Meet one of our talented staff members! When he's not at work, you'll most likely find him wherever the waves are pumping! Andrew has been warmly welcoming guests at Great Ocean Road Resort for almost 5 years. Inspired by a background in design and passion for surfing, Andrew began shaping custom surfboards and upcycling second-hand boards to save them from landfill.
One of Andrew’s custom surfboards is now a permanent feature on the wall in our newly renovated Reception. Andrew tells the story behind his board now on display at Great Ocean Road Resort…
What do you love about the Surf Coast?
I’ve been living in Anglesea full time since 1994 but we used to holiday here a lot growing up. My Gran had a holiday house in Noble Street which we would use especially during Christmas and Easter. I love the Surf Coast and Anglesea, it’s so picturesque with variety of surf spots in such a small area, as well as great bike and walking tracks!
Where did you grow up surfing?
I got my first fibreglass board when I was 13 but started surfing on coolites and surf mats when I was younger, about 5, during summer holidays at the beach here in Anglesea. I grew up in Geelong, so many times I would surf at 13th Beach as it’s fairly close, but the waves of the Surf Coast always drew me back to this area. I love the reefs around Bells Beach, Centreside being a favourite, with Guvvo’s right up there as well for fun and consistency. Point Roadknight is also lots of fun for longboarding when the conditions are right. I like to surf a variety of different boards from old style log malibus to shortboards, fishes and twin fin boards being a favourite at the moment, although I like to choose a board depending on the waves and how I’m feeling. As I’ve gotten older, I’m not as flexible as I once was and so thicker boards with more foam seem to suit me more!
When did you start shaping boards and what inspires you?
I made my first board when I was 16. I did a short shaping course (6 weeks) under the tuition of Ross Slaven who shaped for Rip Curl back in the day. So, at the end of the course I had a nice 6-foot square tail thruster. It’s a lovely feeling surfing on something you have created yourself. A friend lets me use his space for fixing old boards and helps me out, he’s been in the industry for years and knows all the ins and outs.
I love to collect different boards for riding, but I’ve offloaded a lot seeing there were quite a few not being used & I’d rather see somebody else get the enjoyment from them. The second-hand collectors’ market is huge now, when I first got into it there were very few people interested but now there are thousands of people collecting old boards from all over the place! I’m always keen when people say they have an old board that they are going to take to the tip, I’d rather fix it up and ride or sell it, so it doesn’t become landfill. I still have far too many boards, which I’m slowly offloading. Being interested in art and graphics, I love the boards from the 70s and 80s. They really inspire me, the colours, decal graphics and shapes are amazing.
What is involved in the process?
There are basically a few ways to shape a board, computer/machine cut or by hand. I like doing the latter, as half the fun is using all the shaping tools to get the end result, planers, surforms and sandpapers with various blocks. When shaping a board by hand you start off with what’s called the blank, this is the foam core of the surfboard. You can now get a variety of foam blanks, but traditional polyurethane is still one of the most popular, with eps foam (polystyrene) also now very common. I personally like the feel of the older traditional foam.
The blank comes in a rough surfboard shape, you then trace the outline of your board onto the foam using a template and cut it out. Truing all the edges so it's nice and clean, with flowing lines from the nose to tail of the board. You then use the planer to get the desired thickness and use the surform to smooth out all the high spots and planer marks. I usually like to keep as much harder foam on the deck of the board as possible and plane off the bottom. Turning the rails and adding the bottom contours and tail shape next. Finishing off by smoothing out the whole board, marking the fin position and routing plugs for the leg rope and fins.
Glassing the board is next, depending how strong a glass schedule you have will affect the finished weight of the board. With traditional poly glassing, a strong glass job is 2 layers of 6-ounce cloth on the deck and one on the bottom. Standard PU glassing on most boards would be a 6- and 4-ounce layer of cloth on the deck and a 4 on the bottom, which will make the finished board lighter. Next fin plugs get glassed into place. There are a variety of different fin system options, again it’s personal preference. Once the board has been coated in fibreglass and logos or stickers glassed on, the board needs to be sanded and then finish coated, which is more fibreglass put on with a brush, or pro finish is sprayed on. Then the board gets a final sand and polish.
Do you do custom orders?
I can shape custom boards for anyone who is after a board. I find it great fun and quite therapeutic! Any shape you want, from modern shortboards to more traditional older longboards. I can do artwork on the boards if you want as well.
What inspired the design for the board at Great Ocean Road Resort?
The board in reception was lots of fun to make. It’s a traditional fish shape but scaled up. A guy called Steve Lis, originally from San Diego California is credited with creating the design. He was a kneeboarder and when his friends saw how fast he was going and the positions he could get into on waves, his stand-up mates got the same boards made for them. The one in reception is loosely based on his shape which he came up with in the early 70s. It’s a long fish, with the fish outline scalloped tail and 2 fins – twin fin.
I’ve shaped a few fishes and this one is a little thicker for added buoyancy, although the rails of the board are still quite refined. I put a concave bottom on the board so it will surf very fast, but as it’s still a wide board so it’ll be stable. This board would suit anyone wanting to surf waves from knee high to as large as you want to paddle out into. I’d say 2 to 3 times overhead would be its limit, being a twin fin, they are generally a bit looser than your thruster 3 finned boards. Fun comes to mind when describing how a fish board performs. Lots of people have one for when the surf is a bit mushy and sluggish (which they surf well in), but they really spark up when the waves are good!
This board is on display at Reception in a little slot in the wall. I’d like to thank Damien for giving me the opportunity to shape a board for Great Ocean Road Resort, it was a lot of fun. Oh… it is for sale as well, if you are after a unique fish for your quiver.