A right with no name

Tracks - - Fresh Fish -

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.

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