Words by Bob McTavish
Photos by Hunter Thomson

Throughout my years of shaping I’ve always found the best way to prove or disprove the viability of a shape variation is to figure out what could be better in my current rider, and then hack into it! Rip some glass off, rework the foam, and re-glass that area. Maybe add some foam offset or Qcell. Maybe add some extra fin plugs, or a finbox, and try different fins. Take it out again and surf it.
Makes perfect sense and you can feel the difference immediately. Why shape a new one and wait for the glassing, sanding, and finishing to be completed? It’ll be a different board, unfamiliar. You just can’t NAIL the difference unless you modify your existing current board you know so well.
The Witzig photo at Lennox from Autumn of 1968 shows where the first Tracker was too heavy in the nose, so it copped a good scooping and a re-glass. Surfed great till it snapped in half at South Wall Ballina. Had to paddle across the river on half a board with a trawler chugging by and sharks frolicking in its wake.
So when Chonno and I carefully studied the excellent footage of him ripping California’s Rincon last month we discerned that as he emerged from the sucky section he always retreated from the nose. Hmmm. Maybe if we gave him an edge on his shallow concave he could generate more lift?
Let’s do it! We cut the glass off, shaped in an edge concave, got Billy to re-glass it, and voila! Back in the water in two hours. The difference was remarkable. Sustained noserides onto the flat, enhanced nose steering, a very successful research event! 

Top image courtesy of John Witzig