The Shape of Things
Lost Surfboards shaper TOMMY DALTON of The Boardroom, was recently in California fine tuning his skills in the Jedi school of shaping. But instead of wielding a lightsaber, he was carving foam under the tutelage of master Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolis with the aid of a planer. To tune in to the latest designs under the watchful eye of such a legendary shaper is not only priceless for Tommy’s shaping, but also for the surfer of NZ who will have access to the latest design trends directly through his shapes. Tommy gives us a heads up on the trip. Fill us in on what you were doing in the states recently? Hanging out with the Biolos family, shaping, surfing, and taking it all in. You are the Lost licensed shaper in NZ, how important is having a direct relationship with one of the most respected shapers in the world Matt Biolis help your own shaping? It has been absolutely huge for me and my shaping career. I started going to the USA and staying and working with Matt [Biolos] in 2001, and have been going every year since, except for the last three years as my two boys were born. Matt sent me to Europe two years in a row to make the Lost surfboards at the Pukas factory as well. It’s crazy in the States for a young NZ shaper like me, as there are legendary surfboard makers all making boards within walking distance of each other, from where I was working in Matts shaping bay. When Matt wanted to shape boards, I would step aside and just watch, and there would always be lots of pro-surfers turning up with their magic boards, wanting to go over them with him and order more, and I used to stand in the corner and watch and listen like a frothing little grommet. I look at it like this - if you were a grommet that surfed great, would hanging out with Kelly Slater every year for two months do anything for your surfing? So yes, it has definietly helped with my shaping career without a doubt. With all this talk of pop out boards and machine shapes, how is the state of the hand shaping movement internationally? I think pop outs really affected businesses like mine globally a few years back, but I feel they have died right back. Possibly the learner surfer or first time board buyer will go for a pop out, but then once their surfing progresses they will want a board that is more individually suited to their ability from a surfboard shaper. Machine shapes have benefited both the surfer and the shaper giving great consistency, and they allow a lot more time to work on the finer details of the board and customers needs. And I have all the boards I make on file so you can reorder that magic board when needed. Have there been any revolutionary changes in board design and manufacture you witnessed in your stay? Matt has always been one to give new surfboard technologies a go and has lots of different technologies available at his factory. The latest one I have seen was an epoxy board vacuum bagged with a cork deck, super cool looking board! But all these other techs are a lot more costly especially down here in NZ, and they don’t surf the same as the tried and true PU board. I would say that at least 80% of Matt’s boards are PU like most of the boards built in NZ. Kiwi shapers have always had a reputation as being fine craftsmen, but many punters out there are under the influence that overseas shapes work better than a local shapers. You’ve seen the best shapes in the world and have a good knowledge of our own board building industry, lets put the record straight - how do our shapers designs match up with those overseas big labels? I think a lot of surfers will buy a surfboard because of the big label and they will not always be super happy. I think surfers should deal with a shaper and listen to what he is suggesting with regards to size, volume, and shape of board, as these aspects can make a huge difference in a board and help the surfer. I know an amazing surfer getting lots of overseas boards and he finds it very hard to get that consistency that working with a local shaper would give him, but he gets them for free. There are some standout world class shapers here in NZ, that know our waves and would work with customers closely to consistently create the best boards as your surfing and ability changes through the years. This is definitely how you will get the best boards... end of story. So from this research and development trip what can we expect to see in this summers STD shapes and how will that improve the bottom line, making us shred? I feel like we at The Boardroom have been consistently making boards that suit the NZ conditions. After a trip to the USA I always come back refreshed and enthused, full of new ideas and techniques, and I am always wanting to make team and customers boards the best they have ever ridden, over and over regardless of their ability.
As surfers, art is generally a big part of our lifestyle. As groms we drew waves in our homework books, we find driftwood shaped like waves on beach walks and shoot pics of ourselves getting shacked under rocks and trees that resemble waves.
You could say our lives are owned by the thrill of surf. So it’s only natural that we should reward the artist in us all. Nixon has generously come up with an amazing timepiece for each issues featured artist.
JEFFREY SMITH of the Coromandel proves you don’t have to be a seasoned artist to win the Nixon Art loot. In only his third painting ever, which looks uncannily like Leon Santorik pulling in on the cover of issue 139, Jeff expresses his love for surfing, after pursuing the art (excuse the pun) for the past six years.
LEFT: TOMMY AND MAYHEM WORKING ON DESIGN IN THE LOST BAY.
ABOVE: TOMMY TAKING TIME OUT TO TEST HIS SHAPES, JUST DOWN THE END OF THE ROAD FROM THE FACTORY.