With the diffusion of performance breakthroughs instantaneous on the web there’s little time for tour surfers to capitalize on their new moves. What Dane Reynolds pulls today Owen Wright and Jordy Smith will be looking to refine tomorrow, and somebody else will add another layer the next. The entire evolutionary process is accelerating.
Yet there are barriers still in the path of progressive surfing, and most are rooted in a lack of basic understanding of surfboard design. A little more than 30 years ago the pro tour was born by a generation of surfer/shapers who, with blisters on their hands, were locked in a technological space-race that produced one design milestone after another. While it’s true that Mark Richards and Simon Anderson own most of the encyclopedia mentions, they were surrounded by creative innovators like Gerry Lopez, Wayne Lynch, Jim Banks, Col Smith and Terry Richardson to name a just a few. Even Cheyne Horan — who didn’t shape — spent a ton of time trying to come up with his antidote to Richards.
But by the late 80s the touring surfer/shaper was gone, and not long after went the basic understanding. Naturally, it was only a matter of time before fashion began to trump function with equipment.
Don’t look now…but this story is coming full circle…
The world’s best surfers are spending more and more time in the shaping room. While they may not be making their formula one competition boards, or blistering their tender hands, they are searching and even finding the source behind “feels” they can’t always communicate in words. For better or worse the old adage “identifying the problem is half the cure” holds true for boards.
It shouldn’t come as any surprise that Kelly, Dane and Taj — three of the world’s highest rated surfers — are more intimately involved with their surfboards than the rest. Anyone hoping to keep pace, or just give chase, might want to do the same.
My guess is Dane Reynolds will be spending a little more time experimenting during his recovery from knee surgery. We shouldn’t be surprised by the eventual results.