Beautiful hand finished surfboards with stunning polished and richly delicious colored resin dips. What a mouth-full. Boards referenced from the past but altered for the present and future. That is how I describe what Black Apache Surfboards are all about. More importantly though is that these boards are all about FUN. After all the best surfer in the water is the one having the most fun. Even a non-surfer can appreciate these as works of art.
It’s about 30 degrees in Currumbin when I head out to Jesse’s Gold Coast shaping bay. Upstairs feels about 45! Luckily for me Jesse’s got the most organised, categoriesd , and climate controlled shaping bay I have ever seen. His background as a “firey” is what he reckons made him so regimented. He informs me that half the time wasted in shaping bays is usually locating lost tools. Not in this bay. Jesse’s a perfectionist. A true sculptor of the surfboard. One that feeds inspiration from the halcyon days of surfing, bottles it, shakes it up and adds his own elixir.
This very special feature is a tad self indulgent I will admit. To shoot such a classy shaper and have him shape my very own custom “Mini Simmons Deluxe” for “MrBlanc” was a real treat. For those non surfers out there, unfortunately I cant really find a parallel to explain this. So instead, grab a cuppa’ and see below for more info on what Jesse is all about.
Nicknames? Pigeon . First thing you do on a Saturday morning? Head to the farmers market and buy as much fresh squeezed sugar cane juice as they’ll give me. What makes Black Apache Surfboards special? Love and obsession. That makes them what they are. Is the Gold Coast a good place to make a home? The Gold Coast is a million things all rolled into on. Its not where I’ll see my days out, but its good for now. Coffee of choice? Sugar cane juice. Given that your lovely wife is a Bikram Yoga instructor, what’s your downward dog like? My downward dog had to been put down because he went lame. Is it really possible to attain modern performance in a surfboard that has its roots in superseded retro design? Define modern performance? I think it is possible because what is considered to be “modern” is changing. We’re taking old ideas and making them relevant. They have flavours of the past but feel like the future. This is the true future of surfboard design. Design in general and surfboard design in particular doesn’t just move forward, it goes sideways as well. We take an older concept and we refine it out in all directions till we find a higher level for that design. We make it relevant again. Surfing is often quoted as being better than sex. Discuss. I don’t think they’re doin’ it right. Do you believe in competitive surfing? I believe in fun surfing. And if they wanna make it competitive, sure fine go ahead, doesn’t bother me. I actually thought about designing a new tour a while ago. Back in the day and in surfing history a lot of world champs and surfing elite shaped their own boards. Guys like MP, Mark Richards, Terry Fitz’, Gerry Lopez. The list is endless. Anyways imagine a tour where you had to shape your own quiver, maybe even glass it too, and you had to have all types of boards (no thrusters) and on any given day either voted on by the surfers or pulled out of a hat was the type of board ridden for that event! Points would be judged on style, length of ride and stupidity. What d’ ya reckon? I just need a sponsor. Ultimate surfer you would like to shape a board for? Myself – I always want more boards than I have. Or maybe Mr Blanc? I hear he rips. What are you reading at the moment? 65 signs of the times, Gerry Lopez – surf is where you find it, earth – the beginning, Nick Carroll’ s guide to improving your surfing. And the bible… I like to read a lot, and I’ll read 5 books at once. Rugby or AFL? Neither. Surfing instead. Lets say I offered you a time machine for a day, where would you go and with whom? Id go back to Indonesia in the early 1970’s. Imagine all those waves with no one around? HT’s, Nias, Macaronis, Uluwatu, Padang Padang, Canggu, man that’d be awesome. I would go by myself too. I would have every set wave to myself. The best words of advice you have been given? “You can either have the rug pulled out from under you all the time or you can learn to dance on a shifting carpet. Should surfing ever be an Olympic sport? I’ll make that decision when they give me a start on the Olympic committee. Favourite surf break in the world? HT’s or lances right to the old fellas (in indo). It’s the most perfect wave I have ever surfed. I racked up 6 months worth of barrels in 1 day last time I was there. What’s the first board you ever shaped? A red rocket. Geez it was ugly and asymmetrical as all hell. My sister used to call it “lefty” because it looked like it would only go one way. People would go into fits of laughter at the sight of it, but dam it that little ginger step child gave me the best waves of my life there for a time and made me want to be a shaper. Is epoxy an evil word? Greed is an evil word, epoxy is a noun. Last but not least, Stones or Beatles? Going to run with Mick and his huge lips and gyrating hips.
Jesse has plenty of wisdom on his side as he throws down plenty of old skool tints and pigments, full gloss and polish glass jobs. Jesse aims to produce boards that are all about speed. As Jesse will tell you “with speed you can go anywhere”.
Jesse is a down to earth cat, that doesn’t take himself too seriously and believes surfing is about having fun… With Black Apache Surfboard, Jesse is bring fun back into surfing, as at the end of the day the “best surfer is usually the one who’s having the most fun.”
How did you get into shaping or decide to make a career from it?
I just love surfboards. I think about them at night before I go to bed, before I wake up, I dream about boards at night… it was a logical conclusion for me really.
Who were your mentors?
Richard Harvey, Peter White (Classic Malibu), Neil Randall (if6was9 surfboards) Peter Dron (tunnel vision glassing).
Describe the first board you shaped?
It was a dog, big fat wide asymmetrical fish. I had no idea what I was doing, no one to help me, and I shaped it in the back yard under my jacaranda tree, But it was the board that changed my life! I have the best memories of that board – including Tommy Carroll laughing hysterically at it at Palm Beach in Sydney one day (To be fair I used to burst into laughter too when I looked at it)
Who where your influences early in your career?
Anyone who thought outside the box, I always loved the crazy stuff, still do. there’s so much “uber cool” in surfing, I just don’t have time to worry about what the cool kids are doing. I always connected with the old school crew from the experimental era’s of the late 60′s early 70′s those guys were outcasts but they didn’t care all they wanted to do was surf. I respect that, its become the motto for my life.
Who have you shaped boards for over the years?
Anyone who was gullible enough to let me at the start, I’ve got a lot of good guys riding them now. A lot of guys who are paid/sponsored to ride other shapes are paying to ride mine which is very rewarding to me as a craftsmen.
Has there been any board that has stood out over the years?
The mini simmons, every time I ride one, every single time… I’m still waiting for them to catch on and get the following they deserve.
What designs have you been working on lately?
Mini simmons (non-stop!) lots of displacement hulls/stubbies, pigs and logs are popular for me too.
What makes your boards better then the rest?
I wouldn’t say they were better but we’re definitely different. All of our boards get the Cadillac treatment; we only make high end pieces of functional art.
Where do you see the future of shaping (e.g. board design, materials)?
I think eventually surfing will come full circle again. it always does. I think people are starting to appreciate a quality hand made product again, and I think the pop out mentality is wearing thin, and why wouldn’t it, Australian manufacturers make most some the best boards in the world.
What excites you with the future of shaping (e.g. board design, materials)?
Variety! – Surfing is becoming diverse again, the mass production cookie cutter pro surfing image is starting to crack and fade, and people are diversifying a lot. I love variety; people are starting to ride what they want to ride again, not just what everyone else is riding.
What words of wisdom would you pass down to aspiring shapers?
Stick with it. Pay attention to everyone who has something to say about board design, but develop your own theories that you can draw on. Ride as many boards as you can, and surf as often as you can.
Tell us why you love your job?
Because my life revolves around the ocean, the tide, design/creation and riding waves.
Anything you want to get off your chest?
I hate SUP’s! – get a 10″+ longboard instead!
Favourite shaping tools?
The new shaping Microplanes – they are awesome
Why do you use Shapers Fins?
Good range. Good price. Good guys.
What are the benefits of Shapers Fins?
Shapers are cheaper (but don’t compromise on quality unlike other brands), plus they have all varieties in one shop-simple and easy! Plus they have a better range of colours than the big manufacturers as well.
Why should customers use Shapers Fins over all fin companies?
A massive range which is always in stock, they’re local, I can go straight in, talk to the guys face to face and get exactly what I need. Easy
What is you favourite Shapers Fin Set(s)?
I love the SPFK – performance keel fins. I have used them on my hybrid/performance fish, ands I love them (it doesn’t hurt that I gave Dan the template either!)
(view the full feature at www.shapers.com under ” featured shapers”)
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