PIECES OF GREAT ADVICE TO HELP YOU GET THE MAGIC BOARD When you’re on the perfect surfboard, nothing else in the world matters. What school exam or chick or boss could bring you down when you’re a weightless, floating, spinning surf machine? Stab figured the people most experienced in board ordering and […]
When you’re on the perfect surfboard, nothing else in the world matters.
What school exam or chick or boss could bring you down when you’re a weightless, floating, spinning surf machine?
Stab figured the people most experienced in board ordering and performance were the shapers and surfers at the top of the pyramid. Each surfer here has a minimum of 15 years experience of riding and refining their surfboards. Some have owned over 1000 surfboards in their life. During the
Globe WCT in Fiji Stab dragged the surfers from their bures and Apple lappies and asked em the question: If there was one piece of advice you could pass on to other surfers about ordering a board, what would it be? As you’ll see the answers are often conflicting, always opinionated and the one constant will always remain: surfboards and their performance are always going to be real fucken subjective.
LOSE THE EGO
Mick Fanning 25, Weight: 75 kg. Height: 5’10”
Shaper: Barren Handley (DHD), board pictured: Simon Anderson
Typical Dimensions: 6’1″ x 18 1/4″ x 2 1/16″
Mick finds a rounded square tail is the easiest board to ride. He opts for a pin-tail when he wants to surf high and tight in the pocket in nice waves. He finds
boards like this Simon pictured sit well in the pocket and drive at waves like Bells and Cloudbreak. Interestingly, Mick finds it virtually impossible to perform
high-fidelity surfing on a swallow. “In the transition from turn to turn the tail pops out for me. They… just… don’t… work,” says Mick.
Mick’s advice: Lose the ego. “Order the right size board for your ability. If you’re not that great, an inch here and there is actually a lot better than narrower and smaller. On the Gold Coast, I see guy’s whose ability’s not bad and they ride too smaller boards because they want to fit in and have their boards look like everyone else’s. Who cares if your board is slightly chubbier? You’ll surf a whole lot better and more importantly improve a whole lot quicker. Say, if I had average ability and was exactly the size I am now, I’d ride a 6’2″ x to 18 1/2″ x 2 1/4″: A little extra volume all-round.”
GO STRAIGHT TO THE TOP
Nathan Webster, 32,
Weight: 77kg, Height: 6’1″
Typical Dimensions: 6’2″183/8″x2 1/4″
Nudes receives a level of service from Chilli only a star like Andy Irons or Kelly Slater would cop. Why? “He’s such a good dude. I give him feedback and I live just around the corner,” explains Nudes. “I’ve never had a shaper so motivated or excited – he rings up about three times a day to see how every single surf went. He seriously wants to make the best boards in the world. Him being excited makes me excited and I was one of the dudes that was hard to make a board for and that’s a bit of a challenge for because he knows I’m so picky.”
Nudes’ advice: Go straight to the top. “Pick a surler who you think you’d like to surf like and go to the shaper that shapes his boards. More than likely, whatever the guy’s riding is gonna be in production. For Chilli, I can tell you me and Hog ride the AN5, Phil Macca rides the AN6 and Andy has his most success on the AN7 and any guy can come up and order that board. Walk in, say ‘I want a board like Andy’ and because of the computer technology they can have it scaled to your size.”
RIDE A PINTAIL!
Timmy Reyes, 24,
Weight: 70 kg. Height: 5’6″
Shaper: Timmy Patterson (board pictured: Simon Anderson)
Typical Dimensions: 5’ll”xl8 1/8″ x 2 1/8″
Timmy had seen a few Simon’s on tour, liked what he saw, hunted down Simon’s number and when he arrived in Australia for the start of the 2006 tour, had six new sweets waiting for him. The board pictured has such an electric feel and unique quality he’s ridden it only five times: three times in a heat and twice free surfing. He broke three boards in West Oz (one at the Womb, the other at Gas Bay) and doesn’t want that to happen to this stick because he holds it in such high esteem and reckons it really might deliver for him. Even though he gets Timmy Patterson’s for free, he reckons a good board is like an investment and paying for Simon’s curves is “a small price to pay if it’s gonna win you a contest or improve your surfing.”
Timmy’s advice: Ride a pintail! “You can ride a pintail in any style of wave, even weak beachies. I’ve had squash tails that slide out in weird spots of the wave and you have to dig harder to make it hold. A pintail creates a surfing style of finesse and you can still do your airs on them.”
HORSES FOR COURSES
Damien Hobgood, 27,
Weight: 155 pounds. Height: 5’5″
Shaper: Bill Johnson
Typical Dimensions: 5’ll”xl81/4″x23/16″
Want to know the value of a relationship? Think the pro surfer/shaper thing is farcical? Rusty shaper Bill Johnson, who’d shaped Damo and Ceej Hobgood’s boards for years, gave up the security of working for a big company to continue the relationship with his favourite twins. Damo only orders boards from Bill and high-profile shapers in Oz. “Australia’s got some really good shapers: Webber, Chilli and Simon Anderson,” explains Dame. “They’re the boards that work at snappy, quick beachie waves, and for me, not so much at the pointbreaks.”
Damo’s advice: Horses for courses.
“Order boards that suit your surfing. You know that JS’s work on the Goldie, a Chilli-style board for beachies. If you’re a power guy like Sunny or Occy or Pancho, order boards like the one’s the big gnarly guys use, not what say Taj is riding.”
WORK ON A SMALL QUIVER
Troy Brooks, 27, Weight: 82 kg.
Height: 5’11 1/2″ Shaper: Murray Bourton
(Pipedream) Typical Dimensions: 6T’x 18 1/4″ x 2 1/4″
Since Brooko relocated to the Goldie from Torquay, he’s been riding curvier boards to adapt to the steeper waves. He works relentlessly on boards, getting 40 or 50 a year from Muzz Bourton. The shapes they pair have come up with have even lured PD team rider Luke Munro to get off his skatey boards and try something drivey like Brooko’s boards.
Brooko’s advice: Work on getting a small quiver “Once you become a decent surfer and you’re not a kook, you need a three-board quiver. A summer small-wave board for shitty waves, a shortboard for okay waves and a semi-gun when you want to step it up a little. Besides bommies you can pretty much handle anywhere in Oz besides Vicco and West Oz on a semi gun. I’ve never ridden anything bigger than a 6’3″ in Queensland.”
Bobby Martinez 24
Weight: 74 kg. Height: 5’8″
Shaper: Al Merrick
Typical Dimensions: 6’0 18 3/8″ x 2 1/4″.
On the stringer of Bobby Martinez’s surfboards sits the letters MBM. It also sits on the stringer of Kelly Slater’s and most of the boards in production from the house of Merrick. Initials and scrawlings from shapers are nothing new on sleds but when you realise it stands for Merrick Bobby Martinez it gives more weight to the brand’s most popular curve. The curve has nothing to do with Bobby cept the fact that Bobby said it worked. And worked. And worked. It might be in his loyal Mexican blood but in a game where surfers whore themselves to just about anyone with a surform, Bobby never – ever! – rides another shaper’s boards. “My boards feel as good as I could ever ask for,” says Bob. Does he feel like there could be incredible boards elsewhere? “I always get boards that work and even his worst boards have a solid foundation I can trust. For me, Al makes the best boards I could imagine.”
Bobby’s advice: Loyalty works. “Trust your shaper. You know your height and weight, leave the tech gear up to the shaper. I don’t know a lot about my boards but I don’t think we should have to.”
GET GOOD SERVICE
Dean Morrison 26
Weight: 69 kg. Height: 5’6″
Shaper: Lee Cheyne
Typical Dimensions: 5’11×18 1/8×2 1/16″
Just recently, Deano left his long-time board sponsor, JS (Jason Stevenson). Deano reckons the split was mutual but insiders cite his big high-profile team (Bruce, Parko, Luke Egan) left Deano out in the cold. “You want that energy and get the best boards you can, JS wasn’t doing that, didn’t really have the time to work together, he seemed more focused on the business. He was shaping so many boards for other people I wasn’t really getting the attention I need,” says Deano in anything but negative tone. “You can get so close to a shaper, it’s like a split in a relationship.”
Deano’s advice: Get good service “I enjoy when your shaper is real stoked to shape your boards. It’s really important to have a good relationship with your shaper. If you’re mates with a shaper he can surf with you and he can see what you want out of a board rather than going in to where he’s been shaping all day and having difficulty getting across your point. He can see for himself. Surfers have a general knowledge but I don’t always know the exact changes that need to be made for a great board. Try different things, try your mate’s boards, take it to a shaper and say this is what I like, this is what I don’t like. And if your shaper’s the man you want him to be, he should listen.”
OPEN YOUR MIND
Jarrad Howse 27
Weight: 77 kg. Height: 5’9 1/2″
Shaper: Gunther Rohn
Typical Dimensions: 6’l”xl81/4″x21/4″
If Jarrad Howse was closed minded he’d still be dragging his sorry arse around the WQS with little hope of qualification. Instead, he changed the way he surfed, trained hard and made the WCT late last year. The best board he’s ever owned was a Mayhem (Matt Biolos) shaped for Shane Beschen. The board was smaller, thinner and narrower than his standard dimensions. “I thought it was gross,” says Clause of the board’s initial performance. “Then it improved and began responding in different ways and it ending up feeling incredible.”
Clause’s advice: Open your mind. “It’s all in your mind. You can make any board go if you give it a chance. You can try a board and it’s the worst board you’ve ever ridden and a week later it’s the best board you’ve ever had. It’s a matter of what you want or what you think you want and 90% of the time it’ll work. I think it’s the stupidest thing in the world that a pro’ll ride a board once and write it off. I think people get too many boards. I see so many CT guys pick up a board and look at the rocker and go, ‘Nah, it’s shithouse.’ They look at the decals of a shaper on a board and go, ‘Nah, it’s crap!’.They’re basing their decision on what they’ve known and can’t let anything new into the gene pool.”
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