Wakesurf Board Shaper Interview: Nick Wiersema from Shred Stixx Wakesurf Company
sTank: What was your surfing experience growing up?
I grew up in Houston, Texas so surfing was a bit of an unusual past time when I was young (Surfing was not nearly as popular as it is right now; its mainstream popularity is very cyclical). My friends and I were just skate/bmx punks riding every ditch, ramp and vacant pool we could find. When I was about twelve, I came home with a twin-finned surfboard from a garage sale down the street and told my parents I was going to start surfing. My oldest sister was in high school and was starting to hang out with some of the surfer crowd at school, so I had a ride to the beach. Next thing I was hook and surfing local competitions, then on to nationals, and a short, less than productive stint as a professional.
Favorite surf trip?
I get this question a lot. I have pretty much traveled the world surfing and working, except South Africa. I have never stepped foot on the African continent (it’s on the list). My quick answer used to be any trip with my friends. And, this is still largely true. My most memorable surf trips have been those with my friends, sometimes surfing was the focus, other times we were just having fun, with a little surfing on the side.
sTank: How long been have you been shaping? I suppose I started my shaping career at the age of 15. Like many I started by tearing apart 70’s single finned board and reshaping them into thrusters in my parents backyard/garage. My mom was always ‘freaking’ out about the chemicals and mess. That was over 20 years ago. I actually shaped my first wakesurfer around the same time, but back then wakesurfers resembled modern tow boards more than anything.
sTank: First impression of wakesurfing?
The reality is my first exposure to wakesurfing was watching Endless Summer, and seeing Mike trying to ride these absolutely tiny wakes on a longboard in Australia. My next experience came shortly after, when I went over to my shaper’s house to pick up my new board. He was totally stoked on riding waves/wakes behind the boat, and showed me this board he just made special for doing this. Well this board was just a very short, trimmed down performance thruster around 5 feet long (looked like a modern tow board). He was so proud of the fact that it had 4 layers of 4oz glass on the deck and 3 on the bottom for strength. He said I had to go out and try this. Aside from tanker surfing, a tropical storm, or riding other displacement wakes at port entrances, it was pretty much the only way to surf in Texas during the summer. This was either 1988 or 1989.
sTank: What makes shaping for wakesurfing different than ocean? Conceptually they are very similar, but the finer details make all the difference. You can ride your average off the shelf surfboard, or skim board for that matter, behind a boat but there are some limitations. These limits are where good wakesurfers excel. Unfortunately, virtually all wake surfboard manufactures don’t seem to understand these limits or how to design for the much different forces at play behind the boat versus an ocean born wave. Aside from the difference in surf-style, skim-style and the over abundance of hybrids (or really skim boards with bigger fins to look like a surfboard), boards really borrow from two schools of technology. The ski/wake boarding world and the surfing world; this is not only true of the overall design but flows right into the manufacturing process. From a surfing perspective, boat wakes are laughing small. However, the energy behind these small waves is moving faster and is more powerful than a similar sized ocean wave (ATCE).
sTank: Where is wakesurfer shape technology going? Right now, we seem to be sitting at a crest in design (certainly not the pinnacle), where there are numerous boards that are extremely similar in their overall design. You can even argue that some of these similarities were independently derived (although, this is a tenuous argument). These generally design schemes serve a purpose and in some cases are fitted to rider’s individual styles. A board that allows a rider to sit comfortably in the pocket and spin is likely not going to be the board of choice for progressive carving and aerial maneuvers. Currently, the greatest limitation is boat design and the size/length of the wakes they produce. Progression in aerial surfing will cease as hang time is already limited as a result of the short face of wakes and the inability of riders to recover and continue riding on these short, but fast moving waves. I use to get pissed when I saw people copying our designs and concepts, but now I really don’t care. In a way it is a form of flattery, and in the bigger picture, while they try to emulate last year’s design we are already moving ahead with the next step forward. Additionally, the truth is there is nothing new in this world; it has all already been done, just maybe not very well documented.
sTank: Where is the sport going in your opinion? Barring any additionally encumbrances, growth in popularity and all things that come with that growth is the future. The sport already carries a significant financial burden. Additionally, access issues both good and bad will continue to raise their head. For the sake of the competition riders and their sponsors, I hope that someday soon, there can be a unified group of riders and organizers, not necessarily a traditional governing body, which will meet the challenge of developing appropriate rider categories and scoring criteria.
What is in the works for Stixx in 2012?
It is pretty exciting, we’ve been working really closely with our team riders over the past two years continually refining of our Pro Model board. New for 2012 we will be offering it as a Carbon Flex Pro™, using various arrays of carbon fiber and foam providing the lightest, most lively wake surfboard on the market, with all the performance attributes people have come to expect from the Pro model. We have also been working with some of our up-and-coming young riders refining the Nano lineup. Additionally, we will be introducing a few new models as part of the Chaos Professional Series that will be available in limited production toward the end of 2012.
We are continuing to work with Futures to develop a fin line-up that not only enhances the ride of our boards, but will be able to take advantage of the different forces at play behind a boat. The technology Future brings to the table is second to none. We are continually stoked when a package arrives from the factory.
Check out the Shred Stixx Custom Series at www.shredstixx.com and call or email today to order your Custom Stixx. email@example.com phone: 512 669 1124
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