The signature on shaper Adrian Wheeler's email is "Surfboard Shaper-Board Guy". That's pretty cool. He also shapes boards for a Rusty team consisting of Josh Kerr, Jay Davies, Jayke Sharpe and Marlon Gerber. That's also pretty cool. Josh Kerr just recently won the Boost Airshow at Bondi (pocketing 25 grand in novelty cheque form, ching ching) on one of his boards. That's really cool. Aido's also been shaping for around fifteen years now, and is one of Australia's best in the bay. We called him today. Just to say hi and talk surfboards and things. Cool.
SW: Hey Aido, what are you up to today?
AW: Just shaping a lot of team boards at the moment. Guys come in to Margs after NZ next week. Running around like a mad bull actually.
So tell us about the origins of the board Josh Kerr is riding and won the Boost Airshow on last week.
It was pretty much coming off the Channel Islands dumpster diver, it was the flavour of the time. I had a model really close to it called the chevy which was a step down board also, if I'd gone short enough and wide enough I would have beaten him to it (laughs). Because of such a high profile brand like CI we get sort of asked, where's your version? "Ahh ok, we'll have to make one." So I designed that one and it's been pretty damn successful so far.
And does Josh work with you in working out a model like that or did you just present it to him?
Yeah I just presented it to him. I make him random boards and he grabs them from there and gives me feedback.
So tell us the lifespan of this particular board he won the Boost on. When did you give it to him?
I gave it to him up at the Quikky Pro when it started. We got it to him just in case it got really small, we raced it up to him. It would be a good board for Snapper 'cause you just race along if it's onshore Snapper but then they ended up getting it four or five foot. It's for quick sharp turns and getting through dead sections basically and having a lot of fun on them ya know. And that's pretty much east coast swells to a tee.
So this is a prett fresh design this one.
Yeah, I've only been designing them since just before Christmas. The board that he was riding was a fibre flex magic door and I'm pretty sure we sent it the day the Quikky Pro started. He surfed his round one heat and won that but surfed a different board in round three and didn't get through. When he flew to Bondi for the comp he knew he had that board and was stoked with it, so he took that board only. He didn't have a choice but to ride it.
He didn't take a second board? Pros snap boards all the time, that's playing a bit of Russian Roulette right there.
(laughs) That's Josh Kerr mate.
How did you come to work with Josh?
I've been making boards for Josh, I've been with Rusty for ten years. The first two I shaped for him I had to drop at Sydney airport. I'd never met him. I just got told what to make him by the team manager. I made him two 5'10s and that was when he won his air world titles in The States on them. I hadn't met the guy and he won two titles on my boards so I was pretty stoked. We've had a good relationship ever since.
So do you have a mind for shaping a board for an "air guy" (not to say Josh Kerr is just an air guy, dude charges)?
I used to think his boards were a bit different but looking at them now, they just want something that's slightly bit fuller. Even team guys can ride off the shelf boards these days. I get guys that come in all the time and just pick boards straight off the rack. There not looming for tweaky little rails anymore.
And are you seeing the boards that you shape for guys like Josh Kerr transcend down into the boards you shape for the public?
Absolutely. We've got a Josh Kerr model and they are exactly what we do for Josh and they're really popular.
I guess a lot of people are surfing shorter fatter boards now and they're having more fun on them.
Absolutely. They just work in all conditions, I've got guys who ring me and email me on the magic doors and they're saying they can ride up to four or five foot and they're holding in. So I'm stoked. It ticks all the boxes in one board.
So did you get down to Bondi on the weekend? What was it like for you to see Kerr win the event on your board?
I was away on a camp with my grommets for the weekend but I watched the footage and when I watch the guys surfing on my boards I get pretty damn stoked. I like to watch the footage also because I like to see how the board is tracking through the wave. I watch the tapes over and over again until I analyse the board itself and not what the surfer is doing.
So how'd you get into shaping?
I think I was 22. I'm 37 now. So 15 years. I started sanding boards for Hot Buttered under Terry Fitzgerald. I did that for about two years and Wayne Clegget the shaper there said to me, "It's time to buy some shaping tools." He taught me a few things. Then I was located down on Harbord road in Brookvale which was the epicentre of surfboards on the Northern Beaches. I had Brett Warner there, I had Chili, I had Bruce Hart and Steve O'Donnell. I had a kneeboard shaper, a mal shaper and three shortboard shapers down there and I could go and pick their brains. It was awesome. It was great to have because I had different ideas from each person and they each taught me different things. I was able to work out my own style from all of that.
Where do you see shaping going?
I think where we're at with shapes right now is pretty epic. The magic door is the flavour and I can't see that one dying off. Guys are even ditching their shortboards now and just think that that will do until it's four foot, then they have a step up board.
And then there are people trying to regulate the surfboard industry which is a big positive. We're pretty behind the eightball with regard to wages. It would be insane if we could get apprenticeships and that sorta thing because it's hard to get staff. And that would help the industry grow.
So you'd like to see it taken out of backyards and into TAFEs and the like?
Could you imagine yourself doing anything else?
(Laughs) I've asked myself that question. I love the lifestyle and industry too much. I travel all over the globe, I deal with surfers, I have a lot of fun in this industry. I have a lot. I've got no complaints. It's very hard to see myself doing anything else really. - Mike Jennings