Stab In The Dark: Shaper Series - Chilli

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posted by James Willmott


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 Stab and 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.

This episode, we sit down with 43-year-old James ‘Chilli’ Cheal, based in Mona Vale. “I went with our new ‘shortboard’ model that we’ve been working on with Lee Wilson, Jay Davies and Mitch Coleborn,” says Chilli. “It’s become the ‘easy’ shortboard to jump on and it works in all conditions and waves. I wanted to create something that’s amazing from a low level surf to the highest performer. I thought this was the perfect match for Stab in the Dark. The board has a medium curve rocker with a wider outline shape and a wider rounded-square tail.”

“It’s a Chilli,” guessed Dane with absolute confidence. “It has good board speed, paddles good, good floatation. Everything feels right and then I get up and I bottom turn and it drags through the bottom. Water comes over the rail on my heel. It might have just been because of the conditions. When I rode it a second time it felt like there was a top speed. It felt like it had a governor on it or something. It didn’t feel like a bad board, it just doesn’t feel familiar.”