Apr 11

Magic Munro

This board is like a self-help guide to finding your inner mojo.

“Please explain”, I hear you say. Well, my surfing has never been terrific but it is not altogether terrible. However, with the passing of age it is undeniably not getting any better. Sure, I may joke around, referring to myself as the Count of Carve, regaling how much I look and surf like Slater, but the cold hard reality is I do not.

Now often readers will ask me why I am so self-depreciating. Plainly put, I am honest with myself. I love my surfing but with work and family commitments I do not get as much time in the water as I would like. And yes, age and niggling injuries are catching up with me. And before someone reminds me, I know, Slater just won Pipe (The Pipeline Masters) at 50, but the guy is an out and out freak.

So, what does all that have to do with this board? Well, when the waves are good here on the Sunshine Coast I love getting out on a little 5’8” fish or an even smaller mini simmons, very occasionally a performance shortboard if the conditions are right, but in the main I surf a 9’4” log and 9’8” single-fin noserider. It had been a while since I had surfed a high performance mal. Indeed, one of the best I have ever ridden was by Mike Thompson, aka Mickey T of Raglan Longboards fame, HP model. But as I said, it had been a while between drinks.

Anyhow a few weeks ago I was passing my local surf shop, Beach Beat at Alexandra Headland, and saw a second-hand Brett Munroe 9’1” longboard for sale in the trade-in rack. I was tempted. The reason being is my brother has a few Munro shortboards and fishes, which I have ridden, and they’re all crackers. Plus, our golden rule here at Smorgasboarder is to support good people and not tossers. Brett Munro is not one of the former. He’s a real salt-of-the-earth bloke and I am stoked anytime I get the chance to catch up with him when passing through Byron. There are no airs and graces, he is not too cool for school, will always give you the time of day and more than happy to explain what he has endeavoured to achieve with each board he shapes – and he shapes a wide variety. I always recall what my brother said to me about Brett Munro which best sums up his demeanour, “He’s not up himself and there’s no attitude. He just listens to what you want, answers your questions, asks a few of his own and steers you in the right direction. You’re not made to feel like a dickhead if you don’t understand the intricacies of surfboard design.”

Anyhow, back to the story about this board. As I mentioned, I saw it on the rack and couldn’t resist it. It seemed super lightweight and I figured if I couldn’t get the best out of it, it would be perfect for my surfing buddy – my daughter Phoebe. It was late in the afternoon by the time I got home – a little too late for a surf unless I wanted to entice num num time, so I figured I would just have to wait until morning to christen it.

Any surfer knows how incredibly important it is to have the first ride on your new stick so even though it was more than likely going to end up in the arms of my daughter, it would forever be my board with that initial surf.

Paddling out I was surprised how quick it was. I thought being so lightweight it would have been thrown around in the choppy conditions but it rather skipped across the water. Then came the moment of reckoning and by goodness this thing was a speed machine. I could not believe how quickly you could move across the face and how much it performed like a shortboard. So used to riding a log I was initially outrunning sections before I could think of what to do on the face. Being more of a front foot surfer I found the round tail so much to my benefit in terms of easily turning the board on a dime. It had been quite a while since I had done a cutback on a mal (in my own awkward way). Suffice to say this board made me feel like I could surf again. It was rather a surreal feeling and I cannot thank Brett enough for allowing me to feel a little younger again and just that incy wincy bit more like Slater (on a longboard).

The Board

9’1″ x 22 1/4″ x 2 3/4″ modern longboard


burford blank with 5-ply stringer
6oz bottom, 6+4oz deck with tinted free-lap glassing, pro-sand finish

carbon fibre reinforced rails
10″ fin box with FCS2 side fins

The Shaper

Brett Munro has been shaping boards since 1974 – just shy of 50 years. He learnt to shape under the guidance of mentors such as Kingsley ‘Knackers’ Kernouski, Bob Davies, the late Al Burns, and Rod ‘Grub’ Dahlberg.

He has ventured far and wide from his native New Zealand in search of perfect waves, all the while fine tuning his shapes. In the summer of 1981 he moved to Australia and established Prana Surfboards out of an old banana shed in Coffs Harbour before eventually settling in Byron Bay in 1993 where he has been ever since.

You have to love the description of his factory setup on the Munro + Sons website: https://www.munrosurfboards.com.au/

“Tucked away out the back of the industrial estate, Munro + Sons is an old skool family-run, no frills, dust and fume filled factory where boards are still made entirely by hand, start to finish under one roof by master craftsman and living fossils, with decades of experience.”

Brett has shaped for state, national, professional and world title champions and is one of the few contemporary shapers who still hand shapes every single one of his models. Performance orientated in their design, Brett shapes a multitude of boards from twin-keel fishes and quads to shortboard thrusters, single fins and longboards. Best of all is his focus on personalising each one of his boards to suit his customers. As he explains, “We are a humble, small scale business, who have chosen to focus on building lasting relationships with every customer that walks through our door. We work directly with them to design their perfect board, whatever their ability, or wherever their next adventure takes them. Nothing will ride better than a custom board that was built to suit their personal needs.

As for my brother’s Munro boards I referred to in this piece, some are now close to 20 years old and still look brand new, which speaks volumes of the quality craftsmanship and the top end materials they use at Munro.