Board talk with Gary McNeill
Board Talk with Gary McNeill
, the mastermind behind Gary McNeill Concepts
spoke to Boardcave recently about surfing, sacred geometry, surfboard design and what it is like working with one of the world's best free thinking free surfers, Dave Rastovich.
When and Why did you start shaping surfboards?
I started shaping, like most crew from my generation, because I thought I had some ideas to offer. My first one was 1979, twins were still ruling, I was 16 and buying second hand boards and trying everything I could get my hands on.
You have shaped for some of the world’s top labels, what prompted you to breakaway and do your own thing?
Yes I've been with every major label at the height of their time either as a ghost shaper or production manager. After being in a little blue room ghost shaping 10 boards a day for someone else, the glitter wears off pretty fast and I was just bored with the whole repetitive thing going on. I wanted to get excited about shaping boards not burned out on them...
Your boards are quite unique, where does your design influence come from and what sets your boards apart?
Yes they are unique but quite functional at the same time!!
I've been surfing for 42 years and competing for probably 15 of those years, at the highest amateur level, so you soon get to know what works. All the major players I've worked for have given me snippets of different design knowledge that’s put into the mix of what you see today...
Over the last few years I think I've taken unique to a whole other level, but that’s for the crew who buy them to judge me by I'm sure!!
Dave Rastovich personifying the Gary McNeill Concepts brand surfing with a combination of style and performance.
What is your best selling model?
My best selling model is the Entity, formerly Alien. I designed this board about 8/9 years ago and its still such a great go to travel board/allrounder. Although this year the CV2 Quad is catching up fast.
The Entity and the CV2 competing for best selling models in the Gary McNeill range.
Tell us about your thoughts on “sacred geometry”...what is the significance in the artwork and designs of your boards?
The sacred geometry is special to me and Dave (Rasta). He put me onto the art when I first started shaping boards for him and explained the deeper cosmic meaning and connections to it and how it has an energy flow involved.
I was lucky to hook up with Jonathon Quinton, a sacred geometry guru, and we have a great relationship with incorporating the art into board design.
Your boards are very high performance, but not the status quo for shapes, what concepts are you incorporating together and why?
With boards, I've always gone down the high performance road while incorporating hybrid designs. At the moment, the Torus Twin and CV2 channels thrown into some different boards seem to be gaining momentum...why?
Cause I can make it work...
There are no hard and fast rules which some marketers would have you believe. Maybe because I'm a small operator and really work on custom orders and stick to the grass roots level of things, I see things from a different view point.
The Rasta Torus Twin, the perfect high performance hybrid.
You work very closely with Dave Rastovich, how has having him as a team rider impacted your shaping and your label?
Having Dave ride my boards has been a huge influence...not just with boards but on a whole lot of issues to do with the ocean we all enjoy.
I've been lucky enough to be involved in a few S4C (Surfers for Cetaceans) campaigns and some Sea Shepherd fundraisers over the years. It would be nice to see some of the other higher profile pro surfers give something back in this regard.
Surfer Dave Rastovich knows a thing or two about surfboards and he puts all his cards down with Gary McNeill Concepts.
Thruster, quad or twin?
Doing lots of twins and quads at the moment. I personally haven’t owned a thruster in 8 years but I still know where the fins go, ha ha.
The feedback on the ones I do has been positive so no worries there.
Your SPV construction is pretty unique, how did the concept come about and what does it offer over the standard go to’s like PU/PE and EPS/Epoxy?
The SPV construction came about after riding all those different EPS versions.
I didn’t like the stiff flex or the weird buoyancy they offered so I tried the PU version with a carbon top rail and really liked the quick flex and performance it had. That was 9 years ago and I've just streamlined the way its done.
I'm still waiting for a decent blank before I put my name on any EPS boards and from what I see every day from all the other guys making EPS, I'm happy to sit on the fence and do what I'm doing, to me if it went better why are the top 44 not riding it when you consider it's their career at stake?? Just a thought...
Rasta with a Gary McNeill Concepts with Carbon rail technology on a PU board giving a combination of quick flex and performance.
Where do you see the future of surfboard construction going?
The future will be in construction but for me it's not quite there yet.
What’s in store for Gary McNeill concepts in the near future?
For GMC...just tinkering in the mad lab blending hybrids and playing with some new Eco elements of construction.
I mean someone has to make it more environmentally sustainable but in my experience if it doesn’t perform, crew won't use it and the whole point has been missed.
Rasta doing what he does best.
For more information and their full range of surfboards ready to be customised and order online, check out Gary McNeill Concepts
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