Mow Foam Nev Hymen Mow Foam
by Chris Cote
Nev Hymen’s a man with an illustrious past. However, he’s also a man with a grand vision for the future. He’s shaped boards for all the greats-Ian Cairns, Michael “Munga” Barry, Luke Egan, Sunny Garcia, Taj Burrow, and Kelly Slater. He also shapes for Aussie slash-terrorists Danny Wills, Clint Kimmins, Dean Morrison, and Cale Grigson. Nev’s been on the forefront of modern surfboard design since the beginning of the high-performance-surfboard decade, and now he’s got a new vision that teeters on revolutionary.
When Nev Hymen was thirteen, he was awestruck by the surfing lifestyle: “I started making boards for my friends at school. The day I left high school, I worked my way into a surfboard factory in Western Australia. That was 1975, and I haven’t had a real job since.”
In case you didn’t know, Nev’s real name is Neville. “Neville’s a bit of a dork name in Australia,” he says, laughing. “I wanted to use Hymen, but the word hymen has other connotations of the female genitalia, you know laughs. I used to call my boards Hymen Surfboards, and one time I layed my board on the ground and this guy walked past it, just broke up, and started laughing. I didn’t want to call it Neville Surfboards, so I just shortened it to Nev.”
Nev’s had the opportunity to shape boards for a lot of pros from different eras. His first big break was shaping some boards for his hero, Ian Cairns. Nev then moved to Queensland and started to shape boards for all the traveling pros who came to Australia during contest season. He shaped boards for Shaun Tomson (the Kelly Slater of the mid to late 70s), which gave him the credibility to design boards for Martin Potter, Larry Bertleman, Dane Kealoha-basically, everybody who was anybody at the time. His shapes were building a worldwide reputation as some of the best boards around. For a while, Nev was basically traveling with the World Tour, shaping boards for all his heroes. He was able to surf all over the world and ride all sorts of different waves. He learned that one board could work in almost all conditions, so he started building boards around the surfer-not the waves.
And there’s Nev’s vision for the future of surfboard making: “I’m more than confident that what I’ve developed with my German engineer/partner/friend is, I hope, going to be the tool that revolutionizes the way surfboards are made. It’s not unique in the sense that there aren’t many other shapers and engineers out there who have developed computer-shaping machines, but I’m coming at it from a different angle.
“Without puffing myself up, I was the first guy to use a fully mechanized surfboard duplicator called the permagraph. Shapers used to come and say, ‘What are you doing?’ I’ve tried all the latest machines, and none of them are as good as the permagraph. The machines must be in the hands of the shaper or designer, not an engineer reading numbers.
“The difference with my idea is that the board will be finished 100-percent by machine. There won’t be any hand-shaping done at all. I’ve been working on the specifics for the past five years. The program’s user-friendly and isn’t numerically based; it’s based on curves. If you have the existing board in the program, making small adjustments is easy. The test blanks coming off the machine are amazing. The simple truth is all surfers want a custom-made board, not one pressed off a machine-that’s the essence of what a surfer desires in a surfboard. In the future, boards can be made stronger, lighter, and have variable flexes by using advanced materials.”
Nev has a vision that could forever change the way surfers use surfboards. “Picture yourself sitting on the beach at Pipeline,” he explains, “and your teamrider is competing. He comes in after his quarterfinal, and he just broke his board or the conditions have changed. The shaper can make the subtle changes, e-mail the design to the local machinne, and the board gets completed within ten minutes. Then simply pull it off the machine, and you have a board that’s ideal for the conditions in that next heat.”
The revolution is being televised, so get ready for it. Nev’s new vision is already underway. Stay tuned.
“I used to call my boards Hymen Surfboards, and one time I layed my board on the ground and this guy walked past it, just broke up, and started laughing.”