Champagne Glass: Callum and Sparrow
It’s the day after Snapper wrapped and Adam ‘Sparrow’ Fletcher gingerly answers the phone.
“Hello. Who’s this..?”
I explain who I am and why I’m calling and there’s a tangible lift in his voice. For five days, Sparrow watched team rider Callum Robson ride his luck with multiple buzzer beater victories on his way to a popular win at Snapper Rocks. And all the while Sparrow was there with him…yeah, he was tucked up in the marquee, but in spirit he sat shoulder to shoulder keenly feeling the stress of competition, and then when the hooter went and all that emotion was released, well, what can a shaper do but raise the glass and celebrate?
A lot of work went into Callum’s winning board, and we’ll shortly get to that, but the victory was especially sweet for Sparrow.
“I'm a local here, born in Tweed,” explains Sparrow, “so for him to get a win out at Snapper, it's kind of huge for me. Right now, I’m just trying to soak it all in; make sense of what happened yesterday.”
To explain it we first have to back up a bit. Despite coming from Evans Head, two hours south of the Gold Coast, Callum has been riding Sparrow’s boards for almost six years. Back then he was beginning to collect modest results on the Junior Tour and select QS comps, though nothing that elevated him above the hordes.
That changed in 2018 when he placed a close second on the end of year rankings for the Junior Tour. A pro career was far from certain - that’s if he even wanted it - but Sparrow saw a bright future whatever path was chosen.
“I think it was last year,” says Sparrow, “that he told me he really wanted to make the tour.” The two put their heads together to make a board suited to Cabarita as the Oakberry Pro Tweed Coast was the nearest thing to a local contest and it offered good ranking points.
“That board was slightly flatter and fuller than others he was riding, a semi-groveller but still high performance,” says Sparrow. “It came off the machine a little thicker. I chopped a bit of the nose and tail and made it look like a fish thing.”
The records show Callum won that contest and then backed it up with other placings, including a 17th at the Volcom Pipe Pro, which put him onto the Challenger Series through the second half of 2021 where he again pulled a string of good results, ultimately finishing eighth, well inside promotion to the Championship Tour.
If last year he caught fire, this year he burnt white hot, I need not remind you of that, and all his success - outside of Hawaii - was on that original Cabarita board or others very similar to it.
“It all just happened so quick,” says Sparrow with a laugh. “It feels like we’re behind the 8 ball a bit.” Despite the success, they know they haven’t quite got the designs where they want them.
Says Sparrow, “Callum’s told me his boards are solid but not magic. But if he can win events on solid boards that aren't the magic ones…well, I reckon we're on track.”
The board he rode at Snapper was 5'11" x 19" x 2 5/8", and checked in at 30 litres - Callum weighs about 80 kilos. The design was a mix of two models, the SS - a specialist small wave board - and the Black Pearl which is a more regular daily driver.
Because of Callum’s weight and surefootedness they’re a little thicker through the middle than is usual and they taper to medium-full rails, a single to double runs down the bottom, and a clean, break-free outline offsets the package. In fact, all of Sparrow’s planshapes feature Dahlberg-level refinement, though for that he’d perhaps tip his hat to Murray Bourton who he worked underneath many years ago.
Callum’s seen what comes from secure, long term surf/shaper relationships - think Mick and Darren, Parko and JS, John and Jon - and has expressed a desire to turn their already six year partnership into something more substantial. Sparrow is willing to reciprocate. While watching Callum compete at Snapper he had other Goldy shapers jokingly begin horse trading - "I'll swap you XYZ for Callum" - but Sparrow is going all in on this stallion.
To that end, the two have a model planned - to be called the CR6 - though it probably won’t be out until at least September. “We’re in no rush,” admits Sparrow. “Callum wants to get it just right and I do too.” They’d also like it if Callum had a sponsor by the time the CR6 comes out, but that’s a whole ‘nother conversation.
Right now, the two are focussed on G’Land and beyond. Sparrow thinks he’ll put together a 6’2” and 6’4” both similar to the board Callum rode at Pipe, but, says Sparrow, “He probably won’t take the 6’4”. You know what they’re like: We’d be on a 6’4” or 6’6” and those guys are sitting deeper on 6’2”s.”
With an incredible long range forecast, I ask Sparrow about Callum’s chances at Grajagan. “You know, he qualified in small beachbreaks, he’s got a great air game, yet I think he’s really in his wheelhouse when there’s size - the bigger it gets, the better he is. That’s his advantage and he also sees it that way.”