In last month’s issue (June) of Waves, we asked whether riding a pro’s board made you surf better. Our conclusion? Although their sleds didn’t give us any magical powers, they did allow us to wiggle out the occasional hack. Shapers have been milking this trend for sometime and have been banging out pro’s signature models for the general public. You only need to head down to your local surf shop and you’ll stumble across a plethora of freshly resined signature model sleds. Likewise when you rock up to your local surf spot. It’s almost a certainty that you’ll see a fair amount of the crowd sporting similar designs to those of their idols. So, what’s the deal? Why do people want to ride signature models and how do they differ from the ones the pros ride?
“If you were given the opportunity to drive a V8 super car, would you take it?” questions the man behind the JS tractor, Jason Stevenson. The legendary Gold Coast shaper continues by stating “You might not be able to drive it like a professional, but you can feel what it would be like to drive one. The same principal applies to all of my signature models.”
Jordy Smith riding his signature JS sled that took him to the final of the Quiksilver Pro.
It’s having the option of riding a notable shaper’s pro sled that really attracts people. His Goldy counterpart Darren Handley, of DHD, “I’ve been working with Mick Fanning for 17 years and all of our work has gone into his signature model. If a person buys one of his model they aren’t guaranteed to surf like Mick but they know it’ll work.”
Last year, Joel Parkinson came within an ant-pipe of taking home his first World Title last year on his never-ending flow of JS sleds. All was going to plan until he was plagued by injury and Mick Fanning claimed his second World Title on a DHD craft. Both Jason and Darren agree that their signature models are exactly the same as what Joel and Mick ride. “The only difference with my signature models occurs during the manufacturing process. The design and shape of the board is exactly the same. However, the boards I make for the public are a lot stronger. It gives them for value for money,” says Jason.
Now, we can get technical and talk about the curves and rocker but Darren certifies that it’s all the same as well. “The pre-shape is exactly the same. The shape is identical. The tail and nose measurements are the same. Even the fin placements are the same. The only difference is that my signature model boards are glassed a little heavier for the general public so that they last a little longer.” Value for money. Epic.
Why are people flocking to these boards? Darren reckons it’s a little thing called trust. “I believe people trust the fact that Mick and myself have put in the hard yards with the boards. We have Mick’s name on the model because we know it works for him. I think people want to try one of his boards because of the success he has had on them.” When you consider that Darren has two reigning world champs on his books, you’d have to assume you’re safe to trust the man.
Like we concluded in our own board test, the people who ride these boards piss talent and work with the finest craftsmen in the world. They’ve got it dialled. Frankly, if you purchase a signature sled, it won’t make you surf like the guy it’s modelled from. But you normal board probably won’t either. Take the gamble.