Oct 11

The Flathead – Delusions of a Wannabe Surfboard Shaper

Well it just could well be, in my humble opinion, the most revolutionary surfboard design to have ever graced the earth. This is a craft that paddles like a longboard, turns like a shortboard and doubles as a bulldozer. Its snub nose is able to clear any pesky bodyboarders or drop-ins with ease. Behold the mighty Flathead. 

Lovingly crafted from paulownia timber by the artisan hands of yours truly, it’s been many years in the making. Admittedly those ‘many years’ have not necessarily been devoted to research and development, more so procrastination and consternation. My cause for concern was how I could improve something so perfect in the first place. I admit making it waterproof was a start and somewhat essential but there was no point being caught up with specifics. 

It all started back in 2015. I attended a wooden surfboard workshop held by the good folks at Tree to Sea down in Mt Eliza, Victoria. I said it then and I will say it again, it was one of the most special experiences I have ever undertaken. To make something from your own hands is such an unbelievably gratifying experience, let alone when you discover the innate board building skills that I quite clearly possess. 

Back then Rob, Gary and Darren taught you how to make boards by way of a hollow wooden construction similar to boat building techniques (nowadays their focus is still on building an environmentally friendly surfboard, it is just a little more high tech and involves vacuum bagging a paulownia timber skin to a recycled EPS foam blank). I enlisted in a three-day course and undertook it with seven other wooden surfboard enthusiasts. The friendly banter we shared and the comradery is something that will forever be etched in my memory. 

After the course is complete you essentially have a surfboard that is 95% complete. All you have to do when on your return home is apply a few coats of marine varnish, sand between each coat, stick in your Gore-Tex air vent and slot in your fin. Voila, she is ready to surf. 

That’s where it went pear-shaped for me. Enter three kids, lots of work and good old life in general. I did manage to carve a mighty Flathead onto its belly and applied a white limestone paint wash when I returned from the workshop but that was it. The board then sat in my storage racks for the next 5 years until Covid rolled around. 

To find out more about the supposed most revolutionary surfboard design – click here