TRAC­TOR MAN

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

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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.

PHO­TOS COUR­TESY OF JS IN­DUS­TRIES

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