Back in 1993, while you were more than likely crying to the teacher ’cause your lunch money got stolen by the playground badass, a quiet, skinny goofy-footer from the tiny West Australian town of Gracetown was surfing a quarterfinal heat at Pipeline for the world title. His name was Dave MacAulay, and had it not been for an all-aloha push to get Derek Ho in the crown, he may not have been blocked from the 2.5 score he needed to take home surfing’s ultimate prize.
“I’ve thought about that day a lot, about what could have been,” says Dave, ten years later. “But things just pan out the way they do, and in the end I’m just glad I was there with a shot. I’m happy I came so close.”[IMAGE 1]
Three years after the Pipe debacle, Dave retired from tour and returned to the profession he’d embarked on before pro surfing came knocking on his door–shaping. Says Dave, “I’d shaped boards for roughly three years before I had any sort of success competing, and even when I first went on tour I was still riding my own designs. The first ’CT I ever won was on a board I shaped, but then it started getting a bit too much, so I gave it away. It seemed perfectly natural to get back into it once my professional career wound up. All I wanted to do was hang out and surf, so it was the perfect lifestyle choice.”
Dave quickly became a bit of a hit in the local area and was whipping up craft for the likes of talented local juniors Jake and Paul Paterson. “I just thought, ‘This is really cool,’ and no one was telling me my boards totally sucked, so I just kept at it.” Then one day a strange little man with a putrid brown board poked his head in Dave’s shaping bay, speaking some sort of gibberish about the future of design. The man’s name was Pascal, and the board was one of the original prototypes pumped out by ski/snowboard giant Salomon. The S-core–a stringerless, hollow mutant crafted from high-density foam–rocked Dave off his planer.
“When I first talked to Pascal and checked out the boards, I was just like, ‘Whoa!’” reflects Dave with a laugh. “He basically asked me if there was one thing I could improve about surfboards, what would it be? I said a better weight-to-strength ratio would be ideal, because it would create more opportunity to experiment with volume as well as other things. And it kind of took off from there.”
Dave’s relationship with Salomon grew–now he’s one of their leading craftsmen. “What has attracted me most to working with the S-core is the unprecedented amount of research and development Salomon has put into the product. Effectively, they’re taking the chance out of the surfboard creation process, and as a shaper, working in that kind of environment is extremely exciting.”
At this point Dave reckons he’s had to make little compensation in his designs to cater for the new materials and the feedback has been nothing but positive. “A lot of the guys who have ridden the boards are genuinely stoked on how they’re feeling in the water. How they go on the market will be interesting to see, because price-wise they will be top end. Some people say you can’t just appear in the surf industry and expect to have success with a new product, but these guys have put the time, money, and engineering know-how into improving something that has been through very little change in a long time, and they’ll continue to do so. Whether the public goes for it or not, we’ll have to wait and see, but as we’ve seen in skiing and snowboarding, people are prepared to pay for increased performance.”
Either way, Dave MacAulay now finds himself on the cusp of what has the potential to become the next design revolution. Perhaps, on the other side of the surf plane, he may ffinally reach the top of his field.–Blako