Aired on 2020, Jun 08th  in Legends and much more! / Podcast

Interview with Jimmy Redmon (Liquid Force)

Aloha!

We are very happy to have with us as guest of the second episode of The Temple of Surf – The Podcast, Jimmy Redmon co-founder of Liquid Force.

We really enjoyed talking to him while discussing about wake boarding, surfing, foiling and, of course, Liquid Force!

Jimmy Redmon launched Liquid Force together with Tony Finn, back in 1995 on stoke, faith, and a lot of energy.

Today they are both celebrating 25 years of history, successes, hard work and amazing stories.

Let’s discover more about Jimmy, Liquid Force, surfing and much more!

Art by The Boda Surf Caravan

For those that prefer to read the interview here is the transcription….

TTOS : Hi, Jimmy, and welcome to the show. Where are you today?

Today? I’m at home in Carlsbad, California, beautiful day, and looking for some surf today.

TTOS : How it is going in California during this difficult time of Corona virus?

Well, luckily things are opening back up at California, especially the beaches and the lakes and the lagoons. So we’ve been able to get out on the water and surf, and especially now when we have this beautiful natural occurrence of red tide…..this plankton bioluminescence in the water. 

We’ve been able to get out and wake surf and foil through this beautiful and glowing blue water in the middle of the night.

TTOS : Wow. That’s amazing. I guess actually I saw a video on your Instagram, right? It looked like pretty amazing.

Yeah. it’s like a, if there was a surfing section in the movie Tron, that’s what it would look like.

Today we’re gonna talk about you Liquid Force, sir, future projects, and much more, but the first question that we have for you, is it, what is the most important thing, in your opinion, in surfing?

Oh, the most important thing is just getting out there and doing it because then the whole world unfolds in front of you. And you realize if you catch the bug, then you’re hooked for life. 

When you feel what that magic is, then it’s something that is going to stay with you for your entire life.

Excellent…..and it’s a beautiful thing….

I mean, I can’t tell you how many decisions I’ve made in my life because I learned to surf as a kid and it affected my decisions to go into business and what I did with my business. 

It’s a philosophy…

Well, the world’s nature is 75% water……so you need to get in it. 

TTOS : Do you remember your first surfboard?

Yes. A hundred percent. I was eight years old and I went to a shop and I picked out the board and I didn’t have enough money to buy it. My dad, let me pick out the board and then asked me how much money I had.

And we had 55, we had $50. And so instead of buying me the surfboard, he said: okay, how are you going to earn enough money for the rest? 

So I had, so I had to go home and, you know, start a lawnmowing business. So I could mow people’s yards to make up the additional $125….cause it was $175.

I was a six foot Gordon and Smith gypsy rider. And this was in 1969/70 …. that’s right when short boards were starting to really happen. 

And it was an S deck, single fin, yellow rail, orange deck. 

I still have a picture of me and my brother holding that board, that was the first surfboard that I purchased and I really seriously got into surfing on that. 

I remember that first summer a hurricane hit and we got really good, big size waves, that’s when I really learned….how to fall in love with surfing. 

TTOS : Do you still have that board?

Sadly, no, I don’t know where it ended up by. I sold it…..

I had to sell it to have money to buy my second surfboard……I hope it has a happy home somewhere. 

Ok, we can then tell everybody that is listening today that if they have that board, they can contact you!

Right! , it was really cool because, you know, I think it was the 60th anniversary of Gordon and Smith’s surfboards  

A year ago I was at the, the boardroom show and I was able to meet everybody and G&S and tell them that story! It was really cool!

My first surfboard was a Gordon Smith and the first time I ever got to see anybody shape a surfboard, it was a couple of years later when I went to surf camp and went to Gordon &  Smith one day and saw Skip Frye shaping…. He is a legend! …. he’s he’s unreal.

TTOS : Have you ever met skip Frye?

Well, yeah, the first time I met him was, was that when I went to surf camp and they took us to Gordon and Smith and I remember the bus left and I didn’t want, I didn’t realize that the bus had left. 

I was just mesmerized standing at the end of the shaping bay watching this guy. 

I didn’t know who he was…. I was just a little kid, but I kept watching this surfboard being shaped and when the bus got back everybody was wondering where I was. 

Somebody said: “I think he’s still back at that surfboard factory” ….They had to come back and find me. 

I didn’t realize then, but I think I found my calling. 

TTOS : Wow. Would you ever thought that you would have surfboards and surfboard factories as a big part of your life?

It was like, it was like a, my version of ending up in Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory.

TTOS : Let’s talk about the creation of Liquid Force, 25 years ago if I’m not wrong…

Liquid force was a natural evolution of, our willingness to grow wakeboarding and wake surfing and just have our own brand. 

And you know, I had, I started the brand with Tony Finn who had early previously started Skurfer and I had started my own brand Red Line Design. 

We met basically selling against each other. He had, he had his board, I had mine, I had better boards and he was a much better salesman than I was, so we realized that it was a good combination. 

We shook hands and we started a previous brand called Wake Tech, which was the first wakeboard, only company, not a ski company making wakeboards, but a group of people that just want it to promote wakeboarding. 

And then after a couple of years, we couldn’t take Wake Tech where we needed it to go and we knew it was time to start…basically on a dare.

And you know, some people warn you about Friday the 13th….well, this was a beautiful Friday the 13th, because on a dare, October 13th, 1995, we dared each other to quit and start all over again.

I went in quit, Wake Tech and then immediately started Liquid Force….we had to weeks to create a product, to create boards, make, make boards, and show up at the world championship and introduce it to the world.

And we pulled it off,got there and won, five out of seven divisions, the world championship in 95. 

That was the launch of liquid force….. 

TTOS : I really like the phrase you wrote on your website “launched on stoke, faith, and a lot of energy”…If you have to look back to all these years, is that something that you would have changed or something that you would have done differently?

It’s easy to say I would have changed this or I would’ve done this smarter or better, but it’s the journey. And I could say that I wouldn’t have been able to do it better because it was as much the learning process and going through the passion and failing, like going through the failures in order to learn what not to do and how to do it better.

And the growth that happens because of that….I can’t imagine changing anything because I wouldn’t have learned and I wouldn’t have grown. 

TTOS : Does failure scares you? 

No, it used to, it used to be the scariest thing was you do something really great. 

Everybody likes a certain product, and then you realize, okay, next year I have to do this all over again. How could we come up with a, a new batch of boards that are going to be better, that people are gonna like?. 

That was intimidating at first, but then I realized that it’s not, I have to do this. 

You change the word, “have”, to the word “get”….”I get to do this”.

I get to make brand new stuff. I get to make anything I can imagine and if it doesn’t work, I get to start. all over again……

Not “I have to” …..you change one word and It changes your complete perspective of how you look at everything as a beautiful opportunity. 

All the failures are the learning that allows you, that gives you the opportunity to try it all over again. 

TTOS : I think what you’re saying is actually is very important and I would take it to myself as a, as a lesson of the day for me. 

TTOS : What was the defining moment of your career? 

The first one would be going from Dean’s list in college to Scholastic probation and realizing: 

“Okay…. Those silly ideas that I had in my head of making these boards, to ride behind boats, which I had already convinced myself it was going to be a hobby at most…. that this wasn’t going to be a real job…it’s something that maybe if, I got a real job and had time, I would do this on the weekends or something……And then all of a sudden I find myself flunking out of school and not very happy realizing, …..okay…. maybe that silly idea, it’s time to try that. …..”

I did decide it and went for it, and that was the first step. 

The second step for sure was starting Liquid Force and pushing that brand forward. 

Through that entire course, for sure, the biggest stuff, the biggest innovation, the biggest thing that I knew this was going to happen was when we were starting wakeboarding and not being taken seriously.

Wakeboarding was looked at as something you did when you weren’t water skiing, something you did when the water was bad, something you did, if you didn’t have a good boat, but for sure, nothing, that was serious, nothing that was considered an athletic and legitimate pursuit.

And when I realized that the status quo, the ski organizations and industry, didn’t take it seriously, that we were the only people that  going to show the world only us, ourselves. 

I decided to start the world wake board association to go around the world and legitimize competitive surfing, because I always felt like an activity. 

It doesn’t get taken seriously until you create an opportunity for the true athletes to rise up and show how good they are and compete amongst themselves and showcase the potential of this activity. 

Number two was meeting these naturally gifted athletes like Scott Byerly and Gator and realizing that they needed a board type of product that didn’t exist. 

They were better, then the equipment they were on. ..that opened my mind and I created the first twin tip, wakeboard, the flight 69. 

From that moment forward I knew : “okay, these guys were doing amazing things and that it was going to change the entire sport.”

Everything opened up, the world of wakeboarding changed and the designs changed. 

That was, that was a huge moment. 

TTOS : what inspires you while creating a new board? 

I’m completely influenced by surfing and surf surfboard design, I also I really appreciate the craftsmanship and beautiful surfboards. 

I was mesmerized seeing Skip Frye shaping a surfboard and I didn’t realize this until later when I was a little kid, my next-door neighbors had converted the garage into a shaping bay glassing factory.

And then I met a trade show talking to this guy…we realized that the surfboard that he made, that was the first thing I stood up on ,was his board that he made in high school. 

There’s Ken Bradshaw or the big wave surfer I just really appreciate the beauty of surfboards and the lines and the ideas. 

I’ve always looked to that for inspiration, for shapes and ideas designs. 

The funny thing is, with wakeboards specifically, once the flight 69 happened in boards became these symmetrical twintip shapes. 

It was, you look at something that’s happening on a surf board, primarily from the middle of the board out the tail and it figures their way that I can blend some of the stuff that’s happening in the nose with most of the stuff that’s happening in the tail and create a symmetric version of that.

I remember specifically one board it’s still in the Liquid Force line is the Harley Clifford’s one

He was the inspiration for that board,  he didn’t know what he wanted and I didn’t really know what to create for him. 

He was a, he was a new athlete on the team and it was his time to have his own dedicated pro model. And we had tried a couple ideas ….they weren’t unique. They were just kind of small variations of similar boards and nothing that was very different.

I went by a surfboard factory that’s close to my house, Moonlight Glassing, and they had just received a couple of boards from this new shaper. It was coming on strong from Australia, Daniel Thompson 

Those were some of his first boards that were showing up in the States and one of them was this hatchet, fin twin fin channel, bottom out the tail.

I bought that board, went out and surfed that day and it was just so fast….. It was like just like a rocket ship.

I remember going, okay, wow, this is amazing…this board feels great. 

This inspired me…. I was looking at the board with a beautiful airbrush accentuating the channels on the bottom of the board. That night I went to my shaping room and I took Daniel’s board and put it at the end of the shaping rack. 

When I was looking at the board shaping Harley’s new prototype, there was Daniel’s board at the other end of the room. But what I did is I flipped it upside down. So all I could see above the blank was from the middle of the board up to the tail and I basically shaped it a twin tip, double tailed version of this surfboard that surfed that day….of course, adjusting the rocker. 

And I had that built into the blank with a different rocker, but the inspiration for the whole contours was the upside down version of this Daniel Thompson board at the other end of the room. 

And and then I flew to Florida. They have hardly check it out and he fell in love with that board and to this day that’s, that’s the Remedy. 

TTOS : Wow. Amazing story. 

Yeah, it was, it was cool…. that stuff like that happens a lot, you know, you’ll see a board or you’ll see an idea and, and go “ah, that’s, that’s interesting.” “Oh, I love that tail shape” “I love how that’s concaves blend”

And then you reimagine it, you reinterpret it into something potentially like a wake surf board or even a wakeboard .

I’m always looking at beautiful forms and drawing inspiration. 

TTOS : Amazing. Do you collect the surfboards?

Oh yeah, I’ve outgrown our garage.

My wife has told me we have boards in storage….I have boards of the rafters….I have a lot upstairs all Liquid Force….

I know other people have a lot more surfboards, but I, I think my personal surfboard collection is probably, I don’t know, 90, 95 surfboards. 

Now…. my wakeboard collection of boards through the years is probably 300/ 400 . but for surfboards, I’ve got a couple of really cool boards in there. 

I wish I had my first board, but I do have,one of the old Lightning Bolt swallowtail, Jerry Lopez from the seventies…..it’s a beautiful board. It’s an excellent condition. 

And you know,I got a couple of really interesting boards through the years, experimental boards, crazy twin fins….and it’s like the surfboards time machine. 

You can, you can grab that board…. You can drive up in your new car and you’ve got your smartphone and whatever,but then you paddle out on that board and it’s like, it’s 1970. 

You’re experiencing what it felt like to be a surfer in 1970….

And this is how you have to use it, how it turns and what it feels like….. you go back in time. 

TTOS : I don’t understand why our wives don’t like us collecting surfboards…

What I used to say to explain why I have so many, this was like: “you know, when I was single, I had maybe one or two surfboards, but I had it a bunch of girlfriends now I have one wife and a whole bunch of surfboards to compensate.”

So maybe you could say that to your wife and, you know, make her feel happy. 

TTOS : Liquid Force in in his story always promoted young athletes….. Is it something that you envisage doing in the, in the future as well?

It’s the lifeblood of any sport. 

I mean, it’s so much more then having a really good athlete riding one of your products. 

If you’re fortunate enough to work with the right group of athletes, they’re a source of amazing inspiration and ideas. 

Like I said, no long time ago, when I met Scott Byerly and Gator, the inspiration was these guys are better of the boards they were giving them….they needed something that didn’t exist. 

Now, you fast forward to where we are now and  you see riders like Daniel Grant, for instance, in Liquid Force, a kid that learned to wake board at a park in Thailand, never rode behind a boat and is probably one of the best, imaginative, innovative riders in the sport and the ideas that have been generated from him just because he needs boards that allow him to do things you couldn’t imagine he needs.

It had to be strong enough so that he could do maneuvers with competence and not get hurt. 

And being able to work with a guy like him now push liquid force, and me as a designer, to make so much, so much better product than I ever could have imagined because even a construction techniques that we didn’t, we weren’t participating in and learning how to make stuff stronger how to build flex into boards, and then just give him the, give him the opportunity to let his imagination, his athletic ability run free. 

I think athletes are that creative athletes like that they inspire your design. 

They breathe life into a brand and they give it a personality…beyond the product. 

I’m really proud of the fact that Liquid Force when wakeboarding was started, pretty much the world of wakeboarding revolved around what was happening in Florida. 

And pretty much every athlete either lived in Florida, either was from Florida or moved to Florida….Now in Liquid Force, his whole team of athletes, most of them live in every country other than the U S and very few of them actually are from Florida. 

We have a truly, a global team with inspirations from all over the world, for example what is happening in Germany and all the cables that are happening there. And then kids there better focused on wake surfing only.

I can’t say enough about the positive benefits of working with talented athletes, it makes it worth, it makes your job worth doing. 

You know, wakeboarding, it seems like it has been around for a long time, but yeah, in the grand scheme of things, it’s still a very young sport. I mean, within my perspective in my life, , I’ve had the good fortune of seeing it completely evolved.

And the sport itself grows to the point where Harley Clifford, Sean Watson aren’t just athletes. 

They’re now adults and they have own homes and they’re having children. 

It’s all because they got involved with the sport and their athletic ability of the sport that has grown. 

It has created these opportunities all over the world for them to like, do what they love and do what they’re talented at and make a living and grow a family. 

That’s unreal. That’s beautiful.

TTOS : Are they family too, right? 

We’re a global family. 

We pride ourselves on being the Liquid Force family. 

TTOS : Tell us about your future plans…what’s next in liquid force….what’s next for Jimmy? 

Wow! That’s a, that’s a big question. 

Immediately, it’s getting back to having fun together with people. 

I mean, right now, happily we’re seeing cable parks reopened in Germany and well, Australia is a little bit off, but they will open in a month throughout the United States and various States, parks are finally opening.

People are getting back in boats….here in California, like I said, things are opening back up….that’s good. And then once everything gets going again, what we’re really working on  and spending a lot of energy on now is developing and growing and expanding the foil surfing.

And that is like what happened at the beginning of wakeboarding. 

It’s such an open canvas of ideas and opportunities, the changes are radical.

As little as a couple years ago, the wings for instance… you don’t know a good wing from a bad wing, cause you’re still trying to figure out how to foil in the first place……the boards….you’re not sure what size it is….you’re figuring out what the thing is. 

Fast forward to where we are now, wings are getting bigger and more efficient and boards are getting smaller and smaller. And that’s so exciting because every time, every single time we go out and foil, you learn something new. And so, and, and there’s this, there’s this natural excitement within that, within the foil community of everybody talking to everybody and everybody trying to ideas and bouncing thoughts off of each other, and anything goes, it’s not like, Oh, this is the kind of boards you have to ride, or this is the kind of wing you need to be because there are no rules!

Literally making them up each day and learning. And that’s really, really exciting. 

Also what’s happening in wake surfing is really exciting …

I see the future of wakesurfing kind of like wakeboarding where the ultimate wakes are not made yet because the actual style of riding it is evolving right in front of your eyes. 

So I see the future of wake surfing is being some combination of blending, wake skating, and wake surfing together, and the boards are going to change and they’re going to become shorter, more symmetric.

And that’s going to evolve into or boards where you can do, you can combine wake, moves, like shove it at all. Powered up, you know, engaging the fin and projecting airs. And that’s the same kind of stuff that you see right now happening in way of schools in surfing, where boards are getting shorter.

Look at the stuff, Julian Wilson did ….Kelly Slater’s wave pool, and you see, “okay, Oh gosh, that was an amazing move.”

But if he wasn’t on a truly conventional surfboard, but on a more evolved shape, he could have taken that creative riding even farther, 

That’s going to happen because the wave pools give surfing the opportunity of repetition to where the actual line is. They’re being drawn….and the same thing’s happening in wake surfing

And foiling is, you know, sky’s the limit!

It’s amazing to be a spectator of all of this for us to be like really involved. 

I feel really lucky. I mean, because basically my trick to stay involved is as long as I never grow up, I can just keep doing this.

TTOS : We’re gonna finish our interview with a short Q/A session….please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind….

TTOS : the best surfboard you ever ridden

Dane Hantz, Vulcan, polymath, 

TTOS : the best shaper of all time. 

There isn’t one, there’s a handful of them. 

I mean, you go all the way from there. There are too many craftsmen for me to be able to name just one, like there is no perfect surfboard. Right?

It’s a personal interpretation, so yeah, there are too many to list one of all time, best shaper, because I’m constantly blown away.

TTOS : Personal question : Your favorite song….

Probably my favorite singers, favorite musicians, would be Ben Harper. 

I like him a lot.

I like playing slide guitar….There’s a guy out of UK called Jack Brodbeck, but I’ve been listening to a lot and playing slide guitar to him and songwriter. 

This is guy and John Prine that unfortunately recently died because of COVID. It made me go back and look at, listen to his music again. 

TTOS : Your favorite surf spot..

Well, probably my favorite that ever traveled to was Fiji and then also the Maldives. 

That was great, but it’s also fun to just surf at home. 

You know, I live in Carlsbad and on the way to, and from work, I drive by all kinds of different surf spots and they each have their characteristic, within a couple of miles of each other…you can go from a spot that, okay, beautiful wave to ride a long board to just something that you would want to be on a performance short board. And it’s all right.

 A couple blocks from, from home, a couple blocks from work. So it keeps you smiling and it gives you inspiration. And that’s really nice. Yeah.

TTOS:  best wakeboarder of all time….

For me, it would still be Scott Byerly and the reason for that is because sure, there are guys now that are doing stuff that Scott didn’t do because sport has progressed, but you got to realize that Scott, he didn’t just do a lot of maneuvers for the first time….

He had to imagine them …. He would had a whole different kind of board that had to be created for him to be able to expand is the potential of his imagination. 

And then he envisioned these amazing things that basically where the beginnings of what became all the hits and rails and kickers and stuff you see at cable parks. 

I mean, they were building ramps……I remember the coolest thing that cause they have posted this whole picture as he had a VW bug…they built a structure so they could float the car, put the car onto the raft, floated out into the middle of the leg and then put plastic pipes because you know, the shape of a VW bug, plastic pipes going from, so the front of the car over the top supported by surf racks on this VW bed bug. 

And then off the back, Scott had envisioned approaching this car, his own car, floating in the middle of and hit it, throw the boards sideways and do a rail slide of the front of his car, off the roof and out the back. And I remember, you know, working with them and building that in and then filming it and watching this. And, and I remember the first time he hit it, the whole rails, just the, the plastic rails, they were sliding, they buckled and he kicked him off his board.

And his arms went in front of him underneath the surf between the roof of the car and, and the bar of the surface. And it could have snapped his arms. And he was quick enough because his reflexes are so fast. 

He was quick enough to pop his arms out from under, from getting broken in the surf racks, pull it out, flip over the top of the car land on the other side, and then grabbed the rope, turn around and do it again and do it right and stick the trick. 

it was to watch that happen and to see somebody that’s, it’s not only that gifted athletically, but also that creative in his imagination of what what’s the future and what could possibly be done. T

That was unreal. I imagine, you know, he laid there path in the future. 

TTOS: committed, right?

Committed and innovative. 

TTOS: Last question is a bit unusual, we want to know your best relationship advice….

Well, I’d say:  find someone that you can share your fun with, that inspires your creativity and that you give each other the freedom to be yourself

I’m very lucky because, you know, I told you that Liquid Force was started on a dare, but truly what happened is, and this is the coolest thing ,one day I came back from a trade show and I was very sad because although Wake Tech was doing well, we didn’t have any money. We weren’t getting paid. And I wasn’t happy. And I hadn’t been happy for a while. 

I came home and I talked to my wife and I go, “I don’t know what I’m going to do. This isn’t working” and she goes, “you need to find your smile again and oh, by the way, I’m pregnant.”

And she gave me the opportunity to start all over again, to quit. 

One thing that was successful, it just, wasn’t working out at that moment. and to literally start all over again, because finding my smile again was important. 

If she wouldn’t have given me the freedom and the opportunity to do that, I wouldn’t be here today. 

And there would not be Liquid Force. 

Recorded in May 2020

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