Someone Stole My Shaper! / by craig levers

Soph, Hayden and the kids during the pack..and that's not their house in the background

Soph, Hayden and the kids during the pack..and that's not their house in the background

A couple of months ago Hayden Chamberlain asked me what I thought about him moving up to Ruakaka. The first reaction was selfish. You can't do that! Where am I gonna get boards from!? What about the T Double A Surf Team? [We are/ were neighbours in the same Piha Road, which has a large amount of surfing families dotted along it.]

I was there when Hayden's parents dropped him off at the Fresh Squeezed Factory, Shadee Lane, Piha [yes that's a real name] to start his shaping apprenticeship when he was 16. We've been mates since. I've interviewed him and stitched him up with terrible portraits since waaay back. He's part of the Piha fabric. 

Declarations become reasoning, why, why would you leave us? How can you justify this heinous thought? 

'Family bro, both Soph's and my olds are still in Dargaville, and we want the kids to be nearer to their grandparents.' 

We talked it out. The concern of leaving his client base in West Auckland for the more sparsely populated fields of Northland. Of leaving swell rich Westside to swell challenged East. I appreciated that Hayden valued my opinion. But, in my books, Whanau always trumps the pros and cons. I knew he was going even if he and Soph thought they were on the fence. 

Roger Hall Stole My Shaper

Roger and Hayden in the Surfline Shaper’s Bay, Ruakaka

Roger and Hayden in the Surfline Shaper’s Bay, Ruakaka

Roger; 'Well it's a win, win situation I think. Hayden joins us here at Surfline, it brings us back up to four, which seems to be the best working model for us. Over the last few years it has been difficult to get skilled workers. So Hayden's coming in with his vast set of skills to help build the boards that I do. And he's already pushed ahead and trained up Bryce Barton from Piha to do the glassing.

But of course beyond that Hayden is bringing he whole HC operation north with him. So he'll be doing everything that he was in Auckland, except he'll be doing it here. ' 

A concern could be that the brand HC Surfboards could just get assimilated into Surfline. 

Hayden; 'No, I don't think that will happen. Not at all, if that was a worry I would not have done it to be honest. 'Cos I've spent a lot of years building up my brand and I don't want to get it just pushed to the wayside you know. '

Roger; ' And that's certainly not what I meant either. I am excited about having Hayden in the factory helping with my boards. But in reality that's a bi-product of him being here. As far as the general public are concerned there will be two distinct brands coming out of this factory. 

Hayden being younger and me being ummm err older... He'll be looking to grow his business while I'm wanting to concentrate more on my shaping and spending more time in the shaping bay. Having Hayden here building the boards allows me to do that. '

And what about egos, will there be fights over shaping bay time? 

Roger; 'I'm looking forward to it, of seeing how Hayden does it. I'm sure he'll be interested in seeing how I approach it. And vice versa- I don't think there's any egos involved. I think we're both going to have a good time doing what we are both passionate about. '

Hayden; 'I'm really keen to learn new tricks, 'cos Roger's a wealth of knowledge. I'm a bit of a sponge, and I'm always keen to learn some new stuff. '

Roger; 'We've both evolved quite separately to each other. The types of boards I do and the customers I do them for ...and Hayden's doing some quite different stuff.  And I don't really go the places Hayden goes.'

Hayden; 'Yeah, we've got two totally different markets, which I think is a healthy thing. '  

We talk of leaving that Auckland client base. 

Hayden; 'It was a huge concern. It was the biggest one. But just over the last few weeks as people have found out, it has become clear they are not that fazed about me leaving. That has been encouraging. The performance market is a big market and there are a lot of players in that. I'm actually quite happy to be out of that big frying pan of Auckland and distance myself from that competitiveness. I think the loyal ones will follow me and for those that don't, well, I'll pick up new ones. '

Roger; 'And geographically you haven't moved that far, Auckland's still highly accessable. '

Which raises the fact that Roger and Surfline has always been a very national brand.  He's always had customers in the Far North to strongholds in Otago and Canterbury. 

Roger; 'Well interestingly, when I get out and about, it doesn't seem to matter where ever I go, there'll almost certainly be an HC board there. So your boards are far and wide as well. So that will continue.'

Hayden; 'Yeah and I think that will help me concentrate on being better at marketing. Rather than just worrying about that little nook I had out in West Auckland.'

Roger; 'Yeah the isolation actually works for you if you use it. Like you go 'I need to let people see what I'm doing, so you have to become more active in that.' 

Of course the rumours had already started about HC and Surfline's movements. 

Roger; 'Yeah I think it's fair to assume that there ended up being a bit of disinformation and confusion about what we are doing. But really what we are doing is carrying on as we were, we are just doing it under one roof.  Hayden's not changing anything he's doing except for where he's doing it. And I'm not changing a whole lot a part from the fact that Hayden's now here bolstering the numbers back to that fourth man needed to work the factory.

There were all those rumours that Hayden was taking over the factory and I was retiring. But that's not what is happening.'

Hayden sums it up well. 'The thing is I'm only 90 minutes up the road or a phone call away.' 

I feel better, I've been counselled by the shapers. I order my new summer board, and by doing so get bragging rites on being Hayden’s first order under the new roof. Everything is going to be OK. But as I leave the factory in Ruakaka there is the realisation. While I haven't lost my shaper, I have still lost my neighbours and the T Double A Surf Team is a strong member down.  Damn you Roger and your rational reasonings. 

Check out the HC Website Here 

Want to join the T Double A surf team??? Well check out these stunning images of your new home must have been a pretty damn good photographer that took those huh :)

Hayden and Sophie's TradeMe Listing 



One of my favourite images from this year. I can't recall capturing the spit of the barrel so well before. Check it out and buy it if you like it Here