From Foam to Fibreglass - A Harrison Roach Concept.
Thomas Bexon cross-steps when he mows foam. He walks up and down the surfboard blank as though he’s riding his 10’0 on a perfect, never-ending peeler. He keeps a rhythm and pace that I find physically hard to match. Just standing around watching tires me out. Thomas can draw an outline and turn a 10’ / 25” / 4.5’’ blank into a 9’6 / 23” / 3’’ in no time.* Dust and sweat clung to his beard as I watched his steps in the shaping bay at the Temple of Enthusiasm. Thomas had strode straight off the plane and picked up a planer. We’d just gotten back from our travels in Java and were both eager to get to work on the first ‘Deus - Harrison Roach Concept’ surfboard. After agreeing on an outline he took to cutting out the rails. Next he lay hard on the planer and cut down the thickness to 3 inches. As the dust became heavy, I wished I had a mask. Foam went everywhere. The all important rocker line was set and I began to imagine how it would help to hold the board high and tight in the pocket. Thomas began his painstaking work on the rails and bottom-shape and the extent of his skill became obvious. This is where the surfer/shaper’s understanding proves superior. Anyone can shape a surfboard. I’ve tried, but turning-up and pinching a rail like Thomas takes years of practice. I was happy watching from the sidelines. With Thomas’s job taken care of and my board shaped, it was time to move it along to the glassing room. When Deus first began the surfboard factory one of their main goals was to create a world-class glasser. While they’d be the first to admit they have not quite achieved that vision, they have come a long way from using resin on foam like paint on canvas. Over the last three years Dues resident, Victor Hadiyadi, has arguably become the best laminator in all of Indonesia. Renowned glassers Alex Villalobos, Jake Bowery and all-rounder Rich Pavel have all passed through the temple and guided him on his way. Joel Tudor rates Villalobos as the best glasser in the world. Victor has certainly had some amazing mentors, and it shows. I didn’t give him an easy job. I told him I’d like an opaque bottom, tinted deck inlay, deck patch and no pin-lines. He took on the challenge and blew me away. Victor was all class, and for those in the know… his lap lines were perfect. All that was left to do was design a suitable fin. Joel Tudor once showed me how to blend the curves of two different fins to make a new template. I put his theory to use and ended up with a custom fin drawn onto a piece of cardboard. With the help of the Deus crew we used the template to cut out and sand the new fin. In the same afternoon we glassed it on the tail end of the board and voilà! The first ‘Deus – Harrison Roach Concept’ surfboard was created. * A lot has changed since Nat Young’s board ‘Sam’ was shaped in 1966. Surfboard design has come as far from bellied bottoms as Jon Jon’s mid-air pirouettes have come from Occy’s under-the-lip carves. Our team is influenced by every era of surfing, yet we don’t endeavor to copy or recreate old designs. We strive to take the best of what has already been achieved and mesh the old with the new. Our purpose is clear: to create modern longboards. Thanks to the efforts of Thomas Bexon and the whole Deus team, my new 9’6 is the best longboard I’ve ever had. - Harrison Roach