Former Australian competitive surfer and renowned surfboard shaper Simon Anderson is a master of his craft. Inventing the 3 Fin Thruster almost four decades ago, Anderson has become one of the most influential shapers in history. Since then, more than 8 million 3-fin Thrusters have been built worldwide, and there have been 37 consecutive world title wins using a Thruster.
I had the chance to chat to Simon Anderson at this year’s Vissla Sydney Surf Pro and discuss shaping projects, surf spots and more.
RAD: Simon, good to see you in Manly. Just wondering why you’re here today?
Simon Anderson: I’m here today because Vissla got a shaping component to the event, it’s a little sideline thing so there’s a whole bunch of shapers that are supporting this shaping side of it. I thought since I live nearby, I should come down.
So you’re based in Narrabeen, is that right?
I surf Narrabeen mostly, I live in Newport and work at Mona Vale, Northern Beaches.
You’ve been involved with surfing and board design for a while, how do you see the progression going with the concepts you’re working on?
I guess at the start of my career as a board maker, I was making high performance boards for me to surf in competition. As I’ve gotten older, it’s more about still trying to make boards that surf well, but have got a little added volume to help me catch the wave. It’s gone from one extreme to the other I guess.
So today you’re going to be in the shaper bay, what are you going to be working on there?
I’m not doing a full shape, it’s kind of… the theme of the shaping bay event is grass roots and full shaping primarily, but I’m not really a full shaper these days, so I work on the Aku software and the machines; so I’ve got a couple of pre-shapes with me.
One of them is one of my team riders, what he’s currently surfing; what he would surf if he was surfing in the event in Manly today. So that’s a little 5’10 Alley model, and the other one is a more volume added board that I’m working on for myself to surf; so it’s a round tail, bit wider nose, a bit chunkier all over.
In regards to the event, is there anything in particular you like about when they hold the event in Manly? Obviously it’s in your backyard so you know the waves pretty well.
Yeah, it’s close by. It’s a swell sheltered beach a lot of the year, but we’ve had a good little surf this year. The banks are good; so it’s a sand bank beach and the bank dependent and swell dependent. If those elements come together, then it’s a great surfing event; otherwise, it’s just a great venue obviously for spectators to come out and have a coffee and watch pro surfers and this year, they had the added bonus of being able to see Kelly Slater, probably for the last time in Manly, competing. So, that was pretty good.
Would you say there’s any spots or places on tour that you love going back to either for the event or the location itself?
Yes. I like going back to Bells. When I retired, I kept going to Bells because I liked the region and there’s plenty of surf opportunities. You get to surf in and around the event in good waves generally, and I’ve got friends down there so Bells is my favourite event I guess.
When I go to the event these days, I’ve got time to go to Johanna down south, and do the exploring that I perhaps didn’t get the chance to do when I was competing so there’s so many waves around that area. It’s a great surf region, great surf town. It’s pretty busy now so that’s not so good but, the food at the cafes and the development; that side of it is really nice.
Would you say are there any locations that you want to go to or any surf trips coming up that you’re looking forward to?
Any region that’s got good waves and is not too crowded just yet, is a place I want to go. I went to the Telo Islands a couple of years ago; that was pretty uncrowded and the waves were perfect.
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