NICK CARROL WITH HIS INSPIRATIONS WEIGH-IN
Nick Carroll with his addition to the pantheon:
I’m fascinated by the surfer/designer interaction and what springs from it. You could compare it to other things, but that is a shit way of describing anything.
The first shaper who taught me things was Ron Wade. Ronny was based in Mona Vale, near where I lived on Sydney’s northern beaches. He was not a fashionable or cool person at all, just a straight up working man who was very good with his hands and built excellent surfboards. I didn’t really have a clear idea of where I was going with surfing but fucken hell, I was only 17 at the time, you just want to surf! Ron made me the first boards on which I had real competitive success, then his business copped a thrashing in the recession of 1979 and he quit surfboard making for many years. I used to be a bit worried in a teenage way that he wasn’t all that cool of a name in surfing, until Col Smith told me, “Ron Wade’s one of the best boardmakers you’ll ever see.” In the end he let me go with some good advice as to where to look for my next boards, and I realized he WAS cool.
Terry Fitzgerald made me the first boards that actually spoke to me — told me where I wanted to go on waves. Fuck, he made me some gems. One 5’8” Drifta on which I won an Australian title. Heaps of beautiful pintails and Sunset guns. A 5’10” double wing round pin with a weird little single concave through the center bottom where everyone else had those shit belly channels. That board was so purely fast, it forced me to admit that going fast was my primary surfing urge. Like, fast lines drawn directly, getting the timing down right. That was early 1984. In December that year I saw Al Byrne a lot at Sunset, we surfed a heap together. Al’s six channels had always caused me to stop and gaze like a hungry dog. One day we were getting out of the water at Val’s Reef and Al said, “Man we’ve gotta get you on some channels.” My heart lifted like surfing’s never quite made it lift before or since. I rode AB’s channels and nothing else for nearly a decade and just totally found myself as a surfer. Al is no longer with us but I still have a full killer quiver of them - 5’9” to 8’1”, all hard, unforgiving, incredible surfboards.
I first surfed with Maurice Cole not all that long after he got out of jail in 1978. We just instantly clicked as surfers, had very much the same thoughts and feelings about it and about the kinds of lines we wanted to put on waves. I hardly saw him for years, he went to live in France for one thing, but then got back in contact a little bit before he and Tom Curren went crazy with their magic quivers in 1990. In mid-1996 he sent two boards over from France, one for me and one to deliver to Kelly Slater - I was living in CA at the time. They were peas in a pod those boards - deep single concaves, slight vee entry, slight vee exit, narrow swallowtails - and they weren’t just stupidly fast, they turned on a dime. (Kelly won two events in a row on his and shut down the world title that year.) Maurice’s fantastically direct approach to board design really appeals to me, and his feel for how curves work is unparalleled in my experience. His boards allow me to surf at close to full tilt even as I enter the back half of my 50s.