Lee Stacey’s shaping influences are many and varied. From Murray Bourton to the Hurley family, hardcore metal to skating he has drawn on many facets in his evolution as a board designer. And things are starting to pay dividends. His boy Mitch Crews is blowing minds and American superstars CJ Hobgood and Kolohe Andino are snooping around checking out his boards. Lee has never followed the standard surf path. Therefore, like his Californian co-conspirator, Matt Biolos, he is having a huge influence on surfboard design as the standard surf path is disappearing under a huge pile of awesome.
SW: Tell us a little bit about your influences as a shaper. Who and what inspired you and helped you in getting to where you are today?
LS: Different things influence my shaping. Surfing is definitely a part of it but it’s not where I draw my main inspiration from. Music plays a massive role in my life and in who I am. I draw a lot from the raw emotion that is put into a bands live show or song. The lyrics and the whole DIY mentality of hardcore and metal really influence my direction, and how I design and run my business. There’s a film clip by a band called Raised Fist and the song is called "Friends and Traitors". This what I’m influenced by. I’m also really into watching skateboarding, that really excites me. Seeing the lines they draw and how they get there gets me thinking about what I could be doing with my board curves. How it could help someone achieve something new on a wave or in their surfing.
For sure, and who were some of the shapers that taught you the craft in the early days?
Shaping wise, Murray Bourton gave me my start. Daryl Bulger showed me how to hand shape, Jason Stevenson taught me a lot, in a bunch of different ways and Luke Howarth helped me out so much in Sydney. I get a lot of inspiration from a guy called Mike Vallely, maybe not how he he deals with certain situations but for his passion for his sport. Bob Hurley and the Hurley family have showed me so much and have helped me out in so many different ways. At the end of it though my family support which includes my brother, Adam Wessel (The Glass Lab) has been invaluable.
Those influences have obviously had a massive impact. You are shaping boards for some of the biggest names in surfing at the moment like Kolohe, CJ and Mitch Crews. What are you learning from working with those guys?
Mitch is my boy. I love that kid like he’s my own brother, and every progression in my shaping as much as it’s for my own personal growth and the growth of my boards and business, it’s also to help him achieve everything. We work so closely on boards and what he needs, which more and more are translating over to the every day surfer, looking to catch waves and have fun. Kolohe rides for one of my close friends Matt Biolos, and through him I’ve been able to make Kolohe some boards to have fun on and give me feed back. Working with him and his Dad, Dino, is intense in the best way possible. The Hobgoods are another way for me to push myself and shaping, they have been around for so long and really know their equipment, which makes you work really hard to get them boards that work, let alone even boards they want to keep. These guys are what help me improve and what help my boards keep moving forward. I feel that at the level I want to be shaping at, not working with surfers of this level would be detrimental to me and my boards. You learn so much from making boards for different wave types, different surfers, and all of this gets translated over to the models I put out to sell to every other surfer around the world to enjoy.
Everyone seems to be going shorter and thicker in their boards. Do you think this shift is valid or are you more focused on narrower high performance boards?
Oh man, my boards have gotten shorter, wider and thicker and I can’t be happier with how I’m surfing and what they’ve helped me achieve. I’m not at all focused on narrow thin boards. Even when people order them, I’m trying to figure out how to add volume or change the board to make their experience of riding one of my boards the best experience possible.
Those guys are obviously pretty inspiring to work with. What about shapers? Who is at the forefront at the moment?
Matt Biolos, for sure, he’s a good friend and we always talk about design, what we are doing, why it worked, why it didn’t work. We talk about what we should be trying next. There aren’t too many guys out there that I have that kind of a relationship with. Not many guys really want to talk to you about this stuff, or give you that information. His passion for shaping is incredible and to be able to feed off of that is very inspiring. – Steve Nicholson