Dust is blocking my nose and the smell of resin is creeping into my head. I’m watching a master at work: Corey Graham is deep inside his own world creating something new.
Ideas just sit with me for weeks, even months sometimes! I dream about them and if I don’t bring them to life I won’t stop dreaming about them.
This board he is shaping right now is one of those ideas. I suddenly realise that I’m not only meeting a legend at work – but he is actually making something completely new here. A prototype of it’s own.
It’s mesmerising to watch and I nearly forget what I am here for: To capture the birth of a new surfboard! So I get my camera out and shoot… let’s let the pictures tell stories…
He shapes about 10 boards a week. Traditional handmade style. with the help of his father Russel Graham and apprentice Taylor (seen in some of the photos here).
Shaping a prototype takes: vision…
… a keen eye…
… and experience.
I don’t really have a plan, it just unfolds in front of me as I shape.
As he is drawing rough outlines onto the blank he tells me this. Clearly this ‘idea’ has been in his head for a while – his lines are thought through and the positioning of his pen accurate.
Corey shaped his first board when he was 13 and has been doing it for 23 years now. He’s set base in one of Australia’s history of surfing’s most important places: Torquay. The birth place of global brand: Rip Curl and nearest town to the infamous Bells Beach where the World Surf League religiously stops over every year to hold the famous Rip Curl Pro surfing competition. Not a bad place to be for a surfboard shaper.
The Rip Curl Pro also happens to be the reason for my being here in Torquay – but with onshore mess and lack of swell I thankfully find myself with spare time to meet new people like Corey.
He is one of the few shapers that does the whole deal: the shaping and the glassing – but in my limited time here in Torquay I don’t get to see the full process and my little photo story here is focused on Corey shaping.
As I start capturing what’s going on it seems like Corey has forgotten that I’m here. He’s measuring out the positions and angles of the fins and works his way around the tail of the blank surfboard. Drawing lines and marking areas that he will later remove or carve out.
The initial draft is complete. Now the shaping really begins.
This prototype is being shaped back heavily on the tail which gives the board a lot of kick – like the tail or nose of a skateboard. Additionally Corey starts shaping out streamlined grooves forcing the water passing below the board to move along towards the outside of the tail – creating a steady drive. Combined with up to 5 fin option most likely a fast and fun board.
All kinds of tools are used to shape a board…
… but in the end it comes down to fine sanding paper – polishing the final curves and lines.
I ask about modern/new ways and techniques of shaping boards: Why not use more environmentally friendly materials? Have you ever considered different materials?
Oh yes, but I like the traditional way of shaping. Surfing has been taken to the next level – nowadays it’s become all scientific and I leave it to the scientists to come up with the new stuff. My customers value my work because of it’s tradition.
The inspecting eye. Corey checking that his work is to his liking.
The board is taking shape.
Apprentice Taylor is sanding some repaired boards and making sure everything is as smooth as it can be.
Nothing out of place.
As my short visit here comes to an end I start to understand and get a feeling for it all and I’m glad I got to meet such a talented and experienced person of the industry.
The final specs of the prototype:
5’9- 18’5/8- 2’5/16 “MERCURY”
Vee’d rails to concaves in the centre, to deep quad channels with a big skateboard like kick tail.. 5fin option..