Max Tagg is a Narrabeen youngster who’s following in the footsteps of local legends like Terry Fitzgerald and Simon Anderson and matching his talent in the water with a blossoming career in shaping. While he is only just getting his board label started, at twenty years of age Max still has plenty of time to catch up with the gurus who have influenced in and out of the water. He’s also working hard restoring old boards, giving plenty of surfers a taste of their youth as they get their favourite boards of yesteryear back in the water.
SW: Tell us a bit about how you got your start as a shaper.
MT: I was originally doing marketing at TAFE and that was shithouse so I got a job at Weapon Surfboards with Marcus Gray. I worked there for about two and a half years then I left and started my own business.
Was that originally a ding repair business or were you shaping there from the start?
Yeah I was doing ding repairs and restorations and shaping some boards for myself and my friends.
So is the shaping taking off?
Yeah, it’s definitely improving. I’m getting about three orders a week.
Is it a difficult career to get into? Shaping doesn’t seem as popular an option now as it did back in the day.
It’s not as popular, but I’m not sure. I’m pretty happy with it.
What kind of stuff are you shaping?
I’m shaping everything from mals to shortboards and fun boards.
I’ve seen some shots of you getting some amazing waves at North Narra riding single fins. Are they something you are really into at the moment?
I’ve been riding Hot Buttered boards for a few years now and I am pretty hooked on them, so they definitely influence what I make. I share a factory with Terry Fitz so we work together. He’s the master so it’s good to have him.
Growing up in Narrabeen you obviously saw a lot of good surfer/shapers like Terry and Simon Anderson. Do you think surfers are lacking that knowledge of design these days?
Yeah maybe, but good surfers always end up on good boards. There’s not too much of a problem with those guys ending up on boards from China. It’s a problem for the industry but good surfers always ride good boards. They’re always going to find boards from good shapers so it doesn’t matter all that much.
What new stuff is interesting you at the moment?
I’m just enjoying experimenting with everything at the moment, trying new things and just having fun with trying it all.
And tell us about the restoration work you do on boards.
I do lots of restorations because not many people do them. There’s heaps of work and heaps of old boards around. There’s plenty of interest now that guys are getting back into riding those older types of boards.
Do you mainly do it for collectors or for guys who want to get a favourite old board back in the water?
I do it for both. There’s guys who find them at the tip and want to put them in their living room. Then there are guys who have had the board since they were sixteen and they want to get it back to its original glory. There are heaps of old people who come in for ding repairs and say, "Oh, you do restorations." And then they bring in boards to get done.
So what’s the process of restoring a board like?
It depends what’s wrong with them. Generally, I just cut them back and fix the dings with clear resin and regloss and polish them.
It must pretty exciting for guys to get an old favourite restored and take it back out for a surf.
Yeah it’s good. You show them the board and they remember what they had, it’s pretty cool.
Do they come up looking close to the original?
Yeah, they come up pretty clean. It’s pretty straightforward. I try and colour match them but I try to keep them as original as I can without changing the paint or anything, so you can see the wounds and see where it’s been. – Steve Nicholson