Stab In The Dark: Shapers Series - Cole Simle

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posted by James Willmott


Welcome to the latest instalment of the Stab In The Dark Shapers Series, featuring Cole Simle.

If Stab In The Dark is the main event, then please consider the Shaper Series as special features.

Presumably you’ve already watched our 36-minute film, in which Dane Reynolds takes 13 of the world’s best (unbranded) surfboards to South Africa for 10 days of rigorous and unbiased testing and flexing.

In the Shaper Series, a joint with our pals at Swell, we delve a little deeper on the other side of the coin; we step into the shapers’ bays and syphon their thoughts and reasoning around their art, and the board they shaped for Stab In The Dark 2016.

So, what did we tell our shapers? Boards to be delivered by June 1 in either LA or Sydney. Surfer is 6’0” and 190 lbs (86 kg), but will remain anonymous. Shoot location, South Africa. Surfboard must be 6’0” but width, thickness and volume all open to interpretation. Oh, and blank, blank, blank. Completely void of all branding or recognisable features like unique carbon patches. This is not a paid-for board guide – our readers are too savvy to make informed decisions based off that. Yes, there will be honesty. Every board will have positives and conversely, every board will have negatives. And, there’s a chance the board could break first wave, first turn, first air. If it does, apologies, you’re out.

“I chose to do something a little off-track from the standard high performance shortboard, because I had an idea the surfer might be Dane,” said San Clemente shaper Cole Simler. “It would have been easy to just duplicate something that had already been proven and play it safe, but I know Dane doesn’t mind experimenting.” I thought my model ‘The Blackout’, with a deep bonzer concave, might grab his attention. As I was putting the bonzer concave into the first board I shaped, my sander grabbed and caught the tail so the concave ended up being way deeper than I intended. So, I went ahead and made him another one, but when I got the first board back – the one I made a mistake on – it looked pretty sick. So I rolled the dice, and gave him the one with the deeper concave. I figured he would probably really like it, or hate it. But I just wanted to do something with a different feel and look.”

“My first couple of waves I didn’t like the way it felt,” Dane said of board #90. “It didn’t want to roll over on rail, but after a few waves, I started liking it more. It had pretty good drive but wanted to stay really flat. I started getting around that, and feeling its potential… then when I was hopping across a flat section, my heel went through the deck. I don’t think it will have any more liveliness. That one’s done.”