Welcome to the 13th episode of our second series! Thank you so much for following us!
Today’s guest is Longboard World Champion, talented shaper and musician, Beau Young.
We discussed with Beau about surf, song writing, Italy and much more!
You can find the episode in all major podcast platforms or read it here below (please allow us mistakes while transcribing it!)
TTOS: Aloha Beau, where are you today?
I’m North of Byron Bay, about 25 minutes from the coast, on a small farm where I live and life is good!
TTOS: Today we are going to talk about many things, but first question that I have for you is what, in your opinion is the most important thing in surfing?
I think the most important thing in surfing is to realize that it’s the deepest form of communing with nature.
The love for it just gets stronger every day and I think that’s the most important aspect of being a surfer things to take away from every single session, regardless of how well you’re surfing or how the conditions are or where you are, youare connected to the largest part of the planet in its natural form. You get to be part of it and the ocean makes you aware of the things that you stand for and, in my opinion, it makes you a better person through that communion with nature.
I think that’s the most important aspect that I take away from the surfing experience is being able to paddle out.
TTOS: It is so powerful, right? It’s what nature gives you back…..
Yeah…. Today surfing is a lot of different things, you know, it is a sport, alternative boards, for some a fashion …. but really, at its core essence, it’s purely nature.
TTOS: I agree with you, at the end, in surfing you don’t need more than a pair of board shorts, a swimsuit and your board …. that’s it, right?
I think the word is “ionization”, you dive in salt water and the benefits it gives to your spirit and to you overall is pretty incredible. I like the aspect of surfing, no matter what, if you’re happy or sad, depressed, you can go to the ocean in any mood and then, ultimately, you exit the water feeling good about life seeing the positive outlook….I think that’s all surfing gives.
TTOS: Do you remember your first surfboard and you still have that?
I don’t still have it, unfortunately, it was a foam surfboard with a blue cloth covering that was under the Christmas tree,It had a black theme with the blue tip and it was three inches thick and very corky.
The very first wave I would have ridden was on my father’s back and then I also remember the very first proper boardin fiberglass that I was given was quite late, probably around 10 years old and it was one that my dad had handshaped.
TTOS: What is the most important thing in shaping and as well, since you are also a musician in songwriting…..
These actually are quite different things…
In shaping, 95% of all boards are now shaped off the computer, but with hand-shaping, I think every single step of creating the finished surfboard is highly important because you’re going through a process to get to the end result.
For example, getting the blank to thickness, that’s probably the most basic part because you’ll just whittling away and you can kind of screw that up, but when it comes to doing an outline, everything has to be true and perfect and then when it comes to getting the rockers there cannot be bumps….
Shaping has been an incredible experience for me because, in songwriting, things are really quite free…you can let the mind wonder …one day the song is about love another one the song is about the planet.
The mind can go where it wants, it’s definitely not as structured as shaping… then you can just change those lyrics…. It’s quite amazing how you can use words to sum up what you would like to express and then combine it with an instrument and sing …. it’s really quite liberating, free.
In shaping it is quite different, you are free only with the end result when you finally put that person’s name and their measurements and you’re happy with the sale.
It is important to know what the surfer’s ability is and what they’re after; you need to make sure that you’ve done your best to create what they truly want from a block of foam.
It’s only when you stand back and look at the board and have felt the rails and all the different curves that go together when you truly feel like you’re free, but during the process of hand shaping, there’s a lot less freedom than in songwriting.
Maybe I’m saying that because of where I am with my shaping, because, I’m sure, the old time shapers pick up a foam board and it’s just like the say when you strum a guitar ”you’re flicking water off the fingers”, it’s free and relaxed, but for me, shaping still very much mental and calculating often overthinking…rails being the biggest issue, trying to get that exact rail, it is still a challenge every time….
TTOS: You know, shaping, I think, it’s is about satisfaction, It’s about accomplishment….
It really is, It’s amazing when you get a good feedback from your clients.
That’s kind of how I felt a lot about music when I played in front of people.
With surfing, it can be quite selfish, as we talked about with the first question, but if you can be able to do it and give back in some way, then it’s incredibly powerful….
TTOS: Let’s do a little journey into your songwriting, are you ever afraid of revealing aspects of your personal life or personal experiences to strangers, the audience with your music?
I think we all go through times of heartache and being down, there’s that aspect … I could definitely write in that way,but, honestly, I prefer to stand back and look at everything as I cannot not show the positivity of being alive and even if I were to die this afternoon, the positivity of the fact that I believe that we’re still here in some way formal fashion.
There’s no doubt that music leaves you incredibly vulnerable, but I don’t think it’s a personal journey, I think it involves all of us….that is what makes it so powerful and I think that’s the same for the surfing and being in love with natural activities as well.
TTOS: I agree with you, I believe It’s a matter of connecting each other on another level….
I guess if we do that with the music, we can do that also with surf…. there is nothing better than to share a moment, a wave, a surf story with somebody else, right?
When you catch a wave and you have somebody next to you, then you can both remember that wave together, otherwise it is just your feeling, but there is not connection.
In my opinion music and surf create that connection, it is a human thing….
That’s interesting, the way you described it…
TTOS: You were talking about Italy and I’m Italian, I read the in your website that you have a connection between Italy and longboarding, right? Can you tell me more about it?
I was just really lucky to have an Italian surf sponsor there, BEAR Surfboards, they had bought the name from John Milius who made the iconic movie Big Wednesday.
In Italy, it felt like actually people really embraced that the brotherhood of friendship and those aspects of the moviesthat are so strong.
Like in the “familia” sense, I felt like I was very much embraced there and I spent months and months and months in Italy all over, it was pivotal, really, I was experimenting with boards at the time and we were pretty much forced to ride three fins longboards, which I don’t ride them anymore now.
Today I ride single fins, but the drive and everything, it’s incredible with those boards (eggs and mid lengths or whatever they’re called), for sure, there’s no denying it, they became such a big thing because of that line they draw.
I loved there, it felt like a second home to me, I miss it and I want to come back!
I’d love to take my baby daughter there one day, it’d be a dream because it is really special.
That (In Italy) it was a time when I was trying to make a living out of surfing which I couldn’t get away from quick enough personally, but it paid the bills and everything, but then, I broke away from competition to play guitar and and never had to paddle out competing for money again.
I think places like Italy in Japan opened my world up to the arts and you know, I don’t see surfing as a sport, that’s my take.
TTOS: Among the models of surf boards kind of surf that you shape, is there a particular style that you prefer versus the others?
When it comes to shorter boards I do a model called the wombat, which is just a very simple I rode them in the nineties and all for the period I was sponsored by Bear, It’s basically like if you imagine a squashed longboard, like six foot, six foot four, simple bottom shape, v bottom, not too much rocker, nice big center fin and little side things.
I made a new version with a little bit more cuff, a little bit narrower outline and a lot of people remember, cause no one really made anything like that.
They were being well-received because they’re a fun-boards and they’re an easy wave catcher, they turn great, you can nose rides on them…. I think my dad probably drilled it into me, but when it comes to surfboards: “basic is good”.
You don’t need too much going on, that’s just a bit like as far as getting your head around your own individual surf style and feeling a board out.
I think for general, everyday surfers, as in all of us, having a V bottom is a good thing to have as you get to understand just the basic dynamics of how a board rolls on to its rail and follows through.
The longboards I mainly shape are V-bottom a little bit of concave under the nose, basically my own tribute to Donald Takayama.
Diane Takiyama knows that I do my best to replicate what Donald had done beforehand and that’s just because he’s the best, in my opinion, that’s ever been.
I also think that, in Asutralia, Bob McTavish is an incredible longboard shaper…
TTOS: what was, in your opinion, the defining moment of your career?
It was always going to be a big expectation, having a father like mine, and all the doors that he broke down, as far as the evolution of surfboards design also the way he surfed, it was always going to be expectations for me to dosomething in the competitive framework, especially on a longboard, I guess.
It’s a funny one for me as I never, ever, ever felt that pressure.
When I get involved in something, I’m so passionate that I really embrace it and fell completely head over heels.
I switched from competitive shortboarding virtually overnight leaving a big pay cut as in longboarding you get paid a quarter of what you get in shortboarding competition.
I was like “I don’t care, I will wait tables. I will do anything just to focus on that”
Obviously winning a World Title, got the monkey off my back from the expectations having any semblances my dad’s surf stardom, I guess.
It still blows me out that it happened, but it’s funny how, when you achieve that, what every competitor wants, you realize the taste is pretty bitter….
My time in Italy, for instance, was so special because I wasn’t there to compete, but instead to make new friends and to appreciate the art culture and history of the country.
I was just fortunate, I could break away once I won the World Title, it happened that I break the hell away, I focused on what I wanted, how I wanted.
TTOS: Actually speaking with you for some time, I understand that surf for you is not a sport, it is passion
I have friends that, that most definitely consider surfing a sport and I can see that too, obviously it is because it’s even in the Olympics, but surfing by definition, is so difficult to judge.
I haven’t been yet in waves pool, but I would love to just try the experience, I think they’re really cool for sure!
And then who am I to ever say to discredit the competitive aspect of surfing because I did it and it afforded me a career and I’m still, like to this day, selling surfboards from doing that at least some of them.
I do think that the mindset generally is heading way more towards feeling out different equipment and being with mother nature
I’ve got a baby girl and if it’s going to be easy for her to catch a little foam wave in a wave pool and get a passion for surfing, you know, that would be just incredible.
We also talk about overpopulation and all of these things…. it doesn’t matter how many angry locals you come across, the more surfers, the more people are getting to do this incredible thing we do,the overall mindset of the planet will change for the better.
TTOS: What are your future projects from a shaping perspective and from a music perspective…
When it comes to shaping, I’m just going to keep whistling away at the craft and do better myself, as we were talking about make boards for people…. if somebody sends me an email saying how much they love their wombat or their single fin longboard or whatever it may be that I made …. that is so rewarding, my aim is truly to just to better my craft in that area.
Musically I have to do another album, I have hundreds upon hundreds upon hundreds of songs that I’ve done nothing with.
I dropped the ball when it came to touring and connecting with the people and the late nights as I really am an early morning surfer… it was tough.
I guess that’s one good thing about Spotify and being able to stream music is that you can still remain as creative as ever… so I’m working on another album.
It’s going to be probably rather than folk rock, a little more rock influenced, I guess, more pop rock to a degree, but with environmental slant, I guess.
Talking to you at The Temple of Surf, one of the songs is called “higher calling” and that’s all about paddling out and taking from that experience, what you will, but ultimately that deeply connection without a planet and everything on it.
Threading that with a different pulse, really
TTOS: We are going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind.
The best surfboard you ever ridden…
Takayama model T
TTOS: Your favorite shaper
Same again, Donald Takayama
TTOS: personal question, your favorite song….
Tracy Chapman “talking bout revolution” as I was listening to it yesterday.
TTOS: Favorite surf spot
straight out the front…
TTOS: your favorite surfer…
I will pass on that…
TTOS: Last question, we want to know your best relationship advice….
Speak from the heart and communicate.
Recorded in August 2020