WORKING WITH COOPER
It is good to work with high profile surfers.
The higher profile the better.
It would be great to work with Parko, Mick, Kelly, Medina, Julian the list is pretty long.
These guys bring you instant credibility and relevance in the market place.
Which is nice.
You can sell more boards and shop owners are happy to hear from you and pester you for the latest stock boards to display on their racks with the safe knowledge for them that these boards will not be long term sitters.
They will turn over and people, that is surfers, will be stoked walking out the door.
It would be nice if you could hold your place in the public’s mind without having high profile surfers surf your boards.
But it doesn’t quite work that way.
For me I think I’m in a nice position having the Thruster association still being relevant and perhaps giving me a leg up so to speak in the credibility stakes.
It would be nice if in our industry that experience, dedication and just being a top quality craftsman would be enough.
And it is or can be but it only extends so far.
Certainly locally you get credit for consistency, quality and producing a great shape.
But the only way to go beyond local is the high profile route.
At least in the board making industry we know the rules of how to get ahead.
I think it is important that you know the status quo and work in a plan around that for the direction and growth of your label.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t aim high.
Take a look at Hayden Cox with the Hypto Krypto Fibre Flex model.
It is still possible to break new ground with good marketing and a new style shape that is relevant to a broad range of surfers.
Anyway board makers all dream of working with top surfers.
For me I’m working occasionally with a few high profile young guys.
Including Mikey Wright through the Quiksilver board program.
Mikey has been into Roundtail versions of the Early Bird model and a 3 Peat 4 channel board that he’s liking in small waves.
But my main focus is Cooper Chapman.
Cooper wants to qualify for the CT on the WSL World Surf League.
Cooper along with Davy Cathels are the vanguard of young North Narrabeen surfers on a mission to qualify through the 2015 WSL QS tour.
I travelled with Cooper to the North Shore this year to help with equipment and heat strategies and really just to be on hand to check on board trends primarily and assess Cooper’s progress at the 2 event locations of Haleiwa and Sunset Beach.
It’s no secret that you are probably going to have to do well at one or both events to qualify for the elite level of the World Tour.
Both Davey and Cooper surprised me with their level on the North Shore.
They have a platform to build on and give themselves every chance of making it.
They have a level of comfort in solid waves that is high.
They are fortunate to have Nathan Hedge to draw inspiration and knowledge from as the current Narrabeen elder statesman on the QS tour.
Hedgey is a former two time top 10 rated WCT competitor and is well known for his determination and never say die attitude.
Hedgey leads by example, always first out in the morning and charging powerful surf at Sunset.
Narrabeen also has Ben Wilkinson a long time NN resident now living at Haleiwa and competing in the WSL Big Wave tour.
Ben is tremendously respected and very influential to all the Narrabeen crew.
He takes an active role in sharing his knowledge and passion for surfing waves of consequence.
The young guys are very lucky to have Ben in their corner on the North Shore.
With Cooper’s 2014 Hawaii quiver we were able to build on the starting point from the previous seasons board program.
The 2014 boards were more balanced and more suited to Cooper’s strength/weight ratio.
And as he develops, becoming stronger and slightly bigger, we should be able to stay on top of producing boards that have that right blend of paddle power to track down the outside Sunset peak on the take off, then hold off the bottom drawing a super smooth long bottom turn to transition out of the top half of the wave with the right amount freedom.
A tough assignment, but rewarding when you get it right.
On Cooper’s small wave boards he has dragged me out of the general direction of all my models, producing a revolution in my small wave high performance boards.
Basically we are making slightly shorter boards with slightly more area nose and tail and with a flatter rocker over all but with slightly increased concave.
In the past I haven’t been a fan of the flatter rocker because it causes surfers to surf in a modified way.
But the advantage with flatter rocker with deeper concave is easy initial speed, fast down the line making the preparation for launching an air more efficient.
The disadvantage to me is they surf flatter through turns on the face and seem to necessitate the need to do grab rail cut backs and sometimes grab rail bottom turns and also seems to increase the incidence of layback variations out of the top of the wave.
I do concede that the flatter rocker deep concave board does have the tendency to surf flat on the face but sometimes (or more frequently) at the apex of the turn the board will flash right up on the rail higher than normal for a split second, that is nice.
Also you may be a fan of the layback snap, I notice John Florence is doing a few interesting variations these days along with other CT tour surfers.
But I’m not really a fan of the layback.
I prefer a power carve, with fin release is good also.
Anyway Cooper seems pretty happy and psyched.