If you read my in the beginning post, then you know I take a different stand point than the typical shaper with regards to the impotance of the board in relation to technique. I believe the board is more about fit than function, preference rather than performance… I tell this story all the time, it was 1980 and I was working for Natural Progession in Santa Monica, I’d shaped maybe 15 boards. It was one of those June gloom kinda days, and there was a nice little south swell up. As in most surfboard factories, the crew all surfed and would often agree to split for the day and go surf. This particular day happened to fall about 48 hours after I had completed my first start to finsh board… I’d shaped, glassed and sanded it myself! It was pretty rough as you might imagine, being my first. On this morning, head shaper Dean Edwards, decided it was a good surf session day, so we all raced up to Malibu. Dean had hired me a few months earlier and had taken me under his wing, my first shaping mentor!!! He is a master hand shaper, and an even better artist… if that’s possible. When we arrived, we found a glassy 2-4 swell peeling down the point with trademark Malibu perfection!!! I remember it so clearly, I was super stoked to ride my board, this was it’s maiden voyage after all… I don’t even remember the dims, but it had a rainbow acid splash on the deck and black rails. I was fired up to surf with Dean, and actually surfed really well! I was pulling these nice roundhouse cutbacks and bouncing off the foam then racing to the next section and doing it again… After several waves, Dean paddles over and says, “You’re surfing really well on that board, let me try it.” Of course I gave him the board and hopped on his. Remember, this was 1980… Dean was into asymmetrical outlines, and his boards had scooped out foot wells on the tail. It was like having a tail pad, but this was way before astrodeck had kicks on thier pads… Dean was super innovative, but his board felt so foreign to me, it was like an alien. I didn’t even want to catch a wave because I could ”FEEL” I wasn’t going to like it. Moments later Dean paddled back from the one wave he had caught on my board and promptly made the comment, “It’s not the board!” I’ll never forget that. Talk about a light bulb over the head moment… He was clearly giving credit for my nice cutties to “ME” and not the ”BOARD” Since that day I’ve continued to grow as a shaper, I’ve worked for many of the biggest names in the business, I’ve made boards for pros, joe average, and straight up rank beginners, I’ve tweaked my designs, fine tuned them, and devloped my own look, and yes, the board is very important… but, through it all, I’ve maintained my belief that “it’s not the board, it’s technique that makes the surfer…” and I can’t think of a better example than my little story here to convince a person that there is some “REAL TRUTH” in what I’m saying.
Surfed some small Lani’s this morning. I rode my 9’0″Baby-D, it was about chest high on the sets, a little windy but still super fun! According to the reports it should get a bit bigger tomorrow!
So stoked, we’ve had plenty of wind swell, and a couple of out of season bumps from the north and west on the north shore this summer. Lots of rain too! It’s nice, everything’s still green and I have a lawn in late July, which is a good thing. It’s been pretty dry in the summer on this side the last few years…
Ok! Here we go… This is going to fun, I plan on using this blog as a tool to give those of you who don’t know me personally a chance to hear my thoughts and hopefully respond with yours. Those who do know me, you already know I’m outspoken and I have strong opinions regarding the surfboard industry and the direction it’s currently going. I doubt this blog will have any influence on the big picture, but I do believe my opinions are valid and that they’ll at least be interesting, if not aggravating, and I assure you, I will not hold back.
I suppose the best place to start this particular rant is with something I find myself saying all the time. I’ve been saying this to my customers for years now, it porabably isn’t the best thing for a shaper to tell a customer, but it’s the truth. How do I know this is the truth? Well, I’ve been at this for thirty some odd years now, and this observation has proven itself to be a fundamental truth over and over again… ” Surfing is 99.9% technique 1 % board.” WTF? Right…? Coming from a shaper you’d expect me to begin a long and often boring dialogue on rocker and template and how they must work together, or how my concaves flatten out on the rail to keep them from loading up…. blah blah blah… Don’t get me wrong, that dialogue is valid, but if you have poor technique, all the design knowledge in the world will be of no practical use to you what so ever.
Our lifestyle/sport has gone through some huge changes over the last 16 years, most good, some not so good… For instance, I love how folks are encouraged to learn to surf at any age these days! Back in the seventies when I started, if you were 15, you were told it’s already too late, don’t even bother… That mentality was great for the crowds, but not for the bottom line. Little by little the effects of marketing and mass media exposure kicked in. First, it was the “bluecrushers” ahh yes, the girls! This additon was actually a nice sweetner, and served to soften the glare of the more intense additions like the tow-ins and the tow-ats… and then there was the ride everything phase, and the paddle into slabs and giants phase… and my personal favorite, the role reversal in which the only “true” child of surfing, SKATEBOARDING, stopped following and became the leader! People started flying, and spinning, and flipping, and kick-flipping, fucking SICK if you ask me!!!… Flash forward to today, and we find ourselves in the midst of a world wide growth boom that seems to be gaining momentum rather than loosing it. The elite shapers who were in place and established at the time this all began scored, but without the biggest change of all, none of this massive growth would have been possible… The shaping machine. UGGGH! The shaping machine… YAY! The shaping machine… We could live with or without um in the past, but now…. it’s next to impossible to live without um. I won’t go too deeply into this right now as it’s a whole seperate rant in itself. I will say this though, “We’ve made our bed, now we have no choice but to sleep in it.” it’s actully a very good thing!
So there you have it, the first seed has been planted. The simple idea that as in life, when surfing, you must work for what you want. The painful truth is… if it was all about the board, there’d be more than one Kelly, we all know Al Merrick’s sold thousands of “K”-Boards, and as far as I can tell, there’s still only one Mr.Slater…
Wow, you read the entire post… Congratulations! As your reward, I’m offering the first 10 customers who hit contact or order form and order a board, a 10% disscount from my base price for a clear thruster, that’s a savings of $42.50 for a custom shape by Tore just for reading this!