There really is no such thing, this collective dwells in my grey cells and at this point is a mere idea. If you will allow, I will explain a little bit about an ethos and a co-lab that I believe is happening now. The tide is changing in surfing, surfboards, the perception of what’s possible in board building and wave-riding. In short, it’s an exciting time to be a surfer or a shaper at the moment.
Sometimes, it could be said that one concentrates so hard on fighting a battle, and has their face buried in the fray at the ‘front line’ so deep, that one fails to step back and realise that one is winning.
I have tried to collate and extract these thoughts that buzz in and out of my cranium, as it happens the task is not straightforward. Like trying to catch three flies simultaneously with a pair of tweezers. You think you have a firm hold only to hear it buzz off into a miasma of confusion and randomness. The following is my attempt at coherence.
We at Surf Bunker have been banging the ‘custom is best’ drum hard for the past three years, unwavering in our mission to expose the truths supported by hard facts. It was not until one day in the very recent past, I was visiting a shaper/friend when in the middle of an unrelated conversation he mentioned ‘it’s great to be a shaper at the moment’. I looked at him sideways and he went on to say that he thought around 30% of today’s surfboards are custom orders. I didn’t think much of that be he seemed to think it was a success. A good number. My grey cells started to work. Maybe he was right?
Thinking about it more, I realised that all the shapers I talk to seem to be super busy. I just thought at the time they are like everyone else in the world where time has become the finite thing it is. That everyone was just ‘so busy’ all the time. But maybe he was right, perhaps we are winning the war on mass production?
We all have mates that think different things about surfboards, some believe in their hearts that short, pointy and white is the only way. Others believe in twin skegs only and there are those that ride single and long. My point is that before recently, there was relatively little choice in shape of mainstream boards but times have changed and not just a little bit.
The world is awash with crazy boards, co-labs and different takes on what will make the stoke flow harder and faster. Every shaper or fin designer wants to have that Simon Anderson thruster type of breakthrough and are willing to stick there necks out for it.
It just so happens that one of these boards, dubbed the ‘Starsky’ landed on our doorstep. It is the only board I have seen like it and the idea came to shaper Joshua John Dimery in the middle of the night. A shape that had to be explored. It is either a very ‘progressive shape’ or draws from the past, an age maybe similar to this when shapers tried everything and anything. The pre-thruster era.
Surfing is Changing
Of course there are still the main trends, the pro boards, the comp boards and the classic favourites. I am not saying this is dying out, merely that the balance is shifting and people are experimenting. Surfing is no longer ‘cut and dry’. How do I know this?
The interest that we have had in the ‘Starsky’ (mentioned above) has been phenomenal, and not just from those you might expect. Not just from the ‘weird board brigade’. This new stoke is coming from those normally fully wrapped in the idea of the ‘pointy’, of the ‘long’ and not much compromise. Guys and girls who might normally shout ‘weird board’ changed their tune to ‘would you mind if I had a go on that?’ or ‘wow, how does that surf?’. Times are a changing indeed, there is a curiosity about what comes next and the feel that we are on the verge of a new era in surfboard design and consciousness.
Surfboards are like Food
I am a strong advocate of trying new things, different boards, judging the stick solely on it’s merits with no preconception, but it struck me that perhaps I am also biased in some way.
Recently, I was testing a ‘weird board’ which you will read about in a later article. One of my surfing amigos asked if he could have a go and we swapped boards. I suddenly found myself on a board I would not normally ride, short, white and pointy. I caught a few waves and did some turns and to my surprise I was having fun, I liked it. I liked it a lot. It had been a long time since I have surfed a conventional shortboard and it occurred to me then maybe I was being harsh, I was too anti just because it’s the mainstream type of surfboard.
This led to me thinking that maybe surfboards are like food. You have to keep trying new foods and re-trying foods you didn’t like as your taste buds change. You are (in my opinion) a sum of your experiences in life and every day you have new adventures in the water and out. Surely this makes you a different person everyday of your life, surfing included. What I am trying to say is that tastes change and keep trying new things, even if you didn’t like them before. Don’t get stuck in the rut of your own press.
There are a world of amazing surfboards out there and if you ask, normally you can try them. Open your eyes and seek out new ways to brim with stoke, continue to question yourself and try not to say no to anything.
All apart from drugs and bodyboards, obviously. Not them.