Simon Anderson…

Simon Anderson…

Join us as we delve into the Carve Classic archives for some all time trips and interviews, we caught up with Thruster inovator and surf legend Simon Anderson. Originally featured in issue 183.

Monday mornings are generally are a bit disagreeable. This one wasn’t. A morning spent drinking fine coffee whilst chatting with one of surfing’s most influential figures is a pretty good way to ease your way into the working week…
Interview & photos by Sharpy

First up: what the hell are you doing in St Agnes?
I’m here working with Jeremy at Walters, shaping some new boards and sorting out the boards we’re doing. That and actually going surfing, sounds like we timed it well as it’s been really fun. Plenty of swell, good conditions, it’s been nice down at Porthtowan. We were supposed to go for a surf this morning but we had to meet up with you so thanks for that … (chuckles).

Right. Let’s get to the meat of it: In board design is there much experimentation left to do or is it more refining what we already know?
Good question … I guess there’s experimentation left to do. I’m not sure who’s going to do it. Generally if you’re going to come up with something it has to fulfill a need you might have. In surfing today, especially at a pro level, the way they’re surfing on a wave it’s hard to imagine what more they need from their equipment. They’re going higher than they need to go on aerials. They’re going so fast on a lot of occasions they have to grab the rail to keep the board in the water. So I don’t know where the inspiration is going to come from, but if there’s a new design, a new step forward, it’ll obviously be a great thing for all levels of surfing.

Was that how it went down when you conceived the thruster, how long did it take for everyone to adapt to the classic three-fin set up?
That’s kind of what happened, it didn’t just help me competing on the world tour at the time. It helped all levels of surfers. It took me a good 12 months to adapt, it gained acceptance after about six months in ’81. I’d won a couple of events and was leading the tour so it was pretty obvious it was working. Pretty much after the comp season in Australia it was accepted worldwide. There were still doubts how it would go in Hawaii. That was my mission for the rest of that year: to prove it in Hawaiian waves.

If design is pretty much levelling off are materials the next big leap?
Yeah, maybe, I’m always hopeful there are better boards around the corner. That said, I’m not a chemist, I’m not good at sourcing new materials. Obviously there are people working on that kind of stuff. We have a system. If it ends up under the feet of the crew on the WSL then that’s all the validation you need. I keep my eye firmly on those guys to see what they’re doing and see what they’re surfing. At Trestles a lot of them were surfing epoxies. There’s been a bit of a merry-go-round with epoxy technology for a while but it seems to be gaining traction. It’ll be interesting to see where it leads. There are a lot of new combos of carbon and stuff, it’s mainly cosmetic, stylish even, not sure how functional it is.

It seems whatever shapers try we always loop back to the classic construction from fifty years ago?
Yeah that’s right, that’s been the case over the years definitely, we always end up back with regular foam and fibreglass. It’s a damn good combination, it goes well, it’s fairly durable, easy to shape, it looks good … it’s our standard. If a board doesn’t look like a normal board there’s been a problem with that in the past. The marketplace now seems to be more accepting of different looking boards, new technologies, and eco-friendly construction and all that so it’s in a healthy place right now. Getting back to your earlier question there’s no new stuff, there’s just the application of combining old style with modern elements.

Which shapers have inspired you?
I’m always looking at what’s coming out. When I was learning how to shape I was inspired by the local northern beaches crew in Sydney. I had guys like Geoff McCoy, Terry Fitzgerald and Col Smith to aspire to. In the case of Col and Terry they were great surfers and good shapers so I was lucky enough to be around those guys and learn from them. In the years after the thruster came out Al Merrick and Rusty did a lot of good work with the shape of that style of board. Of course a lot of guys contributed to the shape of the modern surfboard we see today. More recently Tomo is doing some really interesting stuff. There are a lot of shapers I keep an eye on. If I see anything that I like, the fact we work on laptops with shaping software is so useful, if you see something that catches your eye you can commit it to the program and pump out your take on it. It’s a nice time to be a surfboard designer. In the old days if you wanted to try something new you had to do it from scratch from the blank, it took quite a while to shape it, to change a board just slightly was a difficult thing back in the old days. These days you can you can make an eighth of an inch adjustment nose and tail and be fairly certain it’ll be accurate.

Are the top level guys that attuned they can pick up eighth of an inch differences?
It’s a great thing, especially for the high level guys, to get that 5-10 percent edge on their competitors. Some guys will get ten identical boards. Say Mick Fanning, he’ll get ten, disregard three or four just by looking at them, surf the rest and within a wave or two he’ll know if they’ll go good. He can evaluate ten boards pretty fast. You can change a rocker by an eighth of an inch which you can’t see but you’ll certainly feel it.

With boards for the common man is the future short and fat?
That’s a good question. The tour guys have been on similar equipment for a few years, and they’re pretty small. Not sure if they gone that much wider, but the nose and tails are. The rockers are a bit flatter. They’ve gone down and now they’re coming back up. Kelly was on 5’8″s and 5’9″s now he’s on 5’10” or 11″. For the recreational surfer they’ve got such a wide range of practical shapes that’ll give them more fun in the surf. One of the challenges of our profession is to make boards that work in crappy one-foot onshore surf and also go well when the waves are good. Unfortunately it can’t be the same board.

So the ‘one-board quiver’ is a myth?
(Laughs) I reckon it is. I don’t think you can have a one board quiver and really cover everything properly. For me the more boards the better, obviously it depends if you can afford it, if you can there’s nothing better than having a proper quiver.

Do you still tinker with fin design?
No. No I don’t muck around with fin design. It’s too complex. The best advice I can give is find a fin you like and stick with it. That said if a board isn’t feeling that good it’s remarkable the difference a change in fins can make. So keep an open mind.

Are glass-ons the ultimate?
Glass-ons have a different feel, yeah they are probably the ultimate in performance because they’re super smooth going through the transition of turns. But you do get used to the feel of fin systems and they’re way more practical. Also, unless the factory specialises in it, board makers aren’t as skilled as they used to be at doing fixed fins. Single fins aren’t hard, but doing three fins has always been a difficult job. That’s why the fin systems came out. The leading systems are all pretty good.

Kelly’s pool has been in the news just a bit. You think it’ll be useful for design feedback?
I’d like to hire the pool for a week and ‘do some testing’ (chuckles) do you think he’d let me do that? It’d be great but all it would be good for is fine tuning. Finding that super magic board. You could do what we talked about earlier. Surf ten boards and see how they go. The wave is perfect, just like Kelly.

What advice would you give the WSL moving forward?
Commercially I couldn’t give them any advice in financial matters as I’m not that smart. To me the current situation is idyllic, it’s everything we would’ve dreamed could happen for surfing. I know the surfers on it have some complaints and some issues. If I was to give them any advice it’s to listen to the surfers. They know where the sport needs to go and they know the deficiencies in the tour. To me it looks it pretty damn good. I know they have to make some money at some point. But I love the product, I love watching it … if the time zone lines up.

Finally … surfing in the Olympics?
Personally I’m against it. Purely because some host countries are landlocked. It doesn’t seem a good fit to me. Maybe in a wave pool situation I’d be in favour of it. It would need to be run like gymnastics not how it is now. It would definitely be controversial whichever way they do it. You’ll still end up with John John getting an eight and Jordy getting a 7.9 and everyone shouting. That said it could be interesting…

English National Gallery

English National Gallery

After a week where the forecast flip-flopped from eight-foot offshore Fistral bombs to total slop come last weekend it ended more the sloppy end of the pitch. So the call was made to move to the English Nationals to the shelter of Tolcarne and considering it’s one of the UK’s leading closeouts it wasn’t actually too bad. Very contestable conditions. Congrats to all the crew that went big. The Men’s and Women’s Open finalists earn a spot in the team to go up to Scotland in April (fingers crossed) for the British where the squad for the ISA World Games will be decided. This is the last chance for an Olympic spot for a lot of keen crew from the non-surfing superpowers.

All photos (loads more below the results): Sharpy.

U18 Girls
1. Alys Barton
2. Lauren Sandland
3. Belle Betteridge
4. Tegan Blackford

U18 Boys
1. Noah Capps
2. Stan Norman
3. Beck Adler
4. Max Bullen

Women’s Open
1. Peony Knight
2. Ellie Turner
3. Alys Barton
4. Lucy Campbell

Men’s Open
1. Luke Dillon
2. Stan Norman
3. Barnaby Cox
4. Seth Morris

Ellie, Pea and Amy Dyer.

Alys and Tegan heading in.

Moody skies Sunday.

Double divisions no bother for Alys.

Alys Barton made the finals of the Women’s Open and won the U18.

Belle Betteridge got 3rd in the U18.


Ellie cracking it.

Lucy Campbell back from Oz to lock in her spot for the England team to go to the British. As all the finalists do.

More P.


Fresh back from high seas adventures Peony Knight took the Women’s.

Noah Capps took the U18 Boys.

Reubs got knocked in a stacked semi-final.

Seth Morris made the Open final.

Alan Stokes Stornoway Sessions…

Alan Stokes Stornoway Sessions…

Pro surfer Alan Stokes takes professional musician Neil Halstead to the Outer Hebrides to explore the wild surf and meet Pete Fletcher, the owner of the most remote recording studio in the world: Black Bay Studios.


UK in warm with pumping waves February freak out…

UK in warm with pumping waves February freak out…

Generally, in the UK we yearn for winter classic days and take our quick windows of opportunity where we can. Especially in February when it can be snowing and your wetsuit is a frozen block in the back of the motor. It is not the norm for it to be pumping for a week straight, with record-breaking warmth and constant offshore. It was legit shorts weather, parts of the land hit 20C yesterday while getting lit up by the swell of the year so far. No idea what is going on but we like it…

Cribbar Friday (first shot is Fistral on Sunday, all bigger pics by Sharpy)

Mark Vaughan was down from Welsh Wales on biz and rocked up to the Cribbar Friday looking very dapper. Him and Nate then found out it was a bit too windy, both snapped their sleds. Monday was the day for the Crib.

Somewhere in the southwest all lined up and dreamy.

Badlands bombs.

Markie Lascelles shralping instead of shaping.

If you could get a spot in the Gwithian car park Sunday you could have had a sniff of this.

South Fistral.

Josh Ward enjoying a quiet Sunday session.

Bearman relishing a rare spot. Shot by Andy Holter.

Meor mood… Shot by Warbey

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I think I’m gonna print this one, BIG.

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Not forgetting the start of this run of swell over in Ireland…

Fistral chunks… Shot by Andy Holter

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Some chunky waves this evening

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Cribbar was cooking Monday… Shot by Concrete Ocean

Combesgate Bombie by Paul Barrington

Rob Miles, Wales. Photo Michael Norman

The system what done it…

Nazaré Challenge results and gallery…

Nazaré Challenge results and gallery…

Grant Baker (ZAF) is the winner

Nazaré lived up to the hype today with a class day of action from the big wave elite. All eyes are now on Sunday’s biggest, cleanest ever swell… Eeeeek.

Two-time Big Wave Tour Champion Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker (ZAF) won the World Surf League (WSL) Big Wave Tour (BWT) Nazaré Challenge today in the incredible 25-to-40-foot surf at the infamous Portuguese big-wave venue of Praia do Norte, Nazaré.

The event launched early this morning in glassy conditions with 25-foot-plus wave-faces around the high tide mark and as the tide dropped conditions got heavier and heavier to culminate with large surf in the 35-to-40-foot range, with occasional larger sets. Mike Parsons, Big Wave Tour commissioner has granted this event a Silver coefficient, meaning results in Nazaré will carry a 10% increase in points (e.g. 11,000 points for the winner).

A relatively discrete surfer in the opening round and the Semifinal, advancing in third place in both heats, the South African from Durban peaked at the exact right time to pull off some of the most incredible drops and rides seen all day in Nazaré during the Final. The tall and powerful regular foot went both to his forehand and backhand in the Final to score an incredible 8.67 and 7.70 on his way to a first victory in Portugal.

“I don’t believe it, this is insane,” Baker stated. “These kids were going so hard today and I can’t believe I’ve still got that in me. That 8.67 was the wave I’d been waiting for, it came right to me and I ended up being super late, it was a crazy big section. What a day, just perfect, perfect Nazaré, it’s a dream. Lucas (Chianca) was the man to beat and Natxo (Gonzalez) got that crazy barrel in the semis, somehow I got lucky and I got out on top!”

The 2013 and 2016 Big Wave Tour Champion, Baker has time and time again proven to be a threat in all conditions when the waves hit maximum heights. Today he came out on top of one of the best days of big wave professional surfing ever seen.

The Final got underway quickly with good rides from most surfers, but undoubtedly Lucas Chianca (BRA), the defending event champion in Nazaré, got the better of the early exchanges. The young Brasilian posted a 7.17 and 6.23 to take a strong lead early on and continued to play with the massive lefts he’d been dominating since early this morning. His ability to drop late into the steep walls impressed as he navigated some of the best waves of the day.

Baker answered with good lefts at first, going back up into the wall to score turns on the shoulders for his first two scores. He then switched to the rights, to pull two huge drops into shorter rides to continue to build momentum.

Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) places third

Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) waited 30 minutes to start on his first wave, but his patience paid off as he launched into one of the most critical rides of the Final to post an 8.17 and position himself in second position. João De Macedo (PRT), Russell Bierke (AUS) and Alex Botelho (PRT) had a slower start to their heat and kept chasing waves.

Gonzalez moved into the lead with a second left quickly after, but Baker replied with a huge wave on his backhand, threading the face in a perfect line to post an excellent 8.67 and move ahead of the Basque surfer, relegating Chianca to third. The Brasilian found an excellent wave of his own to move into second with an 8.07.

The last three surfers started getting better waves in the 6s and 7s to stay in fighting distance of the lead while Baker, Chianca and Gonzalez continued to surf their own heat. But as time ran out, the situation remained unchanged and Grant ‘Twiggy’ Baker walked away with the win, closely followed by Chianca and Gonzalez. Botelho claimed fourth place, De Macedo fourth and Bierke fifth in his first-ever Big Wave Tour event.

Lucas Chianca (BRA) placed 1st in Heat 1 of Round 1 of Nazaré Challenge 2018

In his second year on the Big Wave Tour, Lucas ‘Chumbo’ Chianca (BRA) dominated his first two heats to qualify for the Final, and score the second-best single score of the day, a near-perfect 9.60 for a backhand barrel in Semifinal 1. Unfortunately, the Brasilian couldn’t quite find the same opportunities for massive scores in the Final heat and placed runner-up behind Baker.

“I’m super stoked but I didn’t fully accomplish what I came here to do,” Chianca said. “It was a perfect day and everyone was stoked to see these waves break. It’s a great way to start the season and I’m incredibly excited about the rest of the season. Twiggy is such a legend and a real idol I’ve looked up to when I was younger so to compete with these guys now I’m stoked.”

Third place finisher Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) had previously ridden the wave of his life in Semifinal 2, locking in a deep barrel with a high line on an impressive lefthander that came up abruptly next to the cliffs. The Basque surfer is building himself a solid profile on the big wave scene and will be one to watch as he takes on his first full season on the tour.

“After getting that 10 my day was pretty much over, I didn’t really care about anything else to be honest,” Gonzalez said. “I got one of the best waves of my life, in front of thousands of people including my friends and family so things don’t get much better than that.”

Russel Bierke (AUS) finishes sixth

Competition reached a climactic high in the Semifinals as waves started opening up, giving surfers a rare opportunity to get barreled at Nazaré when the waves are that big. Portuguese surfer João De Macedo was the first to capitalize with an impressive 9.20, Chianca followed with a 9.60 and Gonzalez pulled off the impossible with his perfect 10 point ride in the following heat.

Last year’s Big Wave Tour Champion Billy Kemper (HAW) bowed out in Semifinal 1 alongside compatriots Nathan Florence (HAW) and Ian Walsh (HAW).

Tom Lowe (GBR) placed 4th in Heat 2 of Round 1 of Nazaré Challenge 2018

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Final Results:
1 – Grant Baker (ZAF) 25.04
2 – Lucas Chianca (BRA) 23.31
3 – Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 22.71
4 – Alex Botelho (PRT) 22.06
5 – Joao De Macedo (PRT) 20.87
6 – Russell Bierke (AUS) 18.89

Nathan Florence (HAW) placed 3rd in Heat 1 of Round 1 of Nazaré Challenge 2018

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Semifinal Results:
SF 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 25.63, João De Macedo (PRT) 25.40, Russell Bierke (AUS) 21.47, Nathan Florence (HAW) 20.76, Billy Kemper (HAW) 18.23, Ian Walsh (HAW) 18.00
SF 2: Alex Botelho (PRT) 26.33, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 26.03, Grant Baker (ZAF) 21.60, Kai Lenny (HAW) 20.33, Nick Lamb (USA) 14.00, Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 2.50

2018/2019 Nazaré Challenge Round 1 Results:
Heat 1: Lucas Chianca (BRA) 22.31, Billy Kemper (HAW) 17.23, Nathan Florence (HAW) 16.91, Francisco Porcella (ITA) 14.63, Greg Long (USA) 13.77, Antonia Silva (PRT) 8.36
Heat 2: Ian Walsh (HAW) 24.34, Russell Bierke (AUS) 14.86, João De Macedo (PRT) 13.84, Tom Lowe (GBR) 12.16, Rodrigo Koxa (BRA) 9.36, Will Skudin (USA) 3.80
Heat 3: Jamie Mitchell (AUS) 19.57, Kai Lenny (HAW) 16.83, Natxo Gonzalez (EUK) 16.26, Jojo Roper (USA) 14.71, Pedro Calado (BRA) 14.20, Andrew Cotton (GBR) 13.73
Heat 4: Alex Botelho (PRT) 20.37, Nic Lamb (USA) 19.43, Grant Baker (ZAF) 18.13, Makuakai Rothman (HAW) 15.33, João Guedes (PRT) 10.16, Nic von Rupp (PRT) 9.70


The 2018/2019 Big Wave Tour hosts three events: the Nazaré Challenge, the Jaws Challenge, and the Mavericks Challenge. All holding periods for this season are now open and will await the biggest waves until the season’s close on March 31, 2019. For the Jaws Challenge and Mavericks Challenge, the world’s best male and female big wave surfers will await conditions that will produce waves in the 30-to-60-foot range. Once the decision is made to run the event, a “Green Alert” is issued and competitors will have 48 hours’ notice to be ready to compete.

The WSL Big Wave Tour is proudly supported by Surfline, and Corona, with a special thanks to Nazaré Challenge partners Jogos Santa Casa, Visit Portugal, Portuguese Waves, The City of Nazaré, MEO, Hertz, and Praia do Norte.

Ian Walsh ( HAW) placed 1st in Heat 2 of Round 1 of Nazaré Challenge 2018

Cold Cornwall…

Cold Cornwall…

A smattering of shots from a stunning Sunday in sunny but frosty Cornwall… Hope you enjoyed it as we’re about to be hit by snowmageddon.

All photos Sharpy prints available here.