January 15, 2014

The Stab Caddy: Craig Ando’s Red Apache Single Fin, by Hayden Cox

Story by Derek Rielly, courtesy of StabMag.com

A little over two minutes into Slow Dance and we get a glimpse of this very of-the-mo single fin. At 2:28 the Apache slides into Teahupoo. Twenty seconds later, it’s rolling into Second Reef Pipe. A few seconds later and the magnitude of a bigger Pipe bomb fills the screen. Wipeout! Big trouble! So scary!

Now, this ain’t natural is it. Craig Anderson is the spin-queen who hovers like a bird and spins like a top on lil Hypto Kryptos in four-foot wedges. But here we see the 25-year-old, currently crippled by injury, taking his valium stance to the world’s heaviest cabanas.

What led us here, to the six-six single screw? Craig had been riding a five-ten version (see Lost Atlas) and he’d had a six-six with two trailer fins, but wanted a big straight six. And he wanted this straight six because he wanted to surf bigger waves.

“I see John John and Kelly psyched on being under the lip and taking off in the most critical spot and that freaks me out just looking at that shit,” says Craig. “I’d prefer to sit way out and paddle as fast as I can to get into a wave.”

Craig lives in Newcastle – Merewether if you wanna be specific – and he loves the big north swells that create these long lefts from Bar Beach to Merewether. And Craig figured, these swells, as well as Hawaii, would be a fine fit for a big single.

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“It’s like a big, big boat. It looks and it surfs exactly how it looks. It just goes straight,” says Craig. “You can move back if you want to cut down or change the direction of it. For the most part, wherever you want to sit you can be there. It’s really thick so you can position yourself perfectly. It’s easy to get down the face and it goes… straight. It’s fun for barrels, fun to go fast and to do little cut-downs, but I ride it for getting tubed.”

Now let’s get specific with its creator, the Australian shaper Hayden Cox, currently working out of a factory in Venice, California.

“I was inspired by Gerry Lopez. Craig wanted to ride single-fins in Hawaii and I ended up designing this six-six. It’s a diamond tail rather than a pin because I’d always had more fun riding diamonds. It has a vee-bottom throughout with a subtle double-concave through the back third of the board. These boards, you want ‘em to fit lower in the water, to stay real connected. You let the straight rocker and outline generate the speed.”

Hayden wasn’t real into numbers when he made this board, preferring to drive off instinct. “Sometimes the measurements aren’t quite as important as the aesthetic,” he says. “I don’t always design like that but a board like this I actually find unnatural to shape. I didn’t grow up riding those boards and putting those boards under my arm. The deck lines, the shape of the rail, it’s all very different to what I’m used to shaping. But it’s a fun challenge to turn back the years. And it’s fun playing around without preconceived numbers in your head.”

Says Craig: “It’s a beautiful board with the white-and-yellow lightning bolt pin-lines giving it that ’70s Lightning Bolt feel. I like watching movies of those first and second generation surfers riding Pipe and Waimea on those boards. I have a lot of respect for those guys.”

This Hawaiian season, Craig expects to be off the bench and back into the action. Accordingly, Hayden is building Craig an all-single fin quiver: a replica of the Apache (which is now on display at Hayden Surfboards’ Mona Vale showroom in Sydney), a 7’2″ and a 7’6″. “He’s inspired to test his skills and put himself in some more entertaining situations,” says Hayden.

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