Five Incredible Shapers You Should Know

A world far beyond the familiar names of Darren Handley, Matt Biolos, Jason Stevenson and Al Merrick… 

Who doesn’t want the best in life? Coffee, food, cars, we want the best our incomes can provide.

And the best thing about surfboards? Give or take a hundred here, a fifty there, they cost exactly the same.

So logic tells us to follow in the trails of the world’s best surfers: Mick Fanning, Julian Wilson, Joel Parkinson, Jordy Smith, Kolohe Andino, Dane Reynolds.

Therefore we ride Channel Islands and DHDs and Losts and JSs. And we rarely lose.

But what about those shapers who don’t have the same media profiles? Is it possible we’re missing out on new experiences and new approaches to our boards? Maybe, yes!

Let’s investigate five shapers with whom you need to get acquainted.

1. Johnny Cabianca

Proof his boards work: Gabriel Medina

Did you know the current world champ had been with Spanish surf co Pukas since he was 14, only leaving earlier this year when his shaper Johnny moved back to Brazil? Watch Gabriel surf, closely, and see how connected he is with his surfboard, how he neither has to over or under surf it, how it works as an extension of his limbs. His shaper Johnny Cabianca is Brazilian but, until earlier this year when he split home, lived in the Basque Country, working for Pukas, shaping Gabriel’s boards.

Further proof? Lost’s Matt Biolos says he’s as good as anyone in the world.


2. Marcio Zouvi, Sharp Eye

Proof his boards work: Filipe Toledo

You’d be alone if you didn’t watch Filipe surf and think, man, if only I could jump on one of those magic boards. Brazilian Marcio moved to California in the eighties and started Sharp Eye surfboards in 1992. Interestingly, and particularly interesting given his geographical location, he’s never shaped a longboard, preferring the thrill of the ultra high-performance. Inspect the Holy Toledo, Disco Inferno and Game Changer models, all favourites of Filipe.


3. Blake Peters, Panda

Proof his board work: Ford Archbold 

This is a different buzz to the boards of Gabriel and Filipe. Panda Surboards is owned and shaped by the Australian Blake Peters. Team rider Ford ain’t one for hitting the lip 40 times to the beach, as awesome as that is. Ford likes speed, likes to layback under the lip, spreads his wings as much as poss, and so, Blake can make an easy-to-ride board that still flies. Try Ford’s model The Fried Till You Die.


4. Daniel Thomson, Tomo/Firewire

Proof his boards work: Kelly Slater

Maybe you’ve heard of Daniel Thomson, at least since Kelly whipped one out at Snapper Rocks in March. Daniel Thomson is a incredibly stylish natural footer from Lennox Head in Australia whose move to Southern California, and recent signing with Firewire, has seen his star rocket. Daniel makes surfboards that look unlike anything you’ve ever seen. Pretty? It depends upon your perspective of what a surfboard should look like. Do they go? Kelly says, yes.


5. Rich Landerer, Rickland

Proof his boards work: Jamie O’Brien.

Born in Peru, raised in Florida, learned the game in California. And it’s not just tail-throwing, Pipe hell-raising Jamie O’Brien on his boards. Sunny Garcia, Ross Williams and current WSL surfer Brett Simpson all jam on his shapes. Attention to detail is Rich’s speciality. Look him up.


WSL Judges
Meet the panel that would've threw Kelly a 10 for his non-make at Trestles.

Why it sucks to be a WSL judge!

Now the punters want unmade airs scored?

How fluttery and depressing the response to Kelly Slater’s unmade air yesterday. The snarling, the bared teeth, the traumatised sphincters!

“Zero credibility”

“Ridiculously ripped off!!”

“You guys suck”

“So Stupid”

“You chicken-hearted motherfuckers! All you bastards are cunts!”

“How was that not a 10!!”

And, from Millar Moaz on the WSL website, “The [sic] Judgs kiled the contast… shame on you!!”

What the judges did do, was avoid emotion. Rulebook in-hand they stuck to the criteria,  dropping scores from 3.8 to 5.

No argument, no hesitation. The computer kicked out the high and the low, averaged the rest and… a 4.17.

Judges don’t give a score based on best intentions or how loud the crowd screams. Just cold hard truths.

Then again I would agree. I am a Judge.

Which means I’m just another paid cog in the wheel of the Jewish bankers’ Trojan horse, built to hold surfing back in the dark ages of three to the beach and keeping contests in big-city locations. Dutifully trained to change my scores whenever the head-judge nods his head up or down.

The Judges, the judging, I’ve heard it all. Big-ticket calls like this just fuel the fire of discontent at ground zero.

Another reason for eight-year-old Taj or Jack’s mum to accost me pre-surf in the car park two weeks after the comp, video evidence in hand.

“Everyone on the beach thought he got the score”

Another reason for the normally meek but now belligerently drunk fourth placing finalist shouting in my ear at the surf-comp after party.

“You guys don’t want me to win, ay.”

Another reason to send a text highlighting my inability to see how that window-washer turn was in fact a fins-free tail waft.

“That cost me the title”

How about we give the judges a break? It ain’t all roses.

The indignity of having muffins thrown at you by short-fused Hawaiians.

All day in the harsh sun, the only relief a sneaky behind the sunglasses cat-nap mid-heat

Pretending not to be hungover? That shit takes years of practice.

I can’t even imagine the leggy distractions walking past on the beach at some of these WSL events. I struggle with keeping an eye on the job when a seagull flies past.

People don’t realise and appreciate how hard it is to write a score down while juggling coffee and your lunch.

So lets just sweep this little noisy mess under the carpet and keep in mind it’s not always weeks spent in the best surf locations in the world for our judging panel…

… sometimes they have to go home to sweat out the coke.

(Read when BeachGrit was a cockmonger at the US Open!)

Hurley Pro: Scene of Kelly Slater’s Bum Flop!

Is four points just reward for this kind of barbarity?

I’m not exaggerating when I tell you it is, roughly, a 95-5 split on the merits, or not, of Kelly Slater’s backside air, unmade, but ridden out of.

Kelly is a matchless surfer (and, once, a first-rate swordsman, if the rumours are to be believed) and he advanced down a mid-sized left at a canter, though on an oblique line. He looked strong and compact so it was evident that…something… was going to happen.

He threw his blade men the air, seemed to fly into smoke and was lost from view, struggled to get free, but jerked his body enough to remount his board.

Beauty or barbarity?

The photo editor of Surfing Magazine, a purist of the game, wrote: “I guess I’m alone on this one but It seems the world doesn’t care if someone lands on their feet or on their belly. it’s time to start practicing 1080s and just as long as part of my body lands on my board and I can stand up then it’s the craziest move ever. Ok cool. Got it.”

On the beach, a cheer burst from every lip. Men took off their caps and shouted; women clapped their hands again and again. To their inexpressible disgust, the unmade, but ridden out of, air scored a 4.17.

“The greatest underscore in the history of surfing,” said the noted photographer Nate Smith.

“Best four point ride ever!” said the big-wave surfer Mark Mathews.

Kelly is now dead and gone, from contest, beaten by Mick Fanning’s simple, but effective, windmills.

Watch the air here!

And a compressed version of the heat, here.

Meanwhile, Mike Ho, Shaun Tomson, Cheyne Horan, Simon Anderson and Rabs had a heritage heat. And it was rad!

And the quarter-finals are here, very soon!

Filipe Toledo v Joel Parkinson (BeachGrit says Filipe!)

Adriano de Souza v Wiggoly Dantas (BeachGrit says Wiggoly!)

Ace Buchan v Mick Fanning (BeachGrit says Mick!)

Gabriel Medina v Nat Young (BeachGrit says Gabriel!)

Impotent rage: Flying the bird

Kolohe Andino offers his indecent digit to the judges. But did he really want them to you know what his you know what?

Yesterday in the waning moments of Round 3 Heat 7 Kolohe Andino became very angry. He sat on his board, near Mick “White Lightening” Fanning and, at first, slapped the water. Shoulders slumped. Head hung. He slapped again and then turned toward the scaffolding and raised a lonely soldier high into the sky. A one-fingered saluted pointed at, it must be assumed, the judges in their perch. And as the buzzer sounded he did it once again except fiercer. His jaw tense, eyes blazing rage.

Were the judges offended? Difficult to say but they should have been. “The middle finger…” according to anthropologist Desmond Morris “…Is one of the most ancient insult gestures known. It is the penis and the curled fingers on either side are the testicles. By doing it, you are offering someone a phallic gesture. It is saying, ‘this is a phallus’ that you’re offering to people, which is a very primeval display.”

The Romans called it the “igitus impudicus or digits infamies”  (indecent or infamous digit). The mad emperor Caligula murderous and evil was said to have regularly offered his digitus infamis to be kissed by his enemies, just to flash his imperial nasty.

A Roman historian named Tacitus wrote that German tribes raised the middle finger to advancing Roman soldiers and that even squirrel monkeys use their erect penises to make rude gestures.

Its first documented use in the United States is from 1886. A pitcher for the Boston Beaneaters flashed his bird to a team photographer for the New York Giants, according to the BBC.

Kolohe means “rascal” in Hawaiian. Andino has Eastern European origins.

Joel Parkinson also, famously, wanted Kelly Slater to know.
Joel Parkinson also, famously, wanted Kelly Slater to …you know.


Courtney Conlogue

Just in: WSL doubles women’s prizemoney?

For the first time in history, the ladies will be earning the same as the gents…

In an interview with National Public Radio this past Wednesday, Courtney Conlogue dropped a bomb that I really want to believe.

(Click here)

The WSL has doubled the prize money for the women’s WSL, effective immediately. For the first time in history the ladies will be earning on an equal level with the men, with both genders competing for a respective $525,000 prize purse.

Which is just great. But is it true?

Not a word from the WSL, not a single “legitimate” surf publication covering it, nothing beyond a short radio interview from a source which I love, and which is typically factual, but isn’t exactly keyed in to the surf world.

I don’t know what’s going on. I know that my google-fu only turned up evidence, somewhat dated, that the prize money remains the same.

(Click here)

I know that, if I were involved with WSL promotion, I’d be shouting the news from the roof tops. I know that the WSL’s struggle to attract sponsorship dollars makes the notion of increasing expenses on the least popular half of the tour seem unrealistic.

I also know the ladies have been fucking killing it this event and that more revenue can only be a good thing for athletes who, even if they lack the killer instinct of Adam, can put on a damn good show when they aren’t relegated to onshore garbage.

(Watch this lil fin ditch…)