Geoff McCoy’s Lazor Zap surfboard design—generically called the “no-nose”—looked incredibly sexy and futuristic, but was skittish and high-floating and drive-free and more or less impossible to ride unless you were Cheyne Horan. Harder to surf than a twin-fin? Difficult to say. Pick your poison. The twin-fin was like riding a bar of soap; the Lazor Zap was like riding an air-mattress pumped up to 75 PSI. Anyway, it didn’t matter. Saint Simon of Narrabeen mooted this no-win choice in 1981 with the introduction of the tri-fin Thruster, and in its protean glory, the tri-fin remains the sport’s board of choice. We were saved.
McCoy himself—a headstrong flawed-genius shaper-guru very much in the Dick Brewer mold—does not see it that way. McCoy has long maintained, let us say, an alternative view on “the industry” (always “the industry”) and the way it has treated the Zap, Horan, and McCoy himself. But I did not know the depth of McCoy’s feelings on these matters until just recently, when I clicked on the McCoy Surfboards website just prior to posting the Lazor Zap page. Now 68, and still pumping out gorgeous surfcraft, here is a taste of what McCoy says on the page devoted to his revamped Lazor Zap.
The board itself:
The Lazor Zap is based on my Energy Theory, how that Energy turns into Wave Formation and how Objects react with those Formations. The Original Lazor Zap was designed with Short Arc, Reactive High-Powered Surfing in mind.
Surf world response to the Lazor Zap:
[The board] was so unusual…that it challenged the ideas and beliefs of the industry. In turn, the Industry reacted with fear and rejected the design, as it meant that the Powers that be of Surfing would lose the control that they were beginning to have over the direction in which surfing was heading. By rejecting the Lazor Zap, they were able to wrestle control of the surfing industry and gain a hold on the Sales Market which was their only real interest.
The Lazor Zap and Cheyne’s World Title misses:
Cheyne Horan rode the Lazor Zap to four second-places in the World Surfing Titles, proving that this design concept was exceptional. Those second-places are still highly questionable and controversial. Then and now, many believe that it was the establishment’s way of discrediting me and my design so that they could Control Surfing and Sales.
From the early 1970s to the early 1980s, McCoy had THE most cutting-edge surfers riding his sticks. Terry Fitzgerald, Mark Warren, Col Smith, Dappa Oliver, a young Simon Anderson, Cheyne Horan, Larry Blair, Michael Tomson, Pam Burridge, Bruce Raymond, Damien Hardman, Nicky Wood — the list went on and on. McCoy’s hands were magic. His planer was a wand. Yes, he was an egoist of the first order, capable of not only referring himself in the third person, but as “this great man.” On the other hand, like the old saying goes, it ain’t bragging if you can back it up.
In 1984, McCoy Surfboards imploded, swiftly and brutally. Poor business decisions, shady manager, bankruptcy. At the very height of his influence and popularity, McCoy had to sell everything, house and car included, to pay off debts and keep the company intact. Probably the experience warped him to some degree. Understandably. It certainly nursed the conspiracy theorist within. Anyway, ten years after the crash, McCoy was back on his feet, no longer a surf-world-conqueror, but still mowing foam with the best of them, and filled to the brim with pride and, yes, self-importance about his place in the boardmaker’s pantheon.
And you know what? Simon Anderson around that time called the Lazor Zap, with its narrow nose and lowered center point, the “First Father of the Thruster.” (There are four fathers all told, Simon maintains, but that’s a different story.)
For a long time I thought of the Lazor Zap as a bit of a hoax. A dead-end design. It wasn’t. You had to go there to get here. McCoy ain’t the genius he thinks he is. He didn’t write Pet Sounds or solve cold fusion. But he’s a genius nonetheless.