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Tom Pratt and Chris Stevens talk to Global Surf Industry shaper Hayden Cox about the 2012 boards.

TP: Great to see the new GSI lineup that you’ve been a massive part of – how’s the whole process been for you as a shaper?

Every part of it has been a great experience really! From embracing the new business side of things right through to manufacturing and learning how to work with such a large scale factory team.
The technical side of thing has been amazing to work with – getting all the finer details of the board exactly how I want it produced. It’s been a real eye opener and a good personal education too.

A lot of big names have worked in the more ‘pop out’ style board Market recently but many have openly stated that there’s not enough accuracy with the final product compared with hand shaping, the GSI team seem to have this range pretty solid – how’s the final board from a shaper perspective?

The main thing today is I’ve personally designed the whole thing. They’re my designs, my technical drawings, my dimensions. The C & C machines we’ve been using are are so accurate and replicate it all time after time. In the past the technology has been lacking and the whole cheap mass produced pop out board has given the process a bad name. The guys we’ve been working with produce performance machinery and aircraft so the control is superb – there’s no guess work anymore, the whole thing has moved to a new level.

TP: Your experimenting with alot of new shapes and styles with this range – including fin setups and stingers, what’s the inspiration behind them?

They come from a variety of sources really – from the sidecuts to the concave outlines. My own personal surfing and also the shapers and surfers I’ve met too.
There’s a broader picture to the whole thing aswell and I try to incorporate ideas and innovations from all sorts of board sports – not just surfing. The sidecut for instance came from the way snowboards ride on the rail. enjoy picking up inspiration on the road too – word of mouth and other projects I’m involved in aswell.
The displacement hull was adapted from the Storm Surfers tow project I was working on with Tom Carrell. My aim is to merge the theory of other board cultures into everyday surf craft that will help people get more waves and have more fun.

TP: You seem pretty versatile as a shaper, and you have a great range of models, do you think that’s an important place to be with people swaying towards larger quivers these days?

For sure. It’s important as a shaper to use your own experience and riding style – I’ve tried everything from alaias to SUPs. It gives you a better understanding over a variety of perspectives – not just as a shaper though, as a surfer too.

And you’re right, alot of people are expanding their quivers to make the most of the variety of conditions they surf in – not everyone has a perfect point break on their doorstep!

TP: I’ve heard your GSI range described as the Ferraris of the surfboard world, is that justified?

It’s definitely the goal I set myself with this project! I always try to design and manufacture my boards to the best possible spec – and I approached the GSI partnership the same way.
I brought the raw materials and knew the process in which they needed to be made and we’ve worked together to bring this into the mass manufacturing process.
It’s the same ethos as Ferrari – use the best for everything and have the best quality control systems to make sure it all meets the same standard.

TP: What’s your personal favourite model?

The kryto – purely because it rides from 1-8 foot!
You can get barrels bust out powerful carves and maybe some airs if the conditions are right!
It’s an amazingly versatile board – to the point that when I travel it’s the only surfboard I bring with me.
Craig Anderson favours it too – it’s all about grass roots surfing and having fun.

TP: Do you feel having the support of GSI has allowed you to experiment slightly more design wise and push some of your ideas into the hands of alot more riders?

That’s the aim! It’s my first project with them and it’s early days in the launch but it’s definitely promising! Once we’ve refined the business model and I’ve tweaked the evolution of my business model with merging into the GSI side of things it’ll hopefully continue to grow.

TP: Out of the many new techniques and things included in the 2012 range – including super White foam and carbon rails – what’s got you most stoked, both as a rider and a shaper?

I think the future flex tech construction will be the most advantageous to the intermediate surfer – it’s lighter and more responsive under your feet but also adds alot of durability.
For me the range was about contructing boards that would help everyday surfer alot – that’s my target market, intermediate to advanced surfers – and the shapes and boards I’ve produced will hopefully fit alot of styles and wave types to help progression.

TP: How do you feel about where shaping and surfing is heading at the moment, with airs becoming the norm and people like Tom pushing finless surfing?

It’s awesome! I can’t really do airs – but I love watching other people bust them out!

Technical surfing is always progressing but the core of the sport is still there too – with big turns and rail control – but it’s about the versatility of the riders too now in the comps, people want to see it’ll all being mixed up a bit!

Shapers are pushing it too – the niche guys like Tom are focusing hard and everyone is pushing their own boundaries to expand the scope of surfing. As a shaper this means there are more craft than ever to design for – from SUPs to big wave surfing, small wave surfing and experimental surfing – everyones open to trying new equipment too which is great.

TP: Can you offer any insights on where your designing will be going and any projects in the pipeline?

I’ve got a few personal goals for my shaping at the moment. Ove rthe last 4 years I’ve been properly focused on the GSI range – and I’ve developed a solid range of boards that my team love to ride and that everyday customers can enjoy too.

From a business perspective I’ve also enjoyed it and that’s something to keep my focus on – pushing my business model and therefore the shapes I produce.
I’m also concentrating more on performance and contest equipment too – but throughout everything it’s the innovation and concepts that dirve me – and I’m not stopping anytime soon!

TP: And finally GSI say “life is better when you surf” ….what’s your reasoning behind this?

I totally agree with it!
The UK is doing my head in being onshore all the time I’ve been here, I’m frothing to get in the water! For me surfing merges with the creative side of my life and also my approach to everything changes when I’m surfing alot. My girlfriend will back me up on that statement – I’m a nightmare when I’m not surfing much!

Photo: Steve Baccon

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