Nigel Annesley // Annesley Surfboards

Alex Mitcheson
Talking Heads

He learnt his chops from the best in the biz, and still harbours great admiration for his past mentors, but Nigel Annesley is now spreading his own wings. He's built his own label - Annesley Surfboards - servicing core customers while also fitting out team riders both here and OS.

Busy times, no doubt about it, but Nigel still takes time out to experiment with new designs, appreciate others' handiwork, even answer questions when surf journalists come knocking.

Alex Mitcheson sat down with the Sunny Coast shaper for the latest Swellnet shaper interview.

Swellnet: When did you start surfing and how did you get into it?
Nigel Annesley: I started pretty early on, I think I was about four. It was through my old man, who as far as I know surfed his whole life. He began pushing me onto waves and I learned to ride the face quite quickly and was surfing by myself not long after.

As a family, we started going over to Bali quite regularly back then as well, with frequent trips to Byron Bay too. I was fortunate as a kid when I look back. 

What was under your feet on your last great wave?
It was up here at Noosa not so long ago. I had one of my own 9’4” El Gato longboard models which is a high-performance orientated outline and was having so much fun out at Tea Tree Bay. It was literally two foot — but I just had such a blast.

Who or what inspired you to take up shaping?
My dad used to get boards back in the day from Greg Webber, because of that the first few boards I ever had were shaped by him. Fast forward a few years and I’d begun to work at a boatyard working on boats, doing a bit of carpentry and general building. It was at this time I decided I wanted to shape my own board. I took the blank down to the local glassing factory and they were on the lookout for a full-time sander with good experience. I wanted the job badly, however, they were after somebody that could jump straight in without any training. After chatting some more, they said I could sand my board and if I did a good enough job, they’d consider me. Guess I did, because afterwards they hired me!

So, for the next few years I was sanding some of the biggest names in surfboards during the day — like Simon Anderson and Greg Webber — whilst trying my hand at shaping after hours. It was Luke Short, who came up under Greg, who gave me my first full-time shaping gig.

After some time though I started drifting over to eventually end up working under Greg himself. To me Greg is an absolute genius. I would be sanding boards he’d made for the likes of Taj (Burrow) and Andy (Irons) and it would bring tears to my eyes. You don’t get the opportunity in life to meet many real geniuses, but for me, Greg is certainly one of those.

Nigel takes a moment to appreciate the curves

Word association time. When I say a word you say..?
Asymmetrical: Functional
Literage: Truth
Custom boards: Lucky
Wave pools: The future
Finless: Freedom
Nineties outlines: Relevant
Twin fins: Fun
Channels: Difficult 

If you could rebadge any other board with your logo whose would it be?
A few years back, I came across a young Filipe Toledo whilst out at Lakey Peak. We were up in the tower there and got chatting and I began looking through his boards which most people know are shaped by Sharp Eye down in Tweed. They didn’t look too dissimilar to my shapes and Filipe was ripping at the time.

I think all in all they are probably one of the best brands out there at the moment for sure. 

Hypothetically speaking, you find yourself drydocked whilst making a rock jump on a big swell, are you more inclined to sacrifice fibreglass or your flesh?
Oooh, depends what board! If it’s a magic board then I’m going to be trying my best to save it.

Argh, it’s a tough one. I can always repair them pretty easy as well. But those magic boards are the ones you have to look after…

Dwarfed by his own creation

If you were to define your shaping philosophy what would it be?
Heavily inspired by my mentor Greg Webber — the continual curve approach.

With my boards you’ll notice from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail it’s a continual curve, the hard edge and tail fades into your bottom tuck so it’s not catching essentially.

Other guys have a different approach, more along the lines of a tuck to an all of the sudden hard edge — however, there’s no right or wrong answer! 

What’s the favourite board you’ve shaped?
Ah, there’s been a few. So many custom boards which would be impossible to mention them all. To keep it current though I might have to go with my model the Dead Slead. I’ve been riding one myself at 5’8” and in epoxy construction, and I just can’t get off it. 

I've been surfing it for solidly for about a year now. It suits the majority of conditions we get up here on the Sunshine Coast.

Swinging a tight radius slash at the top of the wave, Nigel puts his curves to good use

What’s the most successful board you’ve shaped?
My S2 model. It’s been around a while now, but I’ve been constantly refining it.

Many years ago, a young Wade Carmichael approached me to make a board for him. I knocked one of these out for him and he got back to me and said it was hands down the best board he’d ever ridden. For a period, he’d order between 10 – 20 of them in one go, and he wanted them all the same; 6’1” x 19” x 2 5/16” S2 model rounded square tail. "Don’t change anything!" he’d say. He went on to have great success with it and won the Australian Juniors on that board.

Any words of wisdom you could give to surfers out there hellbent on finding the perfect board?
As an experienced shaper and having worked with and for some of the biggest names in the business, one thing I’d have to get across is what the pros are riding as opposed to what you come across in the rack is very different.

You can watch the pros and read all the reviews etcetera, but long story short — volume never lies. Dimensions can be deceiving as they don’t always tell you a board’s suitability for you, whereas volume in my eyes is key.

And finally, you can’t go past just getting it under your arm. You can really suss the vibe out of a board and how it feels when it’s in your hands — and more importantly under your feet. Patience doesn’t hurt either as it’s going to take you a few — or maybe a lifetime — to find the ones that click.  


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Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 12:38pm

Can confirm the bloke shapes a mean small wave board. Shame he moved up north!

Pops's picture
Pops's picture
Pops Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 12:40pm

(not meaning to pigeon-hole him, just that I've got a small-wave annesley that goes really well).

Prayforwaves22's picture
Prayforwaves22's picture
Prayforwaves22 Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 9:11pm

I have the tiger shark, blonde, 11X and the fun model. All go well in the conditions they are made for

udo's picture
udo's picture
udo Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 1:41pm

Gd read
What size feet does this bloke own.

stunet's picture
stunet's picture
stunet Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 2:38pm

Christ almighty, what's going on down there?!

Greg Webber's picture
Greg Webber's picture
Greg Webber Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 10:58pm

Hi stuart I am trying to work out how to just make my own comment but I couldn’t find the spot. So I will reply to your comment and say that one of the key things that I have noticed about young guys who I have Worked with, is that those that understand the transition between the hard edge at the back and the other versions of the mid rail are ones that understand rocker and planshape best. It’s hard to find a parallel but if you were to bite the crap out of your index finger but leave your pinky with a clean sharp long fingernail and the other two somewhere in between, then when when you scratch your back you will feel a huge difference between each of those fingernails. I know it sounds a bit obscure but the bottom rail of a surfboard has to be considered with that degree of range in forgiveness, grip and bite.

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 2:27pm

whooo i like that, he makes some valid points

bipola's picture
bipola's picture
bipola Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 2:26pm

i think he right about volume it gives every one a starting point.especially older surfers

spencie's picture
spencie's picture
spencie Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 3:56pm

Maybe it's the camera angle but those feet sure are monsters!

ThatGuyJay's picture
ThatGuyJay's picture
ThatGuyJay Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 4:49pm

Can also confirm he shapes a mean step up. Got some of the best waves of my life on one of his boards!

dylza's picture
dylza's picture
dylza Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 7:35pm

His Tigershark groveler is pretty awesome

dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000's picture
dangerouskook2000 Thursday, 4 Mar 2021 at 8:54pm

Finally someone that talks sense and agrees with me about volume!

SurferSam's picture
SurferSam's picture
SurferSam Friday, 5 Mar 2021 at 12:31am

Great shaper have 3 boards from him

NDC's picture
NDC's picture
NDC Friday, 5 Mar 2021 at 7:51am

I agree about volume as well - it’s a great metric to help understand what you’re riding and I get frustrated with shapers (often the smaller operators who pretend it can be ignored - I suspect coz they haven’t got an easy/accurate way to measure it on their boards)

But I also feel conventional length width thickness dims shouldn’t be ignored and I like width measurements 1ft from the tail and nose (another conventional but often overlooked metric)

Put it all together and you’re a long way to understanding how a board will ride IMO. The of course you have to ride it - and in a variety of conditions

I longingly look forward to the day when we can measure and compare rocker across boards with a degree of accuracy above the eyeballing method - for me that would be the next great step forward

morg's picture
morg's picture
morg Saturday, 6 Mar 2021 at 12:44pm

On waves under three feet riding his Bullshark is a lot like when your shredding on your skateboard. It can be playfully fun in crap waves.

Stephen_mckay's picture
Stephen_mckay's picture
Stephen_mckay Wednesday, 15 Sep 2021 at 1:43pm

Anyone have any comments on the Fun model. Thinking of getting one as a daily driver in better waves. Been looking at vids of it being surfed and it seems to pivot like a McCoy. Maybe that's the continuous curve idea or maybe it's the surfer. Just caught me eye.