"Hayden’s company, Haydenshapes, is a household name amongst surfers, and grew from a backyard obsession into a global business. His signature board, the Hypto Krypto, has won “Australian Surfboard Of The Year” two years running, and is popular for one key reason: it completely changed the way that surfboards were designed and ridden.
To ride different types of waves, surfers need a selection of boards, one for each condition. This is what surfers call a quiver. Hayden’s Hypto Krypto design is different. While experimenting with new technologies and materials in 2007, Hayden wrapped a foam body in a parabolic carbon-fibre arc. Now the flex ran from the edges inward, and was provided by a material far more responsive than wood. He took it for a surf at his local break, had one ride, and rushed back inside to apply for a patent. It was a eureka moment: he’d cracked the formula for a one-board quiver. Now surfers could ride the same board in every condition using what became known as FutureFlex technology.
At the age of 15, Hayden broke the board he’d been riding that summer. But instead of forking out money to buy a new one, he went to a local board shaper (armed with a white lie about an imaginary school holiday program) and asked for experience. The owner, Rod, taught him to shape his first very board. “Rod shaped one side and I shaped the other. I still own that board,” Hayden smiles. “I shaped the second by myself. I got three quarters of the way through and had no idea what to do next. I took it back to Rod and was like, ‘what do I do now?’ ‘You’re the shaper,’ he goes. ‘You’re doing this. You’re on your own.’ And that’s how I learned: by myself.”
For Hayden, the shaping of surfboards is more of a science than an art — an attitude that has made big waves in the traditionally conservative surfboard industry. “I took the challenge of changing mindsets within the industry head on,” he says. “I appreciate artisans, that’s how I learnt to make boards, but there is a way to replicate those same skills and techniques that the best of the best put into each board using modern technology. It’s about replicating a process consistently time and time again.”
Today, Hayden oversees the production of tens of thousands of surfboards a year. “It requires really good staff, but also an understanding (and acknowledgment) of all the technology that’s at our disposal,” he explains. “Using CNC machines to replicate your shape, for example, and working with the designers of those machines to handle the cutting process. We even use customized parts to cut the boards to a specific tolerance.” Those high-tech boards have been praised by novices and world champions alike — such as double world title holder Tom Carroll — and even caught the eye of American fashion designer Alexander Wang. Together they designed a series of custom marble-covered surfboards that were displayed in Wang’s Tokyo and NYC stores. Not bad for someone who used to shape boards in his parents’ backyard.
“In the end, it’s about allowing surfers to get the most out of every wave, making sure they have a great time,” Hayden says. “Stoking out surfers — that’s why I do it.” "
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