Luke Short drops the Hammer

Alex Workman
Design Outline

Mention the nineties to older surfers and watch them convulse, eyes closed as they flashback to anorexic surfboards that stunted their surfing lives.

Early in the decade, Kelly had everyone under a spell with his 'Glass Slippers', a shortboard stripped down to its most basic elements: accentuated concave; exaggerated rocker; and dulled rails sapped of volume. Shapers followed the trend largely without protest, believing Kelly's high-speed, progressive surfing was facilitated entirely by the boards he rode. But for almost everyone else, they were difficult boards to ride.

As the nineties receded into the background we were told to pump up the volume and foam has been our friend ever since. But everything old is new again, as the saying goes, and a nineties revival is upon us.

Shaper Luke Short from LSD Surfboards has been toiling away in the shaping bay, revisiting templates from the nineties and adding a modern twist to arm a vanguard of power surfers such as team rider Noa Deane and good friend Creed McTaggart.  

Alex Workman caught up with Luke on the Gold Coast and asked him about his latest design inspired by the decade that gave us scrunchies, dial-up internet, and pub rock.

Swellnet: We’ve been told to pump up the volume for a while now, and as a result people seem to be on boards more suited to their ability, or at least reporting they are having more fun compared with the anorexic glass slippers of the nineties. Why revisit this period in shaping history? 
Luke Short: I was watching some old footage of Kelly and Andy at some event, and I remember thinking how much better they looked on longer boards; just the drive and the leverage, rather than on these short, wide boards that they’re riding today. I dunno, it kind of, in my eyes, looked better.

I’ve had this old Timmy Patterson board knocking around the factory which is a bit of a classic nineties boards, maybe late-eighties, and I just had the idea of, more as an experiment or a bit of fun, to make my version of that for Noa [Deane]. So I made him one and he’s like, "This thing actually goes really really good".

Noa aboard Luke's nineties-inspired creation (All frame grabs MallMic)

I didn’t go the full extremities of the super narrow slipper. I kind of went down those lines but added a little bit more width to the nose just so it wasn’t so extreme, and yeah, it just sort of came together. Noa was the one saying, "This could be an awesome model, you should do it." That was probably around 18 months ago I started making it for him. And then some of his peers started getting on it, like Creed [McTaggart] and a few other guys that ride for me like Benny Howard, and I made one for my son and it’s just gone from there.

People are just liking that drive and a bit of a different feeling, I suppose. 

Can you break down the shape and its DNA? What’s in its engine besides that longer planshape?
I guess one of the key elements is less concave so it doesn’t want to lift and jump out of the water. Even at high speeds, it’s going to hold really well and stay in the water. That’s a combination of less concave, a narrower tail, a little flatter in the tail, you could say it has the same as a contemporary shortboard nose curve but a fair bit flatter in the tail.

Having the narrow tail you can still dominate the board pretty easy even at high speeds. I think for Noa and those guys they’ve done the whole air thing and now they are loving the feeling of pushing as hard as they can through a turn and using all the speed they generate. Usually, they’re punting a huge air but now they’re trying to do the biggest turn possible. 

It sounds like it’s not a complete Glass Slipper and still maintains volume in critical areas of the planshape. How much is it a blend with modern boards? 
I think the overall nose rocker is similar to today’s boards, but in the nineties they were a little bit longer and flatter and then they had the flip at the nose, whereas I’ve spread the whole curve out under the front foot so the entry point is sort of long and smooth so you’re getting that initial speed and drive under your front foot as well. A lot of the nineties boards were a bit elf slipper-y where they were almost pushing water.

Yeah, they looked like they had to be kept in perpetual motion and if you weren’t in the pocket you were bogging rail and not driving through turns. 
And then the dimensions. Back in the day, you’d probably ride a 6’2" by 18’¼", where I’ve sort of pushed it out to just under 19” for a 6’2". So it’s sort of meeting in the middle of today’s contemporary boards and back then. It’s just trying to find a balance. 

I noticed the glass on fins – the sanders must be hating you. 
[Laughs]. Yeah, but for a lot of them it’s kind of a nostalgia thing, it’s something different, they kind of enjoy it. It might change if there’s a full production line of them [laughs].

Is there an ideal wave, or a type of surfer it's more suited to? You mentioned Noa and Creed as test pilots, and judging from the clips I’ve seen lately they’re surfing powerful breakwall waves. 
Yeah, you probably hit the nail on the head. Generally, you’d say they are for a better wave with more push, so you’d have it in your quiver as maybe an alternative to your normal step-up where if it’s a punchy wave you are surfing.

I guess it would suit any type of surfer [pauses to think]. For the guys riding shorter twinnys and stuff, I think it almost irons out turns a little—like even myself, I surfed this morning on a little twinny and halfway through a cuttie I was letting the tail go just for fun, but you kind of can’t do that on these. It’ll iron out your style, you’ve got to draw longer turns. You’ve just got to approach it a little bit differently - for the better I reckon.

The nineties are in vogue right now and the boards seem to gel with Noa and Creed’s whole act. But it also feels that surfers are looking back like you did originally, at those longer boards, and wondering if the surfing that was done back then was better because it seemed more fluid and less flicky. Do you think that’s another aspect of their appeal? 
Yep, totally. I guess you’re always looking forward but at the same time people are looking back to trying to pluck elements of what has worked in the past, aesthetically as well, like maybe it looks better when guys are throwing their board into the pocket and see the guys get points for that – at least the competitive guys. But then there’s an element of that glide and speed and power surfing that gets lost a bit because they’ve got to nurse the wide, short, rockered boards.

There’s just something nice about the glide, but you can still get them critical because they are quite narrow. 

Reckon the rise of accounts like 'Pulse Surf' and footage of Margo resurfacing from that era is also feeding into it as well?
Yeah, and like I said, I started this 18 months or almost two years ago, and it’s just the timing of it, everyone’s not reminiscing, but you’re trying to learn from your past so people are looking back and looking back at Margo, and Powelly. I dunno, it’d be a good experiment to look at guys like Slater who’s been through the whole eighties, nineties, and noughties and see where you think he was surfing the best [laughs]. 

That’s a good point. I think a lot of people would argue he surfed better when he was on the longer CIs when he was on his world title runs.
Hats off to him. He always pushes the boundary. He almost went too narrow and too rockered and then he went to the other extreme. So I haven’t done anything new, I guess. I dunno, in my eyes, there’s nothing better than just seeing that power and glide and that critical surfing all come together.

You’ve got the shortboard version in the works, but I’ve also noticed you’ve made a couple of eight footers for Noa. Tell me about those.
I think he knew we were going to be locked in Australia for a while, so he’s looking at surfing some big paddle-in waves and just wants to have boards ready. 

Do you think after almost two years of development you’ve hit the sweet spot with this design, or will the boards continue to get narrower and longer? 
I guess they will always keep evolving. I call it The Hammer model – the nineties one, so I’ve been doing those and his contemporary shortboards. But it’s funny, his shortboards have gone from 6’0 and 6’1 to the last few months 6’2 is sort of his standard board now and he’s liking the nineties model in the 6’2 and 6’3. So I guess it has influenced what he has been riding and he’s liking the longer rail lines.

Even for airs, I think just having more of a stable platform for landing, I could be wrong, but getting the lift as well and maybe he’s getting bigger and stronger as well. I think bigger boards, off the mark they are slower, but then you can generate more speed on a bigger board I reckon so that’s what Noa’s liking.

How has the input from Noa influenced you, and what’s it like having one of the best freesurfers in the world as your test pilot? 
Yeah well, sometimes I hear, "These are all awesome," [laughs] and I think that he’s saying it just to be nice but he means it. 

//ALEX WORKMAN 

Comments

coral sea surfboards's picture
coral sea surfboards's picture
coral sea surfboards commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 1:49pm

Old is New again ~ The Cycle continues !

stan1972's picture
stan1972's picture
stan1972 commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 1:50pm

I picked up one of Creed's boards a few weeks ago and the narrower tail was the first thing I noticed. These days you'd see a tail like that on a 6'8 but this was a 6'3. Went alright on it too.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 2:51pm

Damn, SN keeps pushing all the right buttons. Was very curious to hear about those boards.

Now this is from the early naughties, but here's some fine, and savage, ripping on longer, skinnier boards:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YIpviToTfE

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 3:19pm

Ben Webb, son of Greg, surfboard shaping co. Been making very bladey 90s style boards. Vault model

Jono's picture
Jono's picture
Jono commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 3:23pm

See him around the Tweed a fair bit, and ripping on them.

Alex Workman's picture
Alex Workman's picture
Alex Workman commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 9:24pm

Agreed. Those Vault models look like they have a lot of that nineties DNA. The old school decals are also a nice touch.

https://www.instagram.com/p/CBSJ2n2nNfj/

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 3:41pm

Watched the momentum generation recently and gotta say Slater was surfing way better on the longer channel island boards then than he does on the shorter stuff these days..imo of course ...and as for lsd redesigning the 90s boards......comeon seriously, joke right?

simba

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 3:47pm

"as for lsd redesigning the 90s boards......comeon seriously, joke right?"

Well to be fair, he said himself he's "not doing anything new", yet on the flip side I see very few boards with the above dimensions being made so there's definitely something worth talking about, especially mixing them with modern nose rocker.

bluediamond's picture
bluediamond's picture
bluediamond commented Sunday, 9 Aug 2020 at 11:53pm

Yes mate, would much prefer seeing Slats surfing on the low volume boards of the 90's than the corkier boards he rides now.. the flow was effortless on those boards, way less noise between turns, and when the turns came, they really meant something. So much more walking the tightrope to perform an exceptional manoeuvre as opposed to the stability provided now between turns..but i guess the upside is that the stability and flotation of current boards are great for generating speed for airs. Personally, and from riding boards similar to Slater's glass slippers, they leave so little room for error and teach you to really surf properly in the pocket of waves. And you gotta be paddle fit!! Still haven't mastered it but when you pull it off for a few seconds, it's an amazing feeling and one you can't replicate on a more modernised version of the short board.

overthefalls's picture
overthefalls's picture
overthefalls commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 4:33pm

I remember surfing these boards in the early 90s. I found they went really well in long, powerful point break waves, but I struggled to ride them in average conditions: lots of bogged rails due to their unforgiving nature (and my average skills!).

bellavista's picture
bellavista's picture
bellavista commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 5:25pm

Watch any GOOD 90’s surfing and you’ll be asking yerself, what’s progressed in the last 25 years aside from airs ? Actually surfing the WAVE face has not progressed at all. In some respects its gone backwards . Flickety flick , thats the trick

Balbero's picture
Balbero's picture
Balbero commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 6:11pm

Fair comment bellavista.

memlasurf's picture
memlasurf's picture
memlasurf commented Monday, 10 Aug 2020 at 9:16am

Yep and Flippy Toledo is the worst in my opinion. He is obviously and awesome surfer but I would rather watch Jordy on a big long wall. Despite his wins at Jbay, I still think he is flicking around way too much and everything he does is for setting up an air, which are freakishly good, but I like surfers surfing the wave.

Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake's picture
Westofthelake commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 5:28pm

Good read.
I've got a 6'4" and 6'0" that I've been sharing the love between for many years. Really looking for something in-between, say 6'2" x 19".
My old mate's uncle is a shaper, and he's been onto me for a while.
Time to sell a couple of old boards, and get new again.

Terminal's picture
Terminal's picture
Terminal commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 6:28pm

LSD has some great quad fishes out there, I feel like he's a bit overlooked with them

lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy's picture
lostdoggy commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 7:12pm

This just popped up after I watched a vid on youtube.

Jake the snake, AI, Parko and Kelly in 2002

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6YIpviToTfE

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 9:12am

Good surfing, aye!

Love the rawness of it, just laying into big Haleiwa.

greyhound's picture
greyhound's picture
greyhound commented Friday, 7 Aug 2020 at 10:47pm

I’m 44, bit of a greyhound, tall, lean, buy all my boards 2nd hand, don’t really experiment with boards at all. Shorty is a 6’1 up to a 6’10 and Aside from when I was learning ,never ridden a board wider than 18’3/4.My favourite thing is going fast. Never felt the desire to try a fish or a twinny or a hypnotic crypto flopto hopto.. I wonder if it’s the type of waves down in vic. Not so steep , more walls.. could also say I’m stuck in my ways..

Fatso's picture
Fatso's picture
Fatso commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 8:57am

My 90's shorty...6'1 x 17.5 x 1 7/8...loved it. it went in everything from 1 ft Trigg slop, to points and down south chunk to pristine Hossegor. No concave though, it was ore based around the reverse V that MC delivered to Curren for a Haleiwa comp (where TC reproduced MPs famous cutty photo). Also, I've only ever done airs in error, weighed in at 20kg less than I do now and surfed every day.

sandcrab's picture
sandcrab's picture
sandcrab commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 9:57am

Simon XFC has the 90s style.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 11:20am

I approve of all other surfers riding these boards in all conditions.

Jokes aside, Bellavista is spot on, go back and look at the footage and look at high performance surfing by good surfers in good punchy waves - apart from airs, where are the lines differing? 30 years... Maybe the double hands in the water barrel riding?

I've got a copy of "Surfing" from February 1996 where they do 'the Surfboard Issue' by NC, and go through what's on the market at that time. Apart from the longboard being recognised (rad for the time) they are beginning to look into more width/shorter with the Fish (after Curren I guess) - but there's one called "the Extended shortboard" that pointed to the future more than others - as it harked back to the stubbies of the late 1960s the article to introduce it. At 5'11" x 19 1/4" x 2 1/4" it sounds similar to the dimensions in the article above, though with the 90's sharper nose, but it is flatter in an attempt to rediscover drive...

(cost of mag was $3.95!)

freeride76's picture
freeride76's picture
freeride76 commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 11:26am

I dunno I reckon footage of those 90's boards looks fucking hideous.

draggy, over-rockered pieces of shit pushing water everywhere.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Sunday, 9 Aug 2020 at 3:52pm

Most of it was, the recreational version was hideouser.
There was Kelly backhand to that Beck music in the quikky film, and Margo charging big lefts backhand in the NW, those standout to me from that era. Was Margo on a flatter, late 80's style shape for that? Can't remember.
Like LD below, the 90's potato chips saw me surf other things, in my case narrow pintail singles down south, and logs and the odd fishy twin in the city. I tried to like the potato chips for a bit, but just couldn't find any joy.

birdfood's picture
birdfood's picture
birdfood commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 1:19pm

I think of the segment of Machado in Loose Change when comparing longer thrusters from the 90s to today's boards. Given the conditions in the clip I think I'd be recommended to be riding around a 5'9" x 19.5, and it's cool to see something which I assume is much longer being surfed well.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZ0aF28oEt0

The nose flip point is interesting in the article. The board that Luke is building sounds more functional right up to the nose compared to the 90s thruster where it seems the nose is flipped up to get out of the way (basing this off an article with Rusty Preisendorfer from a while back on shorter boards).

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 3:08pm

I spent so much time on old twinnies in the nineties. More volume better plan shapes. Less rocker. Was gifted a merric, too thin, too much curve.
Then my older bro kicked down a pretty new Sam Egan . 6'2"x 18" x 2 1/4"
thruster. Incredible board.

It's nice to have a longer board not only for surfing , for paddling also.
Every board has it place and i understand why the younger generation are revisiting those boards. the're not really though are they? As the shaper states the nose area is larger and there is less flip in the nose. they are creating hybrids i guess?
nothing wrong with glass ons though.

I shaped myself a new one last year 6'2" x 18 1/2 "x 2 3/4"
quad fin though.

bbbird's picture
bbbird's picture
bbbird commented Saturday, 8 Aug 2020 at 6:05pm

Its always good to experiment however, those narrow boards seems to work for powerful waves/surfers, as in the video of Hawaii Pro Comp. There were alota frustrated part time surfers trying to ride narrow banana bottoms...myself included on the east coast of nsw.
My favourite all-rounders were all shaped a tad wider with gentle curves.
6'2" x 19 squashtail for NSW.... thanks to M.Tomo
6'9" x 19" pin for indo & beyond; thanks to Phil.Myers.
6'10" x 19 v.narrow pintail for indo barrels; thanks to Mick.Vaun
7' x 20 1/2" rounded pin for NSW lazy wind swells thanks to Bob.McT

bbbird

Lachlan22's picture
Lachlan22's picture
Lachlan22 commented Sunday, 9 Aug 2020 at 8:31am

might have to be a new Stab in the dark, 'glass slipper, 90s edition'
Get kelly back on some 90s designs made by current shapers.

Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean's picture
Lanky Dean commented Sunday, 9 Aug 2020 at 3:15pm

Red bull did a series about five years ago with a board shaped circa Greg Noll
Gerry Lopez 90s merric and some other boards was an interesting film.

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 5:23am

whats the name of the film? or can you put a link up

Alex Workman's picture
Alex Workman's picture
Alex Workman commented Wednesday, 19 Aug 2020 at 10:21pm

I think this is the one you're talking about featuring Kelly's infamous nineties thruster.

https://www.redbull.com/au-en/episodes/al-merricks-thruster-red-bull-dec...

stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_'s picture
stevehamilton_ commented Monday, 10 Aug 2020 at 12:55pm

just fashion. trends come n go

simba's picture
simba's picture
simba commented Monday, 10 Aug 2020 at 1:01pm

would love to see slater on a channel island board now .......just to compare

simba

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 commented Wednesday, 12 Aug 2020 at 7:47pm

I've got a long skinny thin 90's board shaped by Nev future shapes, which I swapped for a job. I am 79kg and I can't surf it. It's 6'8"x19x2 1/4 and looks like a gun. Beautiful looking board. But as soon as you hit the flats or do anything unusual you lose all speed and the board sinks. There's no forgiveness in it. Anyway in the pool room it goes.

juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 9:16am

If you're good enough to ride one of those boards well, you must rip and be incredibly surf fit, like Noa Deane I guess.

I had a Firewire Taj board and it was the hardest board to ride. Paddled like shit, unstable, super rockered, knifey rails and when, by some miracle, you're on a decent wave, it had a sweet spot as big as a bee's dick. I equate it to an F1 car, if you have the track and the driver, there is no better car. If you don't have either, you'd be better off with a Hyundai Getz.

Gave me a big appreciation for the skills of a pro surfer, but they're not for me. I evaluate my surf sessions by how many good waves I catch. Those boards don't help me in that regard.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 9:55am

The Ghost is the modern day miracle. It is super HP, yet so so easy to surf.

juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre's picture
juegasiempre commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 12:14pm

haha, you must of read my mind. I'm looking for a ghost to replace my step up thruster. Just need to find one 2nd hand in my dimensions, nothing has come up so far.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 10:12am

Last two swells I've ridden a compressed version of Stretch's Comp Gun - 6'3" x 19" x 2' 3/4", very little rocker and a flat deck under the chest. Lot of foam in it.

Got it shaped for an experiement so I've really had my mind on how it rides, yet it's doing things I didn't quite expect, and this article comes to mind. It's sure-footed in a way I haven't felt for a very long time - a feeling I'd almost forgotten about. Addictive amounts of drive while retaining enough cornering capacity.

Rode it once on a beach break and it was terrible, yet every other surf has been in head high and beyond reef breaks - which is what it was made for - and it's been a revelation. It's a high octane board.

Funny how things like this arise every few years, as long as you keep trying new equipment.

Island Bay's picture
Island Bay's picture
Island Bay commented Thursday, 13 Aug 2020 at 4:31pm

Assuming this was that the board you talked about in the Desert Storm thread? So the experiment worked. Good to hear.

Once I get my hands on my 6'4 DS, I should head south and let you do a comparison.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 11:04am

The experiment worked in one regard, it exposed me to a board that rides incredibly at my favourite wave, but in a scientific sense it's inconclusive. I simply can't tell if the board carries the same qualities as longer versions of the same model. The surfing requirements of an 8ft+ board and a 6ft board are so different that finding common ground is nigh on impossible.

gdh's picture
gdh's picture
gdh commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 9:36am

This is an interesting thread. about 3 years ago I got a local shaper to re-do an older custom for me (from early 00s), I wanted to stay close to the original dims but slighter more volume forward of centre through to the nose and glassed-in fins of course. Board is a dream on my backhand but forehand tends to come of the bottom much slower than it should. Anyway it took a few surfs before I really ran my eyes and hand over the tail and discovered far more thickness towards one rail (toe-side). My understanding of surfboard design is pretty rudimentary so my question to others is - would the narrower heel side portion of the tail always be quicker through turns or is it something I've missed further down the board?
Anyways, I suppose hand shaped customs will always have their quirks!

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 9:48am

Like most everything in surfboard design, the way a board rides depends on a mix of features, not just one.

That said, a thinner rail will in theory engage quicker as there's less volume to resist sinking the edge of the board.

velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno's picture
velocityjohnno commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 10:25am

That's actually a really valuable board to have! You've got the one changed variable within the shape. If it's your thing, maybe try to ride it switchfoot to see if you can feel the difference, only on reversed sides. You'll be able to state that 'this rail does this for me' and then have your preference locked down... only 8 or so other variables to go to Magic!

We did two small wide boards, near identical dimensions, one with a thicker rail (and very slightly, more tail thickness - for heavier surfer), one more bladey and narrow in the rails and tail volume. Overall the shape performed well. The more narrow railed board, excelled in clean waves and as size increased it came alive with sharp, precise turning ability. The board with the thicker rails and slightly thicker tail was much better on sloppy days (could make a crap session into some fun, more floating tail and rails to plane over dead sections) and didn't give too much away when conditions were more perfect - but lost a little of the 'blade' feeling. You seem to have a bit of both in one board!

Which of the twins was the keeper? Well, for me the thicker railed job, as it did better in the range surf I encounter regularly, just losing out on the top end in the really nice, clean waves.

batfink's picture
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batfink commented Friday, 14 Aug 2020 at 5:15pm

Love to hear more from Luke Short, really like his work. I bought a 6'0" chubby cheddar of his, more foam but not too wide and round tail, but very flat entry and flattish rocker.

First 5 or 6 surfs I just couldn't get it, kept kooking the take off or whatever, surfing beach break so every wave a lottery. After that it all just clicked and it seemed all so easy. Love that board.

Im quite into the idea of a bit more length, it does change the way you surf, but not the 90s heavy rockered stuff. Nobody really wants to go back to that. Bit more length, bit narrower and flattish rocker is a nice mix, imo.

I have enjoyed only 1 sub 6' board, and that was a Simon 5'11". Have no desire to get back on a sub 6' again.