Garry Loveridge: Australia's most successful shaper?
Garry Loveridge is a remarkably obscure figure in the surfboard industry. For nearly forty years he's operated from his NSW Central Coast base, quietly shaping boards under the Wizstix label for the hardcore local crew, yet he's also the designer of one of the most popular surfboard models in recent history - the 7S Superfish by Global Surf Industries (GSI).
Garry had shaped Superfish for years but it was a chance encounter that saw them produced by GSI and go on to beachside ubiquity. To date GSI have produced 45,000 of the Superfish and the numbers keep rising.
Not only is Garry remarkably obscure, he's also remarkably unaffected by the Superfish's popularity, as evidenced by a chat we had recently.
Swellnet: The 7S Superfish, it's kinda like the modern day Colonel Sanders coolite in a way. A lot of people have learned to surf on them.
Garry Loveridge: Yeah, they had beginner sizes but it wasn't originally made for beginners.
It has the perception of being an entry level board.
Yeah, but it wasn’t a beginner's board or anything like that. You know, guys were using them in the Mentawais, my brother tested it out at 8 foot Angourie before Global had it. He was getting more waves than Baddy and all the locals up there. The original ones I made were 5'7” to 6'3” maximum. Global just wanted bigger versions and so we did 'em. The 6'6” went well, the 7'3” too.
Do you mind telling me how the deal with Global Surf Industries first came about?
There was a guy who used to work for FCS, Dan, and he used to get a few off me and really liked them, and then he got a job with Global when they started up. Dan used to say to Kel [Mark Kelly – GSI founder], "You should go and have a look at these fish, they go really good." Then it just went from there.
So what's different about them? It's got that sorta step deck feature, hasn't it?
The step deck is basically to keep the board thicker in the middle while having a low, thin rail. Also the step deck, when you get the board up on its rail, it's planing off another square edge so the water comes off even quicker. That was the idea, and it also increases the amount of volume up through the nose. While the deep swallow - the original ones we were doing with the deep swallow - allow the board to hang in no matter what sort of surf. It's a board that works and it was probably Global's biggest selling board worldwide.
It is I believe. So would it be fair to call you Australia's most successful shaper?
(loooong pause followed by a guffaw) I don't know about that...
Well it makes for a good headline.
I guess I made a board that sold more than most models. But I'm just like any other shaper – you make good boards and you make bad boards – except I was in the right place at the right time.
Yeah, you won the shaper's lottery it seems.
Yeah, but the thing was the boards worked. There's plenty of 22 by 3 inch fishes around but these ones worked in all sorts of waves. Personally I reckon that's the difference - they worked. Global got in early with that sort of shape and now it seems the weirder the board is the more popular they are.
How come your name isn't on the 7S anywhere?
That's just how it worked out. They used to put it in their catalogue that I was the shaper but I didn't give a stuff if it was on there or not.
And you get paid royalties on sales?
Yeah, I get paid every three months. It's been good. It started on a handshake deal and they didn’t rip me off. I've always appreciated that.
What has shaping the 7S allowed you to do?
It's allowed me to pay off a few things - yeah. And it's allowed me to experiment on other boards too. I've got a few different models now.
Where's your head at with design?
I don't think it's that different to anyone else. Everyone's gone shorter, wider, different nose widths. Lotta quads. Everything goes now.
And what are you riding yourself?
I've got a combination of boards. I still ride my fish, like a style of Superfish, the same ones I've always done. And then a few standard boards, thrusters. More conventional boards as well.
A few months ago Jughead Allport sent us photos of yourself and your brother doing pretty well at a Central Coast reef. Were you one of the pioneers on that stretch of coast?
Aww...I wouldn’t say that. XXXX was my favourite break, I've been surfing it since about 1975 when it was a full secret spot. I used to take Jug and my brother around there when they were only little grommets, way before there were mobile phones and things like surf forecasting sites (Ed's note: gulp!). It stayed a semi-secret for about 10-15 years, just locals and a few others. And then now, it's all over.
Do you still get out there much?
Not very often anymore. I still like to get in the surf though, a few times a week, but I'm over the crowds and all the rest of it. I still like to get wet and test my different shapes. My brother and guys like Jug, I get good feedback off them and a few different people are good test pilots.
Such as who?
You know...Maggot, Twist Top, Luke Taylor, just the local guys around here. Good surfers. Luke Carmichael, and Wilko too. I've done his boards for a long time. Wilko goes OK...
Thanks a lot for your time Garry. Would you like me to put a link to your website at the end of the interview?
I don't think I've got a website.
Facebook page perhaps?
My daughter does something or other. I'm pretty primitive when it comes to this. I just make the boards.
PS: You can check the Wizstix Facebook page here - Garry's daughter made it!
PPS: Maggott = Brett Walker, Twist Top = Chris Ambrose