Let’s admit it: very few of us have the skills of @kellyslater, @stephaniegilmore, @knostthankyou or @justinedupont33. We are good surfers and all we want is to take a maximum of pleasure in peace. This is why we think asymmetrical shapes may be fantastic surfboards for intermediate surfers. Thanks to Yann Belledent, founder of Luta Surftoys (@lutasurftoys), we have some nice ones in #TheBigQuiver. Here is the story of this atypical shaper based in Saint-Jean-de-Luz in the French Basque Country.
Hi Yann, can you tell us how you came to shaping surfboards?
Well, I wanted to shape since a long time but I was a bit frightened to engage myself on this path. As often in life, an unexpected event created a starter: I found a piece of broken longboard in a bin on a surf spot. I took it back home, and I shaped my first surfboard with it. As you can imagine, it was small, a 4’6’’ Mini Simmons named Biggie Two.
A little bit later, as I was surfing the Biggie Two, a surfer asked me at the peak about this shape and offered me a blank that was unused in his garage. Then the story began. It was in 2014.
What are your inspirations? Your specificities?
Let’s start with the specificities because, here too, random event has a word to say. I shape exclusively polystyrene with epoxy resin. To be honest, it is not a determined choice. When I began shaping, I was in a small garage so I had to find a material without the unpleasant smell to avoid disturbing the owner. Since, I kept polystyrene and epoxy for good with an advantage: my surfboards are robust. Now my inspiration. I love this type of surfing based on a combination of smoothly curves and radical moves. I’m fascinated by retro shapes and all the surfboards that express a difference. Shapers like Jeff McCallum, the twins made by Gary McNeill, almost all the single fins or quad surfboards. Thrusters are not my thing. If you want one, I’m not your man!
Now let’s talk about asymmetrical surfboards. How did you start?
It is quite recent for me, only 2 or 3 years. It started by a request of a surfer friend who wanted to try this type of shape. We had the same feeling about some ‘trendy but hard to practice’ surfboards. At this time, I was surfing a lot of fish and my feeling about these surfboards was: it’s super nice when you are frontside, but when it comes to backside it is quite hard. Most of us are not pro and surfing a twin in backside is a little bit tricky. This is the reason why I began to work on asymmetrical surfboards. The main idea was to keep this cool surfing in front side, and to change the behavior of the board in backside with more aggressive turns and easier rotation. So, I took two half surfboard templates, and joined them to create an asymmetrical shape: the front part was based on a twin, and the back part was a quad. My first tries were ‘full asymmetric’, with their respective outline and rails. It was working but a little bit extreme. Finally, with surfers and shapers friends, I created something more ‘tempered’.
For whom are these surfboards?
As I said, we are not all pros and the idea of these surfboards is to maximize the pleasure of the good surfers. But most of the surfers think these boards are made to surf only right waves or left waves. It is exactly the opposite! These boards are made to facilitate backside surfing and optimize maneuvers. Simply imagine that in the same session you are able to ride two surfboards.
Now some might say: ‘but it is cheating’. Not at all! For the majority of us, surfing is just to get satisfaction. For me, asymmetrical surfboards are the perfect gear to reach pleasure. And working on new surfboards to improve your surfing or your sensations is the essence of shaping, isn’t it?
What about the future?
My next step is to shape bigger asymmetrical surfboards, like midlength or performance longboard. Wait and see!