julien roubinet

shaper

Beach House Classic Part V: Gerry Lopez - Lightning Bolt

One of the moments of pure joy during the making of our book was finding Eric Beyer's cache of rare and treasured surfboards at Beach House Classic Surf Shop in Bay Head, New Jersey. We've already shared the stories he told us for his Michael's Fremont double-ender egg, and his beautiful blue G&S with the original fin. In the final installment of this series, we're very excited to share the story of this 7'6" rounded pintail Lightning Bolt. Over to Eric.

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"Lightning Bolt Surfboards got its start during the shortboard revolution. The company was founded in 1972 by Gerry Lopez and Jack Shipley, and by the end of the decade it had become the most iconic surfboard brand in existence. Known as “The most frequently tubed surfboards in the world”, the label dominated big waves line ups all around the globe. Lightning Bold boards were ridden by the best surfers from coast to coast."

"This gem is an iconic 7’6” round pin barrel rider. It came to me as a trade in from a customer from Belmar late in the summer of 2003. He had stopped surfing because of a knee injury suffered in his mid 20s. When he brought it in, he told me stories of getting some serious hurricane surf at the L jetty in Avon as well as point breaks from Montauk to Point Judith, RI."

"Later that fall, I got to ride it in some really nice overhead Bay Head South Swells and had a blast! It was super progressive considering its age. It really held in well, it was quick out off the bottom turn and caught waves like a dream. I was carrying Lightning Bolt surfboards shaped by Craig Hollingsworth at the time, so I figured I would give him a call."

I told him about the board and he asked me a few questions. He wanted to figure out if Gerry Lopez had actually shaped it or not. Craig told me that based on the resin (not painted) bolt and the ultra-fine resin bolt pin-lines on the deck, one of Lopez's signature details, and the fact that "a pure source" was written along the bolt, it was almost certainly shaped by Mr. Pipeline himself. The capstone that confirmed his suspicion is that the signature is on the resin surface, not a laminate placed under the resin. It currently hangs on our shop’s ceiling above a painting of Lopez surfing Pipeline behind the counter."

Huge props to Eric Beyer for sharing so many great stories and boards with us. If you get the chance, pop down to Bay Head and check out the store for yourself! 

Finally, we're very excited to let you know that we are now accepting pre-orders for our book Ice Cream Headaches: Surf Culture in New York & New Jersey. Grab your copy today!

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet

portrait, feature, shaper

Lucid Dreaming with Luc Rolland

In your wettest and wildest dreams of surfing, where your soul drifts apart from your body to surf mystical breaks on rugged coastlines, shrouded in softly-lit morning mist, lapped with peeling, blue-green, head-high waves, and where magic wave-craft infuse your surfing with unequalled grace, Luc Rolland is your shaper. 

We were fortunate to get an opportunity to meet with Luc after two separate trips to France last year to enjoy the honestly-it's-tempting-to-just-fucking-move-there Côte des Basques. We'd seen Luc's shapes here and there online, but we had no idea what we were letting ourselves in for until we met the man himself. 

Luc was born in St Cloud, France and grew up in Biarritz where he spent time in the ocean and eventually learned to knee board. Aged 13, amidst the shortboard revolution, he saw friends ripping the lamination off longboards to re-shape them into shortboards. “I couldn’t believe they would trash these classic old boards,” Luc said. “I asked my dad to buy a polyester slab and I made a board for myself. I just painted it because we didn’t have resin. Two sessions later it went to pieces,” he laughed.
 
Luc pushed his creativity in other directions. He told his mother he wanted to become an inventor so he would never have to make the same thing twice. He painted, drew and made sculptures. 
 

At school Luc performed poorly because he couldn’t stop daydreaming. “The school told me: ‘You don’t have the capacity to stay in regular classes’. My parents and I went to visit a ‘manual activities’ school where they taught vocational skills. My parents choose ceramics for me because it had potential to lead to a job. I was super happy - it was just the best three years!” After his vocational training, Luc was accepted to study at a prestigious art school in Paris, returning home each summer to build surfboards for his friends. 
 
Since then Luc has forged a living from his sculpture, painting, ceramics and, increasingly in later life, from his shaping. In his studio, relentlessly assailed by his cat Mimi, Luc showed us some of his work. 

Unlike most shapers, Luc doesn’t use templates, and he prefers not to use an electric planer when he works. He leafed through a sketchbook, showing the earliest formulations of his ideas. Some pages feature a single curved line, fuzzy with a few strokes. On the next page will be something radically different, yet clearly an extension of the same thought.
 

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“There is no accident, it is all conscious decisions,” Luc said. “There is a similar language throughout the boards. Some people call it retro but I like to say it is actually very modern. It is really hard to go back into the past. I have no interest in it.”
 
In his large cuboid studio, extraordinary, space-ship-like prototypes perch on racks. “This one is inspired by a cuttlefish,” Luc explained. Nearby are racks stuffed with longboards, mid-lengths and fun-shapes, a pick-n-mix of perfection. Many feature robust ¾” stringers and most are either white or black, understated, elegant and glassed with astonishing precision, perhaps finished off with a translucent, pearlescent fin. 


If he doesn’t look to the history of surfboard design for the language of his craft, where is he finding it? “It’s like asking me, ‘why am I me?’ I have no idea how it comes to me. It is metaphysical! Creation is auto satisfaction - you get into a process of research to feel better. I am not looking at what others do, but we are always influenced by what’s been done. I learned through that, but now I want to go towards myself, towards my own ideas. ”

Though the space overflows with surfboards, we were surrounded by a thousand other experiments: functional ceramics, experimental sculptural forms, scratchings, paintings, etchings, sketches, strange surfboard fins, all of it physical and direct. There is a black and white through-line but this is interrupted by bursts of neon color and glittering metallics, almost in an act of self-resistance. 

“My mom was a drawing teacher, so there is this positive and negative, an inside and an outside. The line creates a vibration between the two spaces. Because I’m an artist, I have an idea and then I have a strong desire to materialize it. I believe in the idea of the perfect board and the perfect wave so when I work it’s more about a feeling or a sensation than a material.”
 
Luc calls his boards “rêve de surf de rêve”, or “dreams of dream surfing”, and dreamlike they may seem, until they find their way out of the studio and into the ocean where, for the lucky owner, those dreams start to get very lucid indeed. 

See more of Luc's work here.

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet

shaper

Campbell Bros X Son of Cobra Bonzer - Russ Short 3

When a new surfboard joins the Ice Cream Headaches family, we like to make a little fuss so it feels right at home. On this occasion, the board in question is a Russ Short 3, designed and shaped by the Campbell brothers and glassed by surly Frenchman Son of Cobra. It is a modern ode to the elegant, game-changing bonzer design we've written about before. 

How, we hear you ask, was this extraordinary resin work achieved? Paul cured and then shattered a thin layup of black resin, then mixed the flakes with white tinted resin before applying the mixture to the board. The result is a fantastic pain in the ass to sand, and exquisitely beautiful. 

The proud new owner is a very happy (some would even say smug) Mr Roubinet who has been waiting in ernest for the perfect swell to take this beautiful spaceship for a test-drive.

We wouldn't be doing this creature justice if we didn't show you how it surfs, so here's a little taste...

portrait

Zak Noyle

Even if you don’t know who Zak Noyle is, there’s a good chance you’ve seen some of his photographs. They’ve been published by ESPN, Transworld Sport, National Geographic and the BBC, not to mention in surf publications including The Surfer’s Journal and Surfer

At just 31 years old, Zak’s career has already included a meteoric ascension to one of the most hallowed positions in surf photography: Zak is now the Senior Staff Photographer at Surfer and he regularly takes on assignments to travel and shoot with some of the best surfers in the world.

We caught up with Zak to learn more about his work and what drives him. He talks very fast - almost breathlessly, sounding like the CEO of the hot new startup that is basically his life, excited to share his story and his plans.

Zak's journey into photography was catalyzed from a young age by his father who was a commercial photographer and who passed on some of his wisdom and a few tools of the trade. Zak began shooting photos in his single digit years and by high school he had had his water photography published in magazines like Sports Illustrated and Transworld Sport, where he took a full time job after graduating. At the age of 25 he started working at Surfer and now combines his day job with running his own photography business and a seemingly endless string of brand collaborations with the likes of water housing company SPL, surf company RVCA and swim fin company DaFin. 

“I grew up on Oahu and I came out of a swimming and water polo background. I had a natural swimming ability, but I hated it. I hated swimming laps and I used to hide in the shower. It’s come full circle now - swimming and learning that discipline has been important.”

Becoming one of the world’s top water photographers means becoming one of the world’s top swimmers by pre-requisite. The playing field  for taking groundbreaking surf photographs is most likely in the path of a 20 foot breaking wave, half a mile off shore and bobbing a few feet above a sharp, potholed reef.

“You want to be prepared,” Zak told us. “I swim 3-4 times a week. I swim a lot of laps, half of them with swim fins on to train to have my feet comfortable in fins. I view myself as an athlete now, so I need to be in optimal shape. A bunch of my friends are doing underwater breath holding training and I want to get into that too. In the end it’s the ocean and you need to respect it!”

Although the list of his achievements is frighteningly long already, Zak pulled off something of a career highlight at last winter’s Eddie Aikau Invitational in O’ahu. Pummelled by 30 ft waves closing out Waimea bay, Zak swam and shot the historic contest for 8 hours straight, capturing through his actions and photographs a truly memorable moment in surf history. 

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The Eddie Aikau ran on February 25th, 2016 in waves that were so big the safety of the contest itself was called into question. That’s pretty rare from the organizers: ‘The Eddie’ demands a minimum of 20ft waves before it will even run, honoring the fearless lifeguard and surfer in whose memory it is named. 

“I had never swum into 30 ft waves but I wouldn’t have done it if I didn’t think I could handle it,” Zak explained. “A lot of the times with waves, it’s strength and training and the experience that keep me calm. I knew physically I could do it, but mentally you have to be calm.”

Aside from the endurance required for this feat, Zak also truly understands the media demands of the modern surf audience. When The Eddie runs, O’ahu basically shuts down for the day with crowds of thousands gathering on the beach to watch. For those who can’t be there, internet livestreams, social media and TV broadcasts let people tune in from around the world. 

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Zak shot the Eddie on his DSLR in a water housing, but he used his iPhone from the water to wirelessly send the images he was capturing to the Quiksilver social media team. From there, they could combine them with the TV broadcasts or upload them to be shared on social media. “In between the sets, they need something else they can use to keep the excitement going,” Zak explained, “so I could send that to them from the water with my phone.”

We asked Zak how he had prepared for the day. “I had water and snacks packed and ready to go on the jet ski, but I actually didn’t eat or drink anything on the day. I hydrated heavily the day before with electrolytes and water. I packed extra batteries and a bought an extra phone so I could transfer the sim card if my iPhone died,” Zak told us.

With literally no food during the 8 hours he spent in the water, we wanted to know how Zak managed to keep shooting. “I was just fueled by adrenaline on the day. If the surf is good you have to shoot conservatively. You don’t want to have to go in and change your memory card because you might miss the shot!” Zak continued, “I was so mentally spent for days afterwards I couldn’t do anything. I didn’t even look at the images for 3 or 4 days - I just gave the photos to my agent.”

We asked if Zak took any major beatings out in the water that day. “I was nauseous with adrenaline and I did get completely worked. I got worked to the point where I had my hand on my rip-cord, but I didn’t want to inflate it, get dragged in and miss a wave. I’d waited seven years since the last Eddie Aikau Contest ran and I wasn’t going to miss a single moment out there. I wanted to be in the water, and just enjoy it. I have a photo of when all the skis came charging in on that closeout set and I just dived as deep as I could under the rolling whitewater. I had to dive 25 feet to get under that. It was pitch black and I couldn’t tell which way was up. That was a 2 wave set. If it had been a 5 or 6 wave set, I would be washed in on the rocks. For sure,” Zak laughed. 

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We were thrilled to meet Zak and see him participating in the RVCA artists program at the Unsound Pro event in Long Beach. His level of stoke, energy and enthusiasm seem boundless and he talks as if he’s only just getting started. Watch this space!

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet

feature

James Katsipis - Three Frames

James Katsipis, or "Catspiss" only to his closest friends, has a photographic sensibility rather more delicate than his nickname. He is truly dedicated to the craft of photography and has made a name for himself as one of eastern Long Island's leading lensmen. We asked him to share three of his favorite shots from the many years he has spent documenting oceanside life on Long Island and would you know it, he sent us a bonus shot we just couldn't keep to ourselves. Over to James for the back stories. 

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"The winter brings deep blue and shimmering silver tones to our line ups. This is my take on an early morning surf check at out local break, Ditch Plains."

Juno_(1_of_1).jpg

"Historic winter storm Juno hit the East Coast on January 27th 2015. There was a total travel ban across New York, but we knew the waves were going to be pumping. A few brave souls ignored the ban and fled to the ocean to be greeted by perfect, overhead, barreling waves. It's all about dedication to the love of our sport." 

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"Every surfer knows this perspective: the paddle out, waiting to take the first duck dive and get their first head-freeze to determine how cold the water actually is that day. This was one of the coldest days swimming I can remember. My hands were so cold they actually felt like they were on fire. I was shaking my hands underwater to try to get the blood to circulate in my fingers. The only way I could tell I was hitting the shutter was to listen for the sound of the camera firing."

BONUS SHOT

Winter_Wonder_(1_of_1).jpg

"It has been said that the Montauk Lighthouse is our Eiffel Tower. Nothing is better than swimming out off the coast of Montauk and seeing it from a perspective you just can't get from land."

Many thanks to James for digging through the archives to share these beautiful shots. Head on over to his site to see more of his work. 

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Words by Ed Thompson

Photographs by Julien Roubinet

shaper, portrait

Son Of Cobra

Paul with a Russ Short 3, shaped by Malcolm Campbell

Paul with a Russ Short 3, shaped by Malcolm Campbell

The factory that produces ...Lost surfboards in San Clemente, California is not what you might imagine. Three unassuming, blockish buildings house an operation that churns out thousands upon thousands of precision-made surfboards each year. 

Behind one building there is a small backyard, mostly taken up by an inflatable pool, swirling with liquid residue from paint experiments. The rest of the yard is full of junk, broken timber and an old Oakley sunglasses cabinet. Even rodents steer clear. A squirrel is once rumoured to have fallen into a bucket of acetone, never to be seen again.

At the end of one building there is a two-rack shaping room where Paul Lefevre, or Son of Cobra as he’s known, works on ...Lost’s special orders. 

Paul came to glassing through a combination of luck, mistake and sheer audacity - depends who you ask. He grew up in France and took a stab at shaping his first board aged 14. He went on to university in France to study graphic design. At weekends, he would visit shaper Axel Lorentz in Bidart to help out with board decoration. After he graduated, Paul took a year to travel across Australia.  

After some time traveling, Paul found himself in need of cash and approached Sean Wilde (Wilde Shapes) in New South Wales. As a wind-surfer, surfer and occasional shaper, Paul had only knocked together a total of less than 20 boards in his life. “Christmas time there is super busy for shapers,” Paul explained, ”so they were looking for extra help. I told them I was a shaper and glasser. They asked how many I could do a day and I replied two, maybe three. They said 8 was the minimum... But I got the job.”

Over the years that followed, Paul worked for Dale Chapman and Peter White (Classic Malibu) and in France’s Basque country at the Pukas Surf Factory, one of the biggest in Europe and the license holder for Matt Biolos’ ...Lost brand. Eventually Matt saw some of Paul’s work and invited him to come to California. Five years later, after a stint at UWL Surfboards, he accepted the offer. 

When we talked to him, it sounded like glassing, now his area of deep expertise, came to him rather than the other way around. “Yes, and I’ve started to regret it,” Paul said. “I see all these random guys putting out boards and no one is paying attention to quality. You can see there is nothing behind it besides a cool photo.” He continued, ”I’ve been shaping as long as I’ve been glassing but never advertised it. I find it sort of lame. Glassing is more underground but it’s incredibly important.” A good glasser can make the reputation of a shaper, Paul explained. “A number of shaper made their name thanks of the quality of the glassing.”

Paul with a Russ Short 3, shaped by Malcolm Campbell

Paul with a Russ Short 3, shaped by Malcolm Campbell

Paul’s passion for craftsmanship runs deep. He has mastered his art and, in an industry stale with recycled ideas, his innovation and creativity shines. Yet, in a spirit of artistic dejection, he argues that he cannot achieve fulfillment through board building anymore. “It is frustrating to see how the handmade, craftsmanship movement has become another marketing tool for large companies, overshadowing people who’ve dedicated their lives to it,” he explained.

Browsing Paul’s work, Julien came across this Malcom Campbell Bonzer and couldn’t resist. Paul’s ties to the Campbell brothers go back to his days at UWL. “I find it hard to believe people spend that much on a Hayden Shape when you can afford a board from shapers like Malcolm Campbell. He’s the most humble guy and super discreet. This board has a more pronounced double concave, closer to the ones he made in the 70’s. The fins are set at an 18º inclination, and there is a beak in the diamond tail. For the glassing, I used white tinted resin with dried flakes of black resin mixed in.” 

As you can imagine, the flakes create a lot of extra sanding work when the resin finally cures. But just look at the thing!

Word is though, while living in France he claimed he was happier in Australia… such is the permanent dissatisfaction of a Frenchman. And a true master. 

feature, surf session

When the magic happens...

Some days, the ocean works its magic. Friday the 8th April 2016 was one of those days.  

Balaram Stack

Balaram Stack

Last week, perfectly timed for a Friday we both had free, a 10 second period South swell whipped into the New Jersey shoreline for a one-day-only showdown. This swell angle and mid-length period, groomed by a steady offshore wind, sent absolutely perfect overhead barrels driving up the beaches all day long.

During the peak of the swell in the mid-morning there were barely even sets - just seemingly mechanical barrels grinding down the beaches to the whoops and cheers of anyone (read:everyone) who had the day off. Fortunately, we had made plans earlier in the week to link up with one of New Jersey's top pro surfers, Sam Hammer, to try and catch him in action.

Sam Hammer

Sam Hammer

As we pulled up to the spot, Sam had just broken a board. He sprinted up the beach, leapt the fence and dove into the back of his car to grab another before we could even say hello. A quick nod and a fist bump and he was back in the water in about 2 minutes remaining there for at least the next 4 hours. 

Sam Hammer

Sam Hammer

Hucking gear up and down the beach for the whole day gave us a decent workout, but it also yielded some photos we're really stoked to share here and a few special frames we'll be even more stoked to share with you in the book. Enjoy!

portrait

Hotdogger - Rendez vous au New York Surf Club

We are delighted to announce that a preview of our project is now available in Hotdogger, an awesome french surf magazine based out of Biarritz, France.

It features Chelsea Burcz, Mikey DetempleJoseph Falcone, Chris GentileMichael Halsband and Tom Petriken.

You can pick up your copy in France in places like Colette, Vans, Helder Supply and more!

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shaper, portrait

Mick Mackie

A couple weeks ago we drove down to Bay Head in New Jersey to interview Clay Pollioni (stay tuned for an interview preview!) On the way back, we stopped by Phil Browne's shaping studio in Asbury Park, The Heaven Sap. We wanted to meet with his latest guest shaper, Mick Mackie, an incredible innovator who has carved a living from foam and resin for the last 30 years in New South Wales, Australia. 

Mick is quiet, unassuming and seemed somewhat surprised that we'd come out to see him at work. It shouldn't have been a surprise though - we were very excited to see him in action.

Mick makes some pretty unusual looking surfboards, drawing inspiration for several of his outlines from snow-surfing, a proto version of snowboarding. Snow-surfing uses a fish-tailed board, with familiar surfboard nose shape, but includes an in-swept, concave tail outline, making it look even more fish-like.

Cracking open a beer, Mick explained to us that the convex shape in his "Sidecut Fish" design lets the rail dig deeper and engage more sharply against the water surface during a turn, which gives the turn a smaller radius and more bite. 

And concave tail outlines are only the half of it. Mick is also delving deep into the possibilities of flex tail builds. When he'd finished his beer, he set back to work helping Phil prepare a carbon fiber and resin layup for an extraordinary looking board which was almost half flex-tail. 

Anyone who knows the economics of surfboard shaping (unfavorable) knows what a risk it is to try and forge a new path in the field of board design. Materials are expensive, labor arduous and the margins razor thin, even on the most popular designs.

Mick has thrown caution to the wind and is currently using carbon fiber, kevlar and fiberglass combined with flexible rubber compounds to build flex-tail boards that literally throw you out of a turn after compression, giving the release even more power and snap. 

When he's not blending snowspots and wave-riding to push the limits of surfboard design, Mick also makes damn fine single-fin pin tails and classic fish. To see some of his work, swing by Glide Surf Co in Asbury Park, New Jersey. But hustle up - they won't be there long. 

Video

Videos

Our aim with this project is to create original writing and photography based on our journey. Our journal is a place to share notes from the margins of what we're doing. Generally we want to offer something unseen, not just act as a messenger for other people's work.

That said, when something touches us and is somehow left unnoticed, we're very glad to spread the word. Recently we've come across two videos that have left us both frothing.

The first video is a collection of super 8, camcorder and hi-res footage put together by Duncan Campbell, the other half of Campbell Bros Surfboards, who, with his brother Malcolm, invented the bonzer (two long-base, low-profile keel fins near the rails and a regular single fin*). It features style masters Russ Short, Rob Machado, Taylor Knox... and the two brothers themselves.

It can sometimes be an uneasy relationship surfers forge with a storm. We are very lucky to enjoy this tribute to what hurricane Joaquin offered us in the Northeast, but in the same moment we must think of those in the Southern states who have suffered from it. 

Three local surfers, Jeff Anthony, Shane Murphy & Pete Egan spent one of the storm-swell days in Rockaway with cameraman Thomas Brookins. They came back (the very same day!) with some of the best barrel footage we have ever witnessed!

Enjoy: