We sat down with surfer, shaper and now also Lapoint team member, Joel Stevenson, to have a chat about surfing and surfboards in particular. This surfboard shaper based out of Norway is originally from the sunny country of the kangaroos down under. Why did he end up in cold Norway and what’s driving him to shape boards here and not in a country where surfing is one of the biggest sports?
Hi Joel, thanks for taking the time chatting about boards with us. How did you end up in the surfboard shaping/ ding fix business? Is that something that is in your family DNA?
– It’s kind of a fairytale story how I ended up living here in Norway, like most others it was for love. I met my wife in Bali when we were much younger, but it wasn’t until 2009 we reunited and I moved to Norway to start a new life with her.
-Before moving up here I’d been living and working for many years on the southern part of the Gold Coast. It has great waves but it’s so crowded in the water it was killing my enthusiasm to surf. It’s been such a fresh change to come here and surf without so many in the water.
Where do you have your shaping base?
– I first started the ding repairs when I sent over my tools from my brother’s factory so I could fix my own boards. Then I thought, what the hell, I might as well open a small workshop at home in Kråkerøy, Fredrikstad to do repairs for anyone needing my services.
– I just started shaping after I broke 2 of my favourite boards, I was freaking out because it took too long to get new boards from back home in Australia, so I thought to hell with this I’ll just make my own.
So you put up the shaping bay here so you could have the «Ice Box” slab as a testing ground for the boards you are making?
– I had over 10 years of experience working in surfboard production at my brother’s factory (JS Surfboards) and a lot of knowledge from working along side some of the best shapers in Australia that work there. The first few boards I made myself I mostly used to experiment with the use of new composite materials. Learning how to combine different composites to get good impact strength while still maintaining the right flex pattern.
– Having a shallow slab wave like the Ice Box has been a great testing ground for both testing board strength and how to combine the right volume and rail thickness to get a board good for paddling so you get better wave entry speed, but still feeling sensitive and biting through turns, not corky or so chunky you feel like your trying to turn a long board. Also by adding a layer of reinforcement composite fabric under a layer of glass, it not only creates a layer with much higher impact resistance, but also removes the vibration and weirdness you feel in most stringer less epoxy boards.
The last couple of years surf board building and material has really changed drastically. Now shapers and manufacturers are more focused on working with eco friendly materials and more long lasting boards. You have brands/companies/materials now like Slater designs, EPS foam, Envirofoam from California, resin from hemp and other plant based materials who’s really in the forefront on this eco storm. What’s your take on this evolution? .. and what materials do you use in your Infusion Surfboards?
– I think board building is on the brink of a major change. There are many new materials available to make better/stronger boards, but due to longer, more expensive construction time both board builders and buyers aren’t seeing the value in it yet. There are companies like FireWire, Lib Tech, Slater Designs and others leading the way, offering these alternative products and it’s good to see it happening. The standard boards have a short life span and too fragile for their intended purpose.
Regarding boards, can you give us some insights on what type of boards/measures you are into building at the moment? Any hot tips on what to get for the Scandinavian surfers?
– Performance surfboards will never be indestructible because of the light weight design, but with the materials now available, at least now we have the chance to build them to be more durable than the standard fibreglass boards.
– So to me paying a little extra seems worth it to get a board you know can handle a bit more knocking around and not leaving you stranded without a board when those epic days of surf come along.
Thanks for the chat with us Mr! Really looking forward having you down in Portugal for the Lapoint team week in November and hopefully seeing you getting in some of those heavy Coxos pits!