So Hot Right Now with board shaper Christiaan Bradley
Taken from SE #63
If you’d made boards for the likes of Jeremy, Miky, Joan, Patrick, Michel, Aritz, Jonathan, Tiago, Marlon, Tim and Alain for the Euros, and internationally, Kelly, Julian Wilson, Fanning, Hobgoods, Pancho, Ace Buchan and many more all within just months of launching your own surfboard label, you’d probably be on to something. Enter Christiaan Bradley, who started off the year building two WCT winning Channel Islands boards for Kelly before launching under his own name. In the recent Brazil WCT event in November, Jerermy, Miky and Dan Ross finished 2nd, 3rd and 5th respectively on Bradleys. Shaper to the stars or not, we caught up with a typically down-to-earth Christiaan outside the Euroglass factory in Soorts-Hossegor one autumn evening trying to solarez the nose of a battered pink mini mal for a neighbour in the fading evening light.
It’s been a big year for you. Tell us how Bradley Surfboards came into being. I had a choice between staying here and working for Quiksilver, or going to the US and working with Al Merrick at Channel Islands in Santa Barbara. I like it here, I have my house and girlfriend, so I decided to stay. Since I launched I’ve been mainly focusing on the high performance end, boards for tour guys. I’d say probably around ninety percent of the boards I’ve made so far have been for the pros.
Given the number of top guys ordering boards and the buzz going around about your shapes, what is it you think that makes them work? Maybe it’s that I’ve got quite a good mix of a lot of different rockers that can suit different styles of surfer. The major thing is bottom curve, the rocker, getting that dialled. And I’m pretty careful on the dimensions too. I just keep them fairly basic, don’t deviate too radically. I try to replicate the good ones and just keep it simple.
What’s the difference in terms of feedback shaping for Kelly earlier in the year and someone like Miky for example. I had an idea of what Kelly was after, he liked the ones I made last year which is what he surfed at Snapper. Then I did two new ones for Bells, a 6’0" and a 5’10". We went surfing at Winkipop and he liked the board and just said, ‘Yep, this one.’ Miky is pretty different. He knows what he wants visually, with him it’s really precise and exact, we take a lot of measurements of rocker and so on, he’s pretty fussy. Kelly’s unique because he’s someone that canadjust his surfing to the board, rather than be after one specific shape.
You’re making really high performance boards for high performance surfing. What’s the state of the art right now? Boards have changed in the last few years where they’ve lost the hip in the tail. Surfing is changing where it’s faster, more powerful, more athletic and outlines have got straighter. There seems to be more rail to rail, the power element as opposed to the tricks. The tricks are still there but they’re more power orientated, guys don’t need that wider tail to loosen things up, they’re just blasting moves without needing it. But the rocker to generate and hold speed through turns, that’s fundamental. Your average WCT pro’s board is probably bigger than it was a few years back because the guys themselves are bigger. Because of the waves they surf on tour these days, the reefs, the guys aren’t all fl yweights so they ride fuller volume boards and can handle them. Can an average guy off the street still come in and order a board from you? For sure, that’s the great part of it. When a surfer comes in and says ‘That’s the best board I ever had, I love it’, or even when he doesn’t like it and we try again and get it right,that’s just as satisfying as when the pros do. The stuff for the pros is great, but also making surfboards so guys can have more fun and enjoy surfing more, that’s why we all got into this in the first place.