Bankvaults opens up for Mikala Jones
It's an unfamiliar sight. Four world-class surfboard shapers from every corner of the globe––Australia, Hawaii, California and Florida––all swarming around one board, carefully inspecting it. They've just finished breakfast and the morning Indo sun is hot. Glenn Pang is showing off one of his creations: a four-fin sandwich of foam, wood and rods. It's got parabolic stringers, glued-on foam rails and rods in the center for strength and flex. It's baby blue and just plain pretty. It's as exotic a surfboard as you'll ever see. And it could very well be the future. With all the new materials in surfboards coming out, shapers now have the ability create all sorts of concoctions in an attempt to make lighter, faster and more durable surfboards. "This board isn't exactly to the point where you can crank them out but it's fun to mess with ideas," Glenn says of his creation. "It takes a good amount of time and energy to make it. I mean I had the Elmers glue out on this thing, gluing foam around the rails, but it's fun to mess around with." But what came out is a beautiful surfboard. And now, with the foam monopoly no longer hindering shapers, they have the ability to network and get their hands on all sorts of interesting materials. And as for Glenn's creation, after giving it several rides this week, the board has proven itself in the world's best waves, quite possibly opening yet another new door.

East coast wonder Eric Geiselman making a move towards All-world phenom
And why all the new doors in surfboard design? New resources and new networking. "Ever since Clark closed, the whole shaping community got closer," said Timmy Patterson. "We were forced to network a bit and it's made things better. And going on a trip with these guys has just been so cool. I've never had a chance to meet all these guys and to get to go surfing with them and chat with them is just insane." And that's a common feeling among the group. They've spent years working on designs; rarely getting the opportunity to branch out and meet the guys they share the passion for surfboards with. And you can tell. Every time a surfboard is pulled from the racks a board meeting breaks out. Hands are feeling rails. Curves are analyzed. And things are developing. They're talking. Bouncing ideas around. One guy tried this foam and it didn't work. One method has too much flex. Or not enough flex. It's all a balancing act that after this trip will hopefully be that much closer to finding equilibrium.

Phil Byrne’s son, Parish – reaping the rewards of having a world-class shaper in the bloodline
And as far as what we've been up to over here, we had our first "piss up" at the Kandui Resort restaurant last night. We got rocked by a 7.5 earthquake. And the inaugural Surfer/Shaper Challenge went down. With bar tabs on the line (winner got their week's bar bill handled by the losers) Phil Byrne and Phil Macdonald faced off with father/son team of Eric and Greg Geiselman in the final. East Coast U.S. versus East Coast Oz. With tunes blasting in the judges boat and color commentary from Pat-O (who narrowly missed advancement to the final despite posting the contest's highest scoring ride of an 8.5) the event was legendary. It had all the ingredients of a classic. Camaraderie. Heckling. And massive cheering. Phil Byrne hit his stride in the contest riding a bright yellow TL2, laying down the most stylish bottom turns of the trip and even managed to lock into a rare "Four Bobs" tube. Macca was ruling as well but fell victim to mother nature as the final was a bit wave-starved. Eric Geisleman slipped up on a few but in the waning moments was able to put together an air to lip bash combo for a 6.0. Eric's dad and shaper Greg was able to carry his end of the bargain, too by absolutely demolishing anything in his path. In the end it was the Florida boys taking the win by a mere 0.5 margin. And yes, their drinks are on our tab tonight.