Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Tiki International bring top shapers to Britain

It was a real privilege to have the opportunity to meet two of the world's leading shapers last night Bob McTavish and Steve Walden along with former pro-surfer turned Aloha ambassador Richie Lovett. The event was organised by this country's leading surf brand Tiki International and was an opportunity for local surfers to hear from some of the people at the cutting edge of the industry and sport as well as to meet a couple of people who might fairly be described as legends.
Bob McTavish (McTavish Surfboards)
Bob McTavish has been shaping boards for over 40 years and is credited, along with Nat Young and George Greenough, for starting the shortboard revolution. In 1965 he made a trip with them to Noosa resulting in Young's extraordinary thin-railed, high-aspect-finned board dubbed "Magic Sam," which he used to win the 1966 World Contest and kick-start modern performance surfing. McTavish Surfboards have gone on to win numerous world titles and lead the cutting edge development in modern longboarding. But he is not a man to rest on his laurels and last night was explaining how he is working on bringing about the possibility of quad longboards, having so far perfected them up to 8' and up to 9'6" for guns. He also pointed the way to the future through lining up the placing of the fins with the individual surfer's foot which he said makes quads work like they've never worked before. Above all what came across was a no-nonsense down to earth man with a love of life and a great sense of humour with whom you'd be delighted to share more than a beer or two. I look forward to reading his autobiography which I was told is due out in the Autumn and have no doubt will be a cracking read.

Steve Walden (Walden Surfboards)
Steve Walden is known by many as the Godfather of the Modern Longboard having shaped his first board in 1961 and never looked back. Eight years later, the native Southern Californian opened his first board factory and store in Huntington Beach before moving to the North Shore of Oahu in 1972 where he made a name for himself as a prolific longboard shaper. While the rest of the surfing world was fixated on short single fins, Walden continued faithfully to hone his longboard designs. By the early 80s, he returned to California where he unveiled his widely successful (and patented) Magic Model with its radical rocker, down-turned rails, and super-fast Turbo Hull bottom contour. With arguably the most advanced and high performance longboard on the market, Walden Surfboards were uniquely positioned to capitalise on the resurgence of longboarding in the late 80s and 90s. A modest, friendly and open man he is above all a surfer and when you listen to him talk about his designs it's clear that his quest for design perfection reflects his own personal passions of progressive surfing and noseriding and it is this that the Magic Model most reflects.

Richie Lovett (Aloha Surfboards)
Richie Lovett's awesome ability as a surfer and his easygoing and honest nature made him not only one of the most feared and revered competitors on the WCT Tour, but also one of the most respected amongst his peers and the industry. It therefore came as a shock to everyone when he was diagnosed with cancer and underwent surgery that required, among other things, hip replacement. Since then he has been an inspiration to all with his gentle and modest nature hiding a grit determination which has seen him get back into the water. In addition he has taken on the role of designing the Aloha range of boards using his intimate knowledge of what goes into the surfboard of a Top 44 competitor. But if anything he perhaps represents something of the soul of surfing and is most certainly a worthy ambassador.

The photos above are copyright of leading surf and wedding photographer Jamie Bott and feature, clockwise from the top left: Me, Bob McTavish and Chris Preston; co-founder of Tiki International Tim Heyland; Steve Walden with his Magic Model; and Richie Lovett.

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