Its no secret Darren Handley knows how to shape a great board. In fact, he's considered to be one of the best. DH plays a key role in the ongoing success of Mick Fanning, Steph Gilmore, Bobby Martinez and many more of the world's best surfers. So in light of Mick's back-to-back victories at Trestles and France we decided to ask Darren a few questions between celebrating the wins, and jumping back into the bay…
BASE: So what was Mick riding when he won at Trestles and France?
DH: Mick was riding his signature Mick Fanning Pro Model that I have cut down to 5’11, making the nose and tail a little wider. It is the same board he rode at the Huntington contest. It was good to go to Huntington with a few boards and test some new designs before the big event at Trestles. We've also been playing around with fins and Mick was actually riding prototypes of a new FCS fin in his boards at Trestles and France. It looks like the fin’s a winner, which is a great result because it's coming out in October, it's called the FCS DHD-3, its white with my signature black star on the side.
BASE: Can you shed some more light on the new fin design?
DH: I've been developing the new DHD-3 with Mick over the past 12 months. Actually you could argue the development of this fin has been an evolution over many years. We basically ripped the fin out of the magic board Mick rode in 2007 when he won the World Title. I’d been working on that particular template with Mick for some time with great results. We then worked closely with FCS, made some minor modifications to it and added some tabs. From here we put it through a long testing phase, I gave the fin to most of my team riders and FCS gave it to some key players and the feedback has been great.
The fin itself has plenty of sweep angle which allows the fin to ‘hold on’ through turns. It also has a bevel on the leading and trailing edges. This is something new to the market that we've been working on, the concept evolved from looking at the boards he was riding with fixed fins. Mick really accelerates through his turns and that's the fin holding-on and maintaining speed. His release and transition into his next turn is also really fast, in fact if you had to put it into words; the way Mick surfs is the perfect translation for the performance of the DHD-3; plenty of hold, acceleration, quick release with smooth transitions between turns.
BASE: So have you been working on anything else lately?
DH: Apart from keeping my team-riders happy I've just been pretty focused on developing my fin program. I'm always refining my rockers and templates to suit each surfer but it's also important to make sure the right fin is in the right board. The FCS DHD-2 has been around for a while and Steph's had amazing success on this template. Finding a fin for Mick has taken a little longer, but it looks like we've solved that problem, Mick basically confirmed the design with his recent success on the new DHD-3.
BASE: How involved does Mick get in the development process?
DH: Mick is pretty hands on when it comes to his boards. He goes over each one with a fine tooth comb even before it hits the water. He understands what he wants and that's half the battle. We have the rockers pretty sorted so our focus of late has been on fins, keeping consistent rail volumes, and keeping the weight below 2.3kg. The best way to validate the performance of any new board or fin is to put it through its paces during a competition. That's exactly what he did recently at Trestles and France. It's a good feeling when you get it right.
BASE: What are your thoughts on Mick's chances for this year’s World Title?
DH: Game on! Mick’s running second and he just needs a couple more good results. It will be great to watch it come down to the wire between him and his good mate Parko. He's got the equipment he needs so it's now in the hands of Mick and Huey.