JASON STEVENSON STARTED FROM NOTHING, JUST A GROM WHO WANTED TO SURF. THEN HE REALISED HE HAD TO GET A JOB, SO HE MOVED TO THE GOLD COAST AND STARTED ON THE BOTTOM RUNG IN A SURFBOARD FACTORY. HE IS ONE OF THE WORLD'S BEST SHAPERS, WITH ONE OF THE TOP TEA
JS, one of the leading shapers in the world was in Cornwall recently.
How long have you been shaping? Since 1999 when was I first started JS Industries and the Tractor label. So nearly 21 years.
Has it been an easy track, or would you say or have you had ups and down like the rest of the surf industry?
I’d say nothing is easy. We have had ups and downs like everyone else, highs and lows. And global economics affect all of us, surfboards aren’t immune to that. So yeah it has been a rollercoaster ride but I don’t think its ever been hard. But I think I have been fortunate working with good surfers and working with good guys building boards. Everyone who works for me has worked with me since I set up. Matt Branson is my head laminator but the sanders and laminators have all been there since day one.
That is a sign of a good boss!
I hope so! I’ve been harsh but fair. We pride ourselves in the quality of board we build and we are recognised by the retailers as building the best boards they get. I think that’s been a real strong point that’s got us through a lot of the hardships that the surf industry faced. Also people just want to buy a surfboard even when things get tough. Even more when things get tough. You just want to get back to that happy place, and everyones wants to go surf. So we are not immune but it’s been good.
How have you found the transition from hand shaping to CAD?
I love it. Obviously I have come from that background and I was one of the first to accept and work with the software. I think Ned Hyman was one of the first but as soon as I got involved with it I loved it. I was probably one of the first owner/operator companies. I bought machines which were built locally, off Mikey ‘the German’, he built the first app machines. I was one of the first to get one and never looked back. I think even the other guys in the world now copy the top guys CAD shapes and work off them to produce even better boards. So yes I was one the first to be hands on. I jumped all over it. I think my age may have helped, but I wouldn’t say I was competely computer literate, but when it came to designing surfboards and the machine I knew it was important to have good relationship with the CAD and the machine and the output. There was one machine and now there are five, and now we are working on designing new machines. We are even making and refining our own machines. So you have got to know software, the machines, the nuts and bolts, so I’m not just shaper. I kinda of know all of it. Plus I have really good people around me who are involved in building all of this stuff.
There are so many variables in surfing, hydro dynamics, personal preferences, etc how do you go about designing and getting inspiration these days. Is it from team or F1 or science?
I think because I am a surfer myself I do a lot of the design aspect and I do all the testing. There are things in there learned from the Americas Cup I learned about like the finishes of boats and water friction and what finishes do that are relevant to surfboards. How to finish a surfboard in particular for the elite who get the most benefit of this information. But not too much else. I think it is a unique sport, it’s dealing with waves, individual surfers and styles, so there are no wrongs and rights.