Third guest of the second series of our podcast is the legendary Australian shaper and founder of Firewire Surfboards, Nev Hyman.
Let’s discover more about him, his career, his future plans and much more!
You can find this episode in Spotify, iTunes, YouTube and in all major podcast platforms.
If you prefer to read the interview, you can do in our website, please forgive us from spelling mistakes linked to the transcribe of the episode.
Talk to you next week!
TTOS: Aloha Nev, welcome to the show, where are you today?
I’m on the gold coast, in Australia, and I just had a fantastic surf this morning at Palm Beach with my 23 year old son and my 33 year old daughter and had a ball….little full foot peaks up and down the beach. I’m happy, man.
TTOS: it’s actually a great time, even if there is the coronavirus lock down, still people can go out and surf with thefamily!
Today we’re going to talk about many things, but the first question that I have for you is what is the most important thing, in your opinion, in surfing?
TTOS: Only three letters, right?
He who catches the most waves has the most fun.
it’s all about getting in the water, going for a surf.
I live on the gold coast and, right here, It’s a highly competitive surfing area as we well know, it’s incredibly crowded.
I’m 62 and, at my age, you wouldn’t expect me to get many waves, but it’s a competition, every time you go out.
Every time I go out, I think to myself…”lower my expectations”…. If I get one good wave, maybe two, if I get one good wave, I should be happy…Yeah.
All morons on the planet go to make all that effort to go and peddle out, sit in the crowd and paddle up and run around and here in the gold coast, you know, it’s quite a workout…..you’ve got to go way up the beach around the point, do it run- around, you know, when you’re surfing Snapper or Currumbin or Burly, it’s a workout for just one wave.
That’s what surfing’s all about, you can absolutely have a full session and get one or two good waves only, but you definitely are happy and I’m happy!
TTOS: How did it all started with you and surfing?
I started surfing in Perth, Western Australia when I was nine years old, I missed the longboard era, I started surfing when everybody was riding seven/six pin tails.
1970 it is when I properly started, but 3 years earlier, in 1967, I had already a “cool light” when I was about 10 years old.
I learned to surf on a cool light, like a foam board, like a short foam board.
I started making surf boards in my dad’s garage when I was about 13 and it all started from there.
TTOS: And if I have to tell you, if I have to ask you what is the most important thing in shipping then? What would you say? Fun as well?
The most important thing about being a shaper is listening.
You know, you can be a really good surfer and be a good shaper and not listen to the guy you’re making a surfboard, but for me, listening is the art of a good shaper… he must understand what the surfer wants.
That might sound kind of cliche, but it’s true.
I listen to what the guy says, I try and determine how he surfs, how long he’s been surfing, all those basic boring things, but I don’t cut him off…..I listen and I kind of get a feeling for what he wants.
Now, that could be an average surfer, but, more specifically, is very important for the pro-surfers
That’s why I managed to make a lot of boards for a lot of international surfers and multi-generational!
I did a lot of boards for pros in the early eighties, the late eighties, the early nineties, the late nineties and the early two thousands, you know, I have shaped for multiple generations of professional surfers.
It was and it is all about the relationship, If I could communicate with these guys and have them feel confident that I was going to make them a board that was exactly what they’re asking for.
TTOS: Yeah, I guess there’s a relationship between a shaper and a surfer, even if the surfer is not a good surfer, but (with that knowledge) you are able to create a surfboard that makes his experience more fun, right?
You might say, yeah….but you can’t talk to every surfer here….obviously not.
The fact is that I work with certain surfers, understand the board were riding and then, unlike any other shaper, I can turn that into a board in something that can be bought off the rack that we both know works incredibly well.
I’ll give you an example, at the moment, I’m working with a group called the surfboard-warehouse and they needed a new brand, they needed a brand actually.
They are a very large company making a lot of boards in Australia and New Zealand and they’ve just opened up in the UK and they’re expanding, but they needed in their range something that was more of hybrids and beginners boards and long boards and things like that.
They didn’t have a high-performance section; what I mean by a high-performance section is not the standard short board that the guys in the pro tour would be riding, I’m talking about more high-performance fish and mini-mal to a point, but other types of boards that I’m reasonably well-known for, but they’re not flat and thick and white super wide tails.
When you ride a board that is a true hybrid or a true fish or a true stick, a flat, a board that’s shorter and wider, you have to compromise your surfing to make that board go well.
The board goes well, when the waves aren’t that good, but the waves change during a session….like this morning, I surfed waves that were gutless fat mush burgers and I surfed barrels in the same session.
So I needed a board that was going to work well in both of those conditions.
You know, I see a lot of surfers riding the wrong boards, they’re riding a board where they know that they can take off easily, but, when they go to bottom turn, all of a sudden the wave sacks out and they go to turn, they’ve got a whole back their turn.
I’ve designed a range of boards that had the same elements, but I’ve made them a little bit more foiled, a little bit a little bit more rocker.
I have this board called the sub-moon-fish and I’m happy because everybody’s loving it because it’s really thin in the tail spin in the nose, it’s foiled, but it’s still wide and so it means you can bury it when you need to release.
TTOS: “listening and sub-moon-fish” these are the secrets…..
There’s another board in the range that I’m doing called the “retro-rocket”.
What I’ve done is I brought back a lot of boards that I did in the eighties and nineties that I knew worked really well back then.
I haven’t designed a new range of boards out of the blue,…. I’m over doing that.
I don’t want to come up with some new design, I don’t want to be like Tomo that has new great design, and new great shapes….that’s Firewire.
He replaced me with Firewire, I don’t want to be Tom, I don’t want to come up with something uniqu as I did that for many, many years.
What I’ve done is I’ve got my boards that I know everybody loved back in the day, among them there’s one particular board called the “retro rocket”.
Now, that was the first hybrid, as far as I’m concerned, I know that people will argue with me, but I don’t care whether they do it or not.
Let’s take Denny Wills, for example, Denny Wills was riding a five/11 normal short board, 18 and a quarter two and a quarter. That’s the board he was winning events on.
Same with Manga, was riding a 6/5, but they wanted something just, you know, that they could throw around a bit more and things like that.
What I did is, I got that five/11 and I reduced it down to five/nine, and I made it wider to 19 and a quarter, but I kept the same rocker, maybe flatten it out a little bit and I kept the same foil.
It was it the same foil as their short board, but it had a wider nose and a slightly wider tail, but not too wide.
It had about a 13 inch nose and about a 14 and a half inch tail on a, on a five/9.
Now, with that layout the only board, that was there in the market at the time, was the Channel Islands “pod”. Okay.
If you look at all boards in all ranges, now they all have these boards in their range,
Kelly Slater road a board that was almost identical to my retro rocket, about eight years ago that at round tail, slightly full of nose, that was a retro rocket!
Danny Wills wanted to surf the retro rocket on the pro tour in 1996, 97, 98. And I said, “Danny, you can’t” because if you surf that board, there’s not enough no’s. And yet you won’t be judged as well because you’re not penetrating the lip as much that he, he went so fast on that board and the beauty about it is what is like the Tomo principle, which is the, the the effect of rail of a surfboard.
So if you talk, you take off the nose of the surfboard and do it aesthetically, then the effect of rail remains the same, a five/11 down to a five/ nine effective rail saying you’ve just taken off the notes, but mentally the board’s shorter…It is shorter, but mentally it’s shorter.
When you go to bottom turn, you can drive it really hard because you can hold the turn cause you’ve got that effective rail, but, when you want to surf light rail to rail route around really quickly to build up speed, the board’s sensitive enough to do that.
The problem with hybrids today is they’re too thick and so then when you go, it’s hard to pump them rail to rail to keep up the speed. So you tend to glide more and that slows your surfing down and makes it more cruisy.
But that’s okay if that’s the way you want to surf.
So I love the retro rocket, and that’s another one I’m bringing in.
TTOS: That’s amazing, I agree with you that is if you have already made in your history, all those models, you don’t need to discover something new, right?
Brian, he put hippo and another guy that you probably haven’t heard, Thomas Woods, he surfs at Burley. He’s an amazing surfer, if you go to my website, nevsurf.com, you’ll see surfing.
Now, both of those guys are riding the retro rocket. Both of those guys are riding the submoon fish. They love both of those boards, but they’re that good surfers that they need a normal high-performance board.
So what was I supposed to do?
Why reinvent or try and come up with another high-performance board.
I just got the file from Michelle Burris and the same file that Stu Kennedy was riding the same file that Sally Fitzgibbons was riding, but mainly the one that Michelle and Sue were riding.
I grabbed that file, that’s when they were riding for FireWire when I was making their boards and Felipe Toledo…..that’s similar file. I just brought that across to what I’m doing now. And they’re ridingthat file. They’re ridingthat board.
They’re just frothy. I love it.
TTOS: You said that you are you started to shape pretty young, what was that the first company that you created?
So the history is this…..I started making surfboards and my first surf board, guess what I called it?
You’re Italian. I don’t know if you know what the word hymen means in English,
TTOS: No LOL
I’m not going to tell you, but just go to Google and Google, H Y M E N not a N. My name is a N the Google that I’m not going to say it on the thing….
So when, when I made that board, I was down at Margaret river in Western Australia, and a guy walked past my board and I was only about 14, he walked past my board and he went….
TTOS: I googled it now! I know what it means, of course!!!
climbing surf boards, and they all broke up laughing and said “you better not break that one”
In 1975, I started Odyssey surfboards, back then I was living in Western Australia until 1977.
I later decided to leave Western Australia and go to Berly. I just dreamed about living in Billy Heads cause I’m a natural foot and I wanted to surf the barrels of Berly.
I moved to Berly in 1977 and then started “Nevel Hyman Surfboards”
You know, Nevel is not a very good name, my mother is 92, she’s still alive and I’ve always said to her: “I was a red head living in Western Australia and you call me Nevel? How could you have done that?”
I don’t know if you ever heard the song, “A boy named Sue” by Johnny Cash…that’s me. Right?
I couldn’t call the company Nevel Hyman Surfboards, It’s just bad…So I decided to call them NEV.
I started NEV surfboards in 1980 until 2005 and then NEV became FireWire.
Now I’m no longer with FireWire, still they’re my best buddies, but I’ve moved out from FireWire and now I’m doing Nev again, using all my old logos.
TTOS: I love your logos, they are very colorful.
What is your best memory of your career so far?
I’ve had two of those moments, I mean, I’ve had lots of surfing moments, we could talk all night about all the places I’ve surfed, but for my career, these were my two moments.
I was 15 making surf boards in a house, and there was a knock at the door in Western Australia.
I opened the door and there’s Ian Cairns Kanga right now, Kanga.
He was my hero, but I’d never met him. I’d seen him down there surfing events, cause he was 19 and I was 15 and he’d just won the state titles in Western Australia.
And there’s Kanga at my door….. I was like, it was like seeing Kelly Slater that, all of a sudden, knocks on your door.
I was in shock and he asked me, “I hear you make surfboards and they look really good. I want you to come down to this trade show and display your boards, would you do that?”
That was awesome! I was 15, by the time I was 19, I was making him surfboards on the pro-tour. So the yellow board that you see him at Bell’s beach, it’s 18 foot, that’s one of my boards.
The next was it wasn’t long later cause I was building my career, right?
I’m in a bit of shock that these guys want my boards, these pro-surfers.
I was at a surfing event in 1982 when Kanga was riding my boards in Burley Heads and I’ve got one of my boards laid against a tree because I was waiting for Mender, the famous Balinese surfer, to pick up his new board.
It was really a beautiful board sprayed, really colorful and, all of a sudden, Larry Bertlemann walks up and picks up the board and I’m going : “That’s Larry Bertlemann He’s holding my board”….I couldn’t believe it. And then he put it down, checked it out and walked away…..I walked over and stood near the tree that it was leaning against and then, all of a sudden ,there’s a tap on my shoulder and I turn around and it’s Shawn Thompson.
He goes “Hey man did you make this board? “ I said, yeah,. “Well, Larry just told me to come and have a look at it, I wouldn’t mind you to shape for me some boards, could you?”
And I was like “Oh yeah, sure. Yeah. Cool. No worries, man” got stuff down, his number and everything and said “Have a good surf”.
I walked back to my combi and I jumped in the combi when the windows up and went fully freaked out that that’s Shawn!, he asked me to make him boards!
These were the real great moments of my career and then it’s just one thing went to another from there.
TTOS: Those are great memories, you know, when I was researching for this interview, I found that a nice story about “never say never” and maybe not everybody knows about it… I know you said it like a million of times, but can you go for 1,000,001… maybe….
it’s a really good story, okay, I’ll start with this.
When I was a baby in South Africa, I was born in Johannesburg, my grandfather used to call me “my little never”.
Now I didn’t know this, my mother never told me this
In 1982, I was in Hawaii, I bought a Cadillac in town for 300 bucks and I drove it to the North Shore with my boards on the roof.
One day I was surfing “Pipe” and surfing sunset and everywhere and having a good time, I had my car parked at pipeand I just surfed Pipe, probably not very well, but you know, I’d got out of the water …
I’ve been making boards for all the Hawaiians, this was the same period when I was making boards for Mark Ladelle, Michael Ho, Buttons, Bertlemann, all of these guys.
I was friends with them there and my car was covered in mud.
Now when a Hawaiian sees me, they go, “Hey Brother. Hey Never”, they don’t say Nev just because that’s the way they speak and I never really thought about it.
I get out the surf, I go to my car and they graffitied on my car, which I have a photograph of that, with their fingers, the mud saying, “Nevermind, never say never”.
And I went, “that’s awesome. I’m going to use that on mine”, so I started and then I came up with “never look back”.
I had nevermind before Nirvana, I had never say never before James Bond and Justin Bieber, I’m joking. It’s no big deal, but I had the moment, my boards in the eighties and it became my philosophy in life. Like, you know, I’m never going to pull back and I’m never gonna say never I’m going for it.
It happens, nevermind…..that’s where it all came from.
TTOS: Another very interesting thing that I saw by searching about you is related about the “Nev house project”.The statement that I think is very interesting is “repurpose and redesign”, basically, you’re saying that the plastic is not a bad thing as far as we need to do something out of it. Would you like to tell me more about this project?
In a nutshell, repurposed by redesign basically means that no matter what we do, no matter how much good we try and do, no matter how much we try and change what we’re doing, we will not stop the flood of plastic, that’s going to continue coming at us.
That’s just the fact that we all have to face because the multinational companies are still making the plastic and they will keep making the plastic for the next three, five, 10 years until a organic bioplastic can replace it.
Now, just before I go any further, that technology is already here.
There’s a group in Germany that already have 3000 recipes for lignin based plastic, one day we will not be using chemical based plastic.
That’s a positive, but the negative is that BASF if one of the largest chemical companies in the world said, there’s going to be a 40% increase in plastic production over the next five years globally, simply because China, India, South America, they all want what we’ve got…so I’m sorry, get over it,world!
That’s what I’m saying… It’s coming, I’m not encouraging it to come… I’m just saying it’s coming, so what do we do?
We’ve got to do something about it! It’s no point in making board shorts and shoes and sunglasses out of PT.
There is a point in doing that, I understand that a good reason to take plastic waste and turn it into a product, but if the product is not going to change the planet, we need to find something better than that. We need to do that, but we’ve got to find something better.
The only way we’re going to solve the problem is commingled contaminated plastic waste…If we can find a solution for that, we stop the plastic waste going into the rivers of the 10 largest river rivers in the Asia Pacific and Atlantic region.
If we can stop the waste going into those rivers, we will stop plastic going into the oceans, which is what everybody’s worried about, but there’s no point in the lamenting.
The problem is plastic in the ocean and trying to clean up the ocean, we should be spending all of our resources,
“forget about the ocean. We’re not going to clean it up” It’s going to eventually wash up on a beach, disappear into the food chain….”Sorry. There’s nothing we can do about that.”
We can try and put a in the ocean and try and clean that up, but, in my opinion, what we should be doing is stopping the plastic waste giants of the ocean.
Our system allows us to create a composite panel, it is like a surfboard blank, it’s got polymer on both surfaces, that’s the natural polymer bioplastic.
What we put in the middle is all the crushed up particles of plastic in the middle. We put a foaming agent inside just like a surfboard blank…..It blows up under pressure, goes into an oven. We’ve got our composite panel and that composite panel is encapsulating the plastic that’s that’s comes from the environment, just to make sure anybody doesn’t think that what’s inside is toxic.
It’s not toxic. If you take all the plastic from your recycle bin and put it into and just, and just get all of that groin is shredded into little particles. 70 to 80% of that plastic is polyethylene and polypropylene.
They’re safe, plastics, all the other nasties oil, crap, PVC, whatever is in that bottom 20 to 30% in our system becomes a percentage of a percentage in the master mix, therefore it becomes inert, therefore it becomes so less a problem that sitting in your car or sitting in your house with the plastics that are around us every day.
We’ve got a solution that takes four tons per 50 square meter house, we’ve got a solution that takes tons of thousands of tons of plastic waste from a local environment, we’ve got a solution that we’re able to pay people in developing nations, say for example, Bali, which I proved this last year, 5,000 repair, a kilos for low grade contaminated plastic waste, that’s floating in the environment that people don’t want that the pickers don’t want, that he people that are picking up the plastic, the people on the landfill don’t want it.
We want that! We can take that and turn it into compost of panels for house. Now a 10 kilo bag is about $4 us at bottle, and this person can live for two days on $4 us. So if people are encouraged to pick up plastic waste that washes up on the beach on, on the two tides of the day, or go into their backyard or go down the street where as you probably see bags of plastic, just thrown out everywhere,
Peru, everywhere on the planet that I’ve been to has this problem. And if we can pay the local people more than the minimum wage, or at least the minimum wage to pick up their plastic and take it somewhere for it to be grounded and shredded, then to be delivered to our local facility, to make composite panels for houses that feed that, that give people dignity.
That’s my message to people and that’s what Nev house is all about.
TTOS: What can make this project successful in your opinion?
Money, I’ve been fighting getting money for quite a number of years, and it’s cost me almost everything to do this.
I’ve put it all on black, but just for interest’s sake for anybody listening, if you go onto my website and you’ll see that there’s a whole bunch of new information, but there’s also a link to a fund that we’ve established in the US.
Now, it’s amazing. It’s called the Nev Earth OZ fund opportunity zone fund.
The U S administration has determined that if you have unrealized capital gain in the U S and you want, instead of paying capital gain, you can invest it into an opportunity zone fund and that fund then has like what we have has to invest that capital into a depressed area of the U S or its territories like Puerto Rico Guam, Hawaii, Hawaii is a state, but we can build our plants, take the local waste in those communities, create jobs, create homes for the homelessand the beauty about that is that it enables us to establish our facilities all over the U S and we’re raising 350 million us dollars to do that there, but we can take 10% of that and use that elsewhere around the world.
It’s going to kickstart the whole Nev house program that I’ve been trying to kickstart a number of years. We’ve already done proof of concept, I mean, we’ve delivered houses in Vanuatu and, and all sorts of things, but to build our facilities, it needs capital.
That’s anywhere from a million bucks to 10 to 50 million. You know, there’s a different range of cost structures to build the facilities, but they’re all very profitable.
This is not a charity, this is a for-profit, we call it philanthropy, capitalism.
I don’t necessarily believe in charity.
Charity is good, but the charity means this: every time you run out of money, you’ve got to put your hand out again and there’s costs to keep that charity going.
if you’re a sustainable company and you’re doing good, and you’re making your own money by doing good, and you’re paying all your staff by doing good……
TTOS: People can go to your website and go to the fund website and they can donate, right?
They can donate, or they can just look at it. I’m not saying that people should invest….if they can…if they want, they probably won’t be able to.
What I’m looking for is support. If someone out there says, “wow, I really liked what he was saying”, go to my websiteand if you want to build a facility in Timbuktu, that’s profitable, that’s going to clean up the environment and provide housing for the poor or housing for ECOS resorts, then give me a call.
That’s ended like an ad. I didn’t want that to sound like an ad.
TTOS: No, I don’t think you sounded like an ad, I believe in the purpose,you know, if somebody is interested couldthen decide to join
You are keeping yourself very busy, with the surfing, the Nev House, all these surfboard projects…. What is next for you, in your future?
Honestly, I should not do any because I got too much to do, but I love it.
One thing that I’m heavily involved with is that I’m a strategic advisor and ambassador for the surf industry for surf lakes, the wave pools.
I’m very involved with the surf lakes wave pool, which you probably know about the one with the plunger and mark my words….there will be one in Dubai very soon and one in the Gold Coast.
There are about 300 inquiries globally for surf lakes,
Hands down, I’m sorry, It’s arguable, but hands down, the surf lakes model is the best model.
There’s a kilometer of beachfront, the waves break from the middle out, so when you’re surfing away that surf lakes, it feels like a beach break. It just you’re surfing to the beach.
The waves, each wave is different than the other, so you’ve got AKI peak, you’ve got the sled, you’ve got the trestles like beach break, you’ve got the other waves around the back and there’s, you can have 240 surfers in the pool at any given time.
Plus everybody playing on, on the beach, because it’s going to be a beach.
It’s profitable hands down. I’m so excited about it because they’re going to be building one 10 minutes from my house here on the gold coast.
The last thing I’m doing is I’m actually, I’ve got a company called Nev Care.
We’re now supplying PPE globally, I’ve got to South Africa and the UK at the moment.
We’ve got, look, this sounds like an ad, but see this (he is showing me a face mask_, this is a mask, right? It’s called a grass mask.
This is a game-changer, it’s got graphene in it, which kills the virus coming in and going out and it lasts 30 days and you can wash it. This is an absolute game changer for the need that global need for masks. So that’s one of the things that we got, all this other stuff that we’re doing,
I’ve got really good people around me. It’s not like I’m doing all this. I’ve got great people that are, that are doing it all.
And I’m still shaping surf boards, I’ve got my shaping room at my house here, I live on a golf course here at the Glades, I’m 10 minutes from the beach, but I’ve built a secret shaping room here and it’s awesome. It’s got all my stuff in it and I’m like, I finish my pre-shapes and I finish handshape boards and stuff for fun. So yeah, a bit of fun.
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 that you have ridden?
I’ve got to think because I’m thinking multi-generational here, the best surfboard I ever ridden was one of the ugliest surfboards that I ever shaped, the name was “El Fuego” and that was for the FireWire range. It was very flat, it was a diamond tail and it was just ugly, but it went so good because it was a five/10 by 19 and a quarter by two and three eights.
At Burley I could get in really early and take off, it was a quad and all of these things I didn’t like, but I love that board. So yeah, the ugliest designed is the best board I’ve ridden.
TTOS: Just a curiosity, how do you come up with a name of a surfboard?
Well, I had to come up with a name of a new board that I’ve just reasonably designed, which is, and I’m riding this, it’s like a mid-length twin fin that my son, Jayden has a bit of a hipster surfer, he loves quads and fishes and, and midlands twins and things.
So and there’s a guy by the name of Torren Martyn, I don’t know if you’ve seen him, he is the most beautiful surfer on the planet.
His style is incredible and he rides fishes and long twins, so I shaped myself a six foot nine by 21, six channel twin finsnd I’ve been surfing that lately. I ride a five/11 fish, not fish, but you know, I’m hybrid, but I thought, I just want to get this feel and it took me back to the seventies because it had that trim and that all that glide and everything.
it’s a narrow round town twin, so you can still drive it and I thought, they’ve got to give it a name and Jayden says, why don’t you call it the never, never”
And I went “no way, yeah, that’s great! Do you realize Jayden that I had a trade show in California during the surf expo in about 1986 in San Diego and in Florida and the theme of the trade show was 40,000 years of surfing, surf thenever, never
This is a term for the Outback of Australia and I’ve got photographs of Christian Fletcher holding boards withaboriginal prints on them standing next to a black boy (not a black boy, I’m sorry, it’s a plant that grows in Australia called the black boys, but we can’t call it a black boy anymore for political reasons. It’s called something tree)
I called this new board, the “never, never” so that’s the way it kind of happens.
TTOS: your favorite shaper or your reference when you were young….
My favorite shaper when when I was growing up was a number of guys because I lived in Perth a long way from the East Coast.
The East coast of Australia was with was where all the great shapers were, even though there were some very good shapers in Western Australia: Terry Fitzgerald, Jeff McCoy, Barry Kanaiaupuni you know, all these shapers.
Their boards used to come to Western Australia when I was a young, when I was about 15 and I used to love them. As I started doing traveling and shaping this people really impressed me …Al Byrne, Eric Arakawa, Al Merrick, Rusty, of course, Pat Rawson and the shapers of Lightning Bolt like Tom Everly, Timber and some local guys like Mary Burton, Rodney Dalberg.
What draws me to a good shape is the aesthetic of their shape. I don’t care whether they’ve won events or not, I think the best pro surfer to ever shape a board is Matt Richards.
Mattis a brilliant shaper, he focuses on particular things like his twin fin and everything, but he, he gets it, Tommo gets it, you know, he can put curves together, so they look right.
I’m proud enough to say that people believed that my boards just looked and felt right, they were balanced, the curves were right.
All the shapers that I just mentioned and I’ve left out a whole bunch, their curves were awesome, they understood, they understood numbers. All those guys kept really detailed measurements of their boards like Glenn Minami….unbelievable.
My career went from taking lots of measurements to helping to develop the computer shaping system, CAD cam, taking all the flack in the late eighties, early nineties, where the the hardcore shapers were saying, you get machines are going to be terrible for the industry, but now everybody uses echo shaped by IPS 3000 shade, 3D.
I funded and helped design those two programs, working with a Manuel Finland from France and working with Jimmy Freeze from Hawaii for echo shaper, and working with Mickey Langanback for the design of the machines.
That was me and those guys and I started saying I’m using machines and there were a lot of other guys like Luciana Layo in Brazil and Eric Arikara was using machine.
Even Al Merrick was using machine, but there was so much negativity to the use of a machine to shape surfboards, but everybody uses them now and that makes me very proud of my design boards. I go, this is so easy. And then I go, Oh my God, my dream came true, cause I dripped in 1998 Timber Sale. And I went on the journey to go and figure out how we could machine shape boards. We went down to Sydney and met with force nine. They had a machine down there and Bob McTavish made me a machine. And that’s how it all in the machine, meaning a pantograph, a copying machine where you had a finished board, completely glass finished, and you had just a grinder copying the board, but then we had to evolve that into computer CNC, CAD designs, computer-aided design, and computer-aided machining.
We had to evolve that into the industry and it was happening in California and in Brazil, but to commercialize it, I had to put my career on the line,
TTOS: you know, like you said, something very, very, very, very right in my opinion, is “evolution or evolving”, because at the really beginning, it was like a maybe piece of wood and then he went to computer shaping and then who knows where he’s going to be in in 20 years from now.
Maybe the guys that were shaping foam were seeing like bad guys from the one that were shaping wood I guess it’s an evolution while , shaping, in my opinion, still remain an art.
You started the interview that in order to shape, you need to know the surfer and this, you cannot do it over a computer……
When I completed the journey of computer shaping and we were selling the machines, the ATSC 3000 around the world and then the ACLU shaper, I was on the road selling the machines, but I realized I still wasn’t there because those machines could only finish the board to about 80%.
They still needed a ghost shaper to finish the boards.
I then coined the phrase, “a ghost shaper” that came from me again, there’s not a boast.
I’m just saying that I had to make all this work, I had to tell the programmer that we don’t measure boards from zero to X, we measure 12 inches from the nose, 12 inches from the tail, we measure the rail volume, we measure the rocket 12 inches in the nose, 12 inches from the tail,we know a shaper is going to use a program properly if it’s a CAD program.
I’m sorry, that was my input so that I could get other shapers to use the program, which they all do now. But the evolution is that that lack of being able to shape with the machine a board a hundred percent, cause that was always my goal. That’s how it was started.
I was frustrated. I couldn’t get a hundred percent out of a blank being machine, so I needed to do a blank that was a multi-scheme, multi-density foam blank, that was square that could sit on a flatbed CNC machine so that the machine could cut it perfectly, absolutely perfectly.
That’s how FireWire came about through me getting together with Bert Berger and now, FireWire is the most innovative surfboard company on the planet.
Firewire is the first company to have professional surfers, winning events on a non traditional product Firewire is the first company to actually encourage so many things in the industry like using entropy, organic base, poxy resins all the stuff about sustainable surf and sustainable surfboards.
That has all come from Firewire, right? No one can argue that.
It pisses me off if people try and argue …. and I didn’t do that!
The incredible team at FireWire Marc Price and Chewie Rainer, and Mike Milligan and all those guys and Rowan and Nathan here on here, they are the ones responsible for creating the most environmentally sound surfboard on the planet and one of the most high performance boards on the planet.
If you look at everybody’s range of surfboards, now, they all do some form of a hybrid of Firewire, but they can’t do Firewire….
Why? Because we spent so much money in developing the technique and we have two factories in Thailand that are just like perfect factories….you could eat off the floor, the staff love working there.
So no bullshit about Asian slave-trade, you know, like shut up!!!
You know, the Firewire factory is better than any other surfboard factory on the planet! healthy, happy people, making surfboards that everybody loves around the world.
That’s the evolution
TTOS: In the shipping room that you have in your house right now? Are you shaping on a computer or you’re shaping with your own hands?
Right now? I hinge, I shaped it that I make adjustments….it’s unbelievable.
I bring my design up on the screen, I get a board from the file, I make a few adjustments and I send the file to be machine. I picked up some blanks yesterday, I’ve got them in my shaping room now to finish those, it takes me about 10 minutes to finish them, but I love to handshape.
I’ve got blanks in my room, a blank that I designed in 1980 for and they still using that blank 40 years later. That blank, everybody loves it because it’s got a flat deck and it’s really good for fishers and things like that. So I love going into my shaping room and shaping like I shaped the original Never-Never that I’m replacing, I’m putting that into the surfboards-warehouse range.
I love getting there. And then when I do, I live stream, so I get people from all over the world and they come on and they make comments and they watch me shape….I haven’t done it for a while. I did it a lot last year, but it’s like my Zen room. It’s like my craft and I love my craft.
It’s like, if I was a guitarist and I made my own guitars, I would continue to make my guitars, even if they were made, if I was Gibson, that’d be made all over the world yet, but I would love to keep, make my own, which is my craft, nothing special, it’s just mine.
TTOS: Personal, question: your favorite song….
Wish you were here by Pink Floyd. I get goosebumps.
I got goosebumps thinking about that song because it means so much to me, “Wish you were here “was a song that I was listening to when I drove across the Nullarbor, plain from Perth in 1977, and the song came out then and I listened to it probably a bit stoned all the way across the Nullarbor plain, which if you know about the Nullarbor plain, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
It’s days of driving of seeing nothing and inserting cactus and that, and you know, the amazing waves and the great Australian bay.
It just got incredible guitar rift in it and my son’s a really good guitarist and I love music and yeah, that’s my most favorite song.
TTOS: Your favorite surf spot ?
Jay Bayand coming in a very close second is Jeffrey’s Bay. I spent a lot of time in Jeffrey’s Bay, shaping surfboards back in the eighties.
And I’ve had some of the most ridiculous associations out of Jay Bay where I’ve been screaming at the top of my voice for four hours, because I can’t believe what I’m seeing.
I can’t believe, you know, absolute perfection with like, you know, 20 guys out and, and guys on seven, six apparently passed me going “Hey Bro, slow down, man, slow down. Boom. Okay. There’s plenty of waves” because I’m dropping, I can’t believe these waves because there there are amazing waves cause it’s a great barrel and it’s section eight and is challenging and, and it’s deep and it’s, it’s awesome.
Jay Bay is just the most rippable wave on the planet. I mean, I don’t think there is a better wave on the planet than Jay Bay for the type of wave that we all want to surf.
Of course, you know, I’ve surfed some pretty intense waves around the world, I’ve never been a big wave surfer, but I’ve surfed some big waves like big sunset and things like that, not as good as the pros, I’m not claiming that I was anybody fantastic, I’ve surfed these waves.
I like big waves, I surfed small teahpoo to about in 2006 and it scared the pants off me.
There’s no way that I was good enough to serve chops So I don’t like to slabs, but all of us love a wide where you can take off, glide into it, get a high line, races section, come down bottom, turn to a turn, pull up into the barrel.
I’m telling you what Jay Bay’s like, and you’re not even near impossible as yet, and then you get a barrel, you come out, you do another, another hackles the top, then you see impossibles coming at you, then you get barreled and if you get through impossibles, you’re down in the tubes and then you’re down, just settle down there….Jay Bay is just ridiculous.
TTOS: Your favorite surfer….
I’d have to be selfish and say that my favorite surfer would be Michael Barry, Manga Barry.
He has a really unique style and he’s got it. He’s got the Burley style. He’s raised as a surfer that ripped up Bearly and Cura. So he’s got the amazing barrel style. And the reason I’m saying that is that I worked really closely with him, so I was really aware of the way he surfed, but I I’m going to jump right forward now and say, you know, I’m gonna ask my own question now, who is now my most favorite surfer and maybe age thing, maybe I’m going look, I’m over all that is and stuff that I could never do, you know? And I know I’m not over it…..I just love it….. I’m blown away like everybody else, but when I see a guy take off and surf life, you know well like Torren Martyn….I’ll use him as an example and there’s a few other guys just like him.
They’re getting into places on waves where the energy is, and they don’t care about coming off the bottom and smacking the lip,they’re just up in this zone where you look at a picture of them surfing or a video and you can feel it. ….
I can feel the feeling that they’re having when they got their hands up like this and they’re cruising this far from the top of the lip or they’re into a long, slow round house, just flowing that beautiful rail and broken feel.
It’s it’s poetry and that’s why I love that.
TTOS: The last question is a little bit unusual and as is not surf-related. We want to know your best relationship advice….
Ha ha…. happy wife, happy life!
you know, best relationship advice is “listen”
I’ve often been reprimanded for not listening….listen to your wife, listen to your partner.
You know, as a male, it’s our duty to listen, cause we women definitely. I have no doubt women have a different insight into things around us.
That’s that in itself is a cliche, but women are from Venus and men are from Mars, you know, it’s true, we just fumble along and making steaks and women and women like to try and bring us into line….so just listen and don’t object them, giving us advice.
TTOS: But you know, funny enough you started the interview saying the most important thing for a shaper is listening the interview saying the most important thing in our relationship is listening, so you really believe that listening is important.
Talk with your wife, your girlfriend, or professionally, or with a friend.
Just listening is the most important thing!