A right with no name
There are still empty corners of the earth where a surfer feels they have been furnished with all that they need for the good life. We are anchored opposite a cute right that rolls you into a tight pocket, tickles down the line at a perfect speed and then horseshoes through an end section that bends the wall right back at you. Get the line right and it’s a neat barrel, an off the top and a cut-back section that lets you load up everything you’ve got on the rail. For natural footers on twin fins it’s a mini Utopia. “This might just be one of my favourite waves in the world, if only it were a little bit bigger,” exclaims Tyler Warren after cramming his twinny into a couple of micro tubes. Of all the boards on the boat, Tyler’s are the most alluring, the ones you are most inclined to pick up and run your mitts over and examine from every angle. The curiosity they inspire is achieved through a combination of classic outlines and artistic sensibilities. One is an Autumn orange 5’2” with a wide, rounded square tail and a more pulled in nose. “I kind of wanted a mini Simmons tail with a fish nose,” explains Tyler in relation to the design. It also features arc-shaped, glassed in, wooden keel fins. Tyler insists the keels are more than an aesthetic garnish, and that the elongated bases deliver maximum drive and hold through turns. After a couple of sessions, Tyler is concerned he’s placed the fins too far forward on the orange board, but it’s ok because he has made himself an equally impressive coral blue version with a slightly different keel set up and a crescent moon tail. I scratch at the wax and note the stringer is marked ‘bullet’ alongside the dimensions. The suggestive label makes me want to ride it even more. Now 31, Tyler finds himself producing between 30-40 custom orders a month. A firm advocate of the ‘ride everything’ approach, Tyler makes and surfs everything from old-school logs to big wave guns, but it’s his alluring twinnies that have been most in demand over recent years; everyone from Joel Parkinson to Tom Curren has ordered one. (See interview for a more comprehensive list). Tyler’s surfing and shaping are influenced by varied and disparate forces but as a kid, Joel Tudor’s exactitude, was a major source of inspiration. “He just always seemed to be on the right board for the day,” suggests Tyler. Tyler recalls being a wide-eyed grommet at a Californian long-board contest when Joel showed up. “I remember the first time I met him; we ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches out the back of his van.” Perhaps the best thing about being a good surfer/ shaper is that you don’t have to sponsor team riders to promote your craft. Tyler’s surfing is the perfect marketing strategy for his own boards. Something in the bend of his arms and the low crouch style gives his surfing a classical, throwback quality, but it’s blended with the raw edge of a modern power surfer. On the little Maldivian right with no name he tears into cutbacks and off-the tops, revelling in the looseness his craft delivers, but never once looking like he is trying to emulate the style of some bygone era. Tyler Warren most definitely has his own way of doing things.
We spend two days posted up at the right with no name. The swell never really arrives but the wave is so magical it doesn’t seem to matter. Riding his mini-finned bevel-railed, Ash Ward design Chippa seems to invent a whole new genre of surfing. The poor board is never at peace as Chip conjures every kind of trick there is – backside carving 360s, pop shove its and varials, finners and double front-side spins. Every ride is like watching a skateboarder perform a run on a snake park; Chippa’s inventive approach proving a little creativity can make any situation fun. After one dizzying ride, he kicks off right in front of me and with a bemused look on his face says, “What even was that?” Chippa’s surfing is so improvised that sometimes he doesn’t even know what he does. Asher’s almost poetic interpretation of the twin is again on display. Riding his 4’10” bat tail, every jink and trim forms part of a perfect whole. A single wave can span entire generations of surfing. A pure twin fin high-line followed by an air; a tail whip carve backed up with a cute parallel stance exit, a heat-winning snap used to set up a cheater five tube ride. There are no rules to his surfing and the evidence of so many influences makes it perpetually interesting to watch. When I ask Asher if he’d ever go back to thrusters, he winces and says with complete honesty, “I don’t know, everything just feels a little inferior after twin fins.” Meanwhile Robbie Rickard seems intent on dispelling any notion that twin fins are only suitable for lip tickles and nursed turns. Utilising his hulkish frame, Robbie slams the lip and furrows the rail without ever questioning the validity of such an approach. Boardwise he is mixing it up between three 5’8”s, all with over 30 litres of volume – an epoxy, Lost MR model with distinct flutes on the flyers, a jet-black, Ash Ward Eagle sword and his trusty DMS. Out of the water Robbie laments the fact the WSL aren’t a little more creative with their contest formats. It’s apparent that Robbie has grown up in an intellectually fertile environment. His Mum is a state senator while his father is a gifted engineer who designed the AKU shaping machine and software, which is used by top shapers around the world. Meanwhile Robbie is a part time law student, juggling WQS contests with uni classes and other sponsorship commitments. He even squeezes in a couple of days of part time work at a café to create the perfectly rounded life. Robbie’s anything but arrogant, but given his academic credentials he’s certainly not afraid to voice his opinion. He is concerned that the conservative, country-club vibe on the WSL is suppressing self-expression. “I don’t want to see any more scripted post-heat interviews,” he insists. Tyler Warren is content to tuck, weave and trim his way all over his new favourite wave. Enraptured by the little right, he puts in more time than anyone else – experimenting with different boards and even paddling out on his air mattress one afternoon. His comical persona is an ideal antidote for the long lulls; between sets he likes imitating the funny narrator in an old-school surf movie and is always looking for a left field or goofy take on the surfing situation. Get him talking about surf-craft though and his design knowledge is quickly on show. He’ll flip a board over that someone else is
riding, stare down the curves and break it down in his excitable brand of Cali drawl while stashing the visual info in his shaping brain for potential later use on one of his own craft. Resigned to the fact that tiny, offshore rights don’t fit with his aerial inclinations Matt Meola dons a radical looking, camo dive suit and sets out in search of good fishing spots he can access later. Instead he finds a cluster of painted-crayfish huddled inside a reef crevice. Matt is eager to make the most of the unexpected catch and after plundering a dozen of the spiky sea treats, resolves to make a final dive. His head is buried in a hole, clutching for a cray when he feels something bump hard against his leg. Startled, he spins out of the craystacked crevice to see a black-tip reef shark darting away. By the time he returns to the boat the typically upbeat castaway look-alike is spooked. He’s swum with sharks plenty of times before but definitely never been hit by one. His head is running through all the things, which could have gone wrong – like suffering a severed femoral artery in the middle of nowhere. Once he’s settled down he replays the scene for all of us in graphic detail – the size of the shark, (about as big as him) the force of the bump and the moment he spun around to see a predator slinking off into the deep. “I’m just baffled at how lucky I was,” he tells me later. That night we dine on fresh lobster – prepared with a little butter and lemon sauce it’s a gourmet feast for a motley crew. There’s enough for one whole lobster each and two for a few. Afterwards we all sit around and try to guess at the restaurant price of the dozen lobsters we’ve devoured. Meanwhile, Matt is enthusiastically congratulated for delivering the haul and not getting his leg bitten off.
Asher Pacey reaches into his manoeuvre archive as he cheater fives through an enticing arch.
Tyler Warren doing an excellent job as shaper, team rider and marketing manager for his own designs.
Tyler Warren arriving at the juncture where style, power and precision meet.