people always ask me if tyler really makes all his boards by hand or if that is just the image we convey of him in the films. well, i recently stopped by to shoot a few things in his glassing bay for a little project i'm doing and there he was... as usual, quietly building boards. now when i say building, i truly mean building. over the course of six hours i watched him jump between four rooms, sanding in one, polishing a second board in another, checking up on a fin he was setting on a third, taping a new resin layer on a fourth and patiently keeping one foot in the main room for the various groms who kept stopping by asking for advice on their equipment. zeke is the real deal.
then he was off on one of his triumph motorcycles to grab some lunch. i absorbed the quite space and reflected on the isolation. the resin fumes tweaked my brain into a rather even keeled state. just me and 5 beautiful works in progress. the silence was a bit loud.
zeke motored back and we talked bikes - i've been wanting to do a motorcycle film for a while - i've actually even tried to raise some money - tough economy to raise money in. we then talked cars. the factory looks more like a car repair shop these days than a surfboard factory. he put on a pot of coffee and we chatted about different design ideas and logos as we looked through old magazines from the 1950's.
i don't know if i benefit more from seeing his work ethic or just the passion he puts into building new equipment. either way, he is focused and inspired and it's contagious.
i told tyler about an old jacobs i had pulled from my neighbor mike's rafters - maybe a '64. it was dirty and hadn't been ridden for ages. i told mike that a sweet board like that needed to be enjoyed. he agreed and before i knew it, we were pulling it down and i was off to the beach. it was a small but clean el porto saturday, tall paul was posted up at rosecrans and i joined him. the board worked really well for me. i grabbed one set wave and high-lined through a one block section (that's a decent wave in these parts). upon kicking out, an older guy on the inside, bearded and weathered, eye-balled the d-fin on the jacobs. i could tell he was calculating from deep memory about what year the board was built. he stared long, he stared hard - it kinda made me uncomfortable. the ride had been good but i thought maybe i snaked his kid or something, then unexpectedly, a slight smirk pierced through his lips. he gave me a head nod and the double -that's right count 'em kids - two - the double thumbs up. an elder's respect for riding old equipment well, my day was made. it actually made my month.
i tend to like these "plankier" heavy single fins that i can drop knee turn and speed trim through sections - like it or not, i guess i've fallen into the 60's mold of a south bay power surfer.
tyler explained to me that my style and ability to sink the tail forgoes my need for a lot of rocker on a long board. he said, essentially, the rocker throws off my flow from sinking the tail, pivoting the board and shifting weight forward to gain speed. that's why- in his mind, i enjoy these older boards- they suit my style.
it wasn't long before we excitedly discussed the possibility of building me a new tyler off these older design theories. zeke is thinking something in the vein of a 60's pig - with a really nice tail outline, a bit pulled in around the nose - limited rocker, no concave, some belly roll and super clean round rails. i was stoked. the next moment was unexpected - tyler walks me "out back" and lifts up a tarp. now i've spent 9 years of making two movies around tyler but i've never seen this little area... it is here that my heart stops - some 7 or 8 classic 60s logs lie in a patch of grass - it was really weeds but grass sounds more romantic - a velzy, a hansen, a jacobs. he pulls out that jacobs and says, "here- try this one out, see if the outline works - we can adjust from there."
as life goes, since tyler handed me that board, i've been too damn busy to ride it. but alas, i will put that beauty into some surf and he and i'll will sit down again, with another cup of coffee and we'll draw out my new ride for summer.
more to follow.