Jason Bennett at Chemistry Surfboards is unique for a few reasons: For one, he’s a young American shaper, of which there are surprisingly few. The other is that he rips. Decades ago, a ton of pros also shaped boards, and these were largely the people that progressed surfboard innovation. These days, the surfer/shaper is a dying breed, which puts Bennett in a rare class. We caught up with him to see what he’s been working on this summer. You can catch Chemistry, and tons of other shapers, down at Sacred Craft this weekend.—Casey Koteen
Any interesting shapes you’ve been working on this summer?
Mostly small wave stuff. It seems like everyone wants these small wave magic machines. So we’re making a lot of boards that are a bit smaller and wider than peoples’ normal shortboards. We’ve been doing wider tails, flatter rockers, stuff like that.
It seems like shortboards shrunk a few inches around five years ago, and now they’re shrinking again.
Yeah I think it’s all the Dumpster Diver stuff. Everyone wants something three inches smaller, flatter, wider noses. They’re fun; they’re easy to ride and paddle, and they go fast. And they work great for the shit we’re usually surfing in. Actually the majority of our line is small-wave models now.
A guy that’s say 5’9,” 170 pounds might’ve been riding a 6’2” by 18 1/2,” like a tall, narrow board. But what people are figuring out is bringing that length down a bit makes the board fit in the pocket better, and they plane faster. The only downfall on those boards is that when we do get waves and it’s more punchy, those boards don’t perform as well. That’s when you want to get back on a longer, narrower board, which will perform better in solid surf.
But it’s nothing new. People have been riding shorter, smaller boards for a long time.
Any weird, or more “out there” kind of shapes making it from your brain to the glass shop lately?
We’ve been doing our Disc model for a long time. That type of shape has been done way back in the 70s and 80s, but we jumped back on it about six years. A lot of guys have that kind of shape, but we’ve been doing it for a while and have really refined it. It’s real short, like 5’2”, and we’re throwing all sorts of different tails, wings, rail channels, all that stuff. It’s a pretty trippy little board, real skatey.
You can do something really weird, but we’re not doing anything super left field because we want it to work. We’d rather refine stuff, like the rockers and bottom curves and progress that.
So you’re in this Tribute To The Masters Shape Off at Sacred Craft this weekend honoring Simon Anderson and his classic thruster. You been practicing mowing any 1980s thrusters?
Ha, yeah actually I did one on Monday. It was before my era, and the guys I’m up against have done a lot of them. I’ve got one under my belt, so it should be fun. You’ve got to hit all your numbers and all that in an hour and a half, should be interesting.