Primary influence on board design development typically is high profile influencers.
That is surfers or shapers making an impact on the world stage.
When Kelly, Jack, Mick, Joel, Julian, Medina, Italo etc surf you take notes.
And stuff from the tour, or free surfing to a lesser extent is showing the way.
So what do you do when there is no tour, you are not really seeing much of the influencers and in my case you have restructured your business and become more localised and have pulled back on the team thing and focus is on custom board building.
You become more insular, more local.
You probably pay attention more at your own beach.
For me that’s North Narrabeen and there are a lot of good to world class surfers ripping the hallowed waters day in day out.
So definitely they are my new influencers.
Case in point Kai Warner has been ripping lately and along with Jordy Lawler are arguably the gun surfers at the moment.
Back to Kai, he is a well rounded surfer, great backhand, powerful forehand, innate barrel sense and feel.
All these qualities not going unnoticed by myself and Ben Short.
I make a lot of boards for Ben and he takes me on quite a few journeys chasing new or reconfigured designs, all good.
Anyway one session on a right bank with perfect off-shore conditions but high tide and 3 to 4 feet, Kai was a standout carrying speed across dead sections but still carving tight in the pocket, covering distance on bottom turns to massive carves out of the top close to the lip, another level and good to see, I was taking photos after surfing earlier.
Ben was out there too and he has been on fire this winter surfing a lot, but felt maybe there was something in the style of board Kai was surfing helping him elevate to this higher level.
You can tell a certain amount from observation and I checked Kai’s board out as he headed back up the beach after the session but I decided to ask Brett Warner for some dimension details. He can only say sure, or no way Simon fuck off.
He kindly gave me a few key dimensions on the board he supposed Kai would have been surfing.
And Ben and I put together a design from one of Ben’s old favourite Face Dancer 5’11 all-rounder boards adopting the rocker, nose and tail at 12″ measurement guidelines generated up from Kai’s board creating a new Face Dancer 5’10 smaller wave all-rounder board for 2 to 4 feet.
I saw Ben surf this board in 3 to 4 feet (or so) powerful Alley rights and it seemed to have the elements Ben was hoping to find.
I will say that the difference between the Warner dimensions Kai is surfing and some of the models in my range is marginal, but I think that is where current design is at across the brands in high performance low volume multi fin shortboard shapes.
That is marginal differences that make a big difference.
Thanks Kai and Brett for the inspiration.