Champagne Glass: The #77 by Sharpeye
Did you stay up to watch Filipe Toledo go two-fer at J'Bay last night? If you did you'll know the win was only part of it, a CT trophy is elevated every other month, what spoke loudest was Filipe's total domination of his opponents and sheer mastery of wave and equipment.
Looking for analogies I first reach back to John John at Margaret River, but where John John was advancing set pieces, mainly the full face carve as seen in View From A Blue Moon, Filipe was utterly unpredictable..
For mine, Filipe's J'Bay performances were closer in lineage to mid-90s Kelly Slater, where not even KS would know what he was gonna do when coming off the bottom. Anything was possible, in fact very probable, but it didn't prevent audience asphysixiation whenever he took off. Who could breathe?
As for Kelly then, same for Filipe now.
The #77 stands to attention
Also like Kelly, Filipe has a fatherly relationship with his shaper, Marcio Zouvi, founder and head shaper at Sharpeye Surfboards. They've been working together for four years, however it's not the first time they've done so. "We worked together years ago when Filipe was on the QS and first qualified," Marcio told Swellnet this morning. But then Filipe went away for a while, spent a year or so riding for another big label, though it didn't work out and like the Prodigal Son he returned to the fold. Hasn't looked back since.
The two have created a few models together, the Holy Toledo, the HT2, and the #77, the latter being his J'Bay choice, the one that's gifted him two titles. Curiously, the board he rode last year and the board he rode this year are exactly the same dimensions: 5'10" x 18¼ x 2¼.
"Last year was the best surfing performance I'd ever seen," said Marcio, channelling what Shaun Tomson said on the webcast last night. "So we figured, let's just stick with it and work in some subtle variations."
Subtle variations such as what?
"Well for instance we might do ten 5’10"s for a contest but they’ll vary," explains Marcio. "The variations might be in the flex, the type of wood used or the types of laminations, or the variations might be in the weight - sometimes I want them heavier."
"Filipe is a very sensitive surfer," says Marcio. "He can tell the tell the difference in each one of them. Sometimes I dont tell him what the difference is but he always catches me."
Most importantly, Filipe and Marcio make exacting records of all the variations so, says Marcio, "Filipe knows which one he’s going to pull out of the bag on every condition."
And if the wind comes up at J'Bay, which it did yesterday? "It'll be the same board but glassed a bit heavier," says Marcio.
Which brings me to ask about how durable his boards are. Filipe's boards are noticeably absent of carbon adornments. "We use S-glass because he does huge airs. We cant have boards snapping left and right," explains Marcio. "But carbon backfires for us. The boards ride differently." Even deck carbon used to protect heel damage removes the tail flex Filipe needs to generate his blazing speed out of turns.
Filipe will be short odds to take J'Bay again next year, and even shorter odds that he's got the same dimensions under his feet.