Photos by Hunter Thomson
I was stoked to get an invite to this year’s McTavish Trim event at the Byron Surf Festival, and even more excited to shape a board with Bob to surf in the event. Over the last couple of years, I have had the chance to work closely with guys that have been in the industry for a long time and have learnt a lot from them. To get the chance to work with a great shaper like Bob McTavish and a great glasser like Billy McLean was extra special, and an opportunity that I feel very privileged to have had.
Bob took the time to show me around the factory and go through his templates to come up with an outline for the board we wanted to shape. I had never shaped anything as big as the 11 foot trimmer we were making so I was keen to get Bob’s thoughts on bottom curves and rocker, things like that.
Part of why I love shaping is that it seems to be a mix of a trade and an art. There are times where you want all your numbers and lines to be accurate but then at some stage during the process your eyes take over and it becomes more about how the board looks and feels. You can experiment and compare the board you're shaping with boards that you have previously shaped and surfed. Shaping with Bob just confirmed that sentiment for me. He had recently shaped a board for himself that had really pinched rails, so we experimented with mine and made them slightly softer.
I was excited to get the board in the water, and when I came to pick it up I was stoked with how it looked. Billy is an exceptional glasser, which really shows in his work. When I took the board out for the first surf I was thinking about the rails and I feel like we got it right. It trims great and I can turn it a lot easier than I was expecting.
As an aspiring shaper, I understand that there is only so much you can learn from reading books and watching videos. There is something very valuable in learning the tricks of a trade first hand from someone who knows how, and Bob knows how.
I don't know about Bob, he had to put up with me bombarding him with questions and touching all his stuff, but I had a great day shaping at the McTavish factory. Bob did a lot of fixing up my mistakes, so it was probably more like a hard day’s work for him, but I had great time....!