Matt Warshaw is single handedly putting surfing in the Oxford dictionary as well as keeping its vast history alive amongst todays surfers with his epic Encyclopedia Of Surfing.

As a surfing traditionalist one might not peg Matt Warshaw as a love of computer-designed surfboards, yet in this latest entry to EOS he sings praises to his own personal experiences to surfboards that were popped out of a machine. “Everything worked. Magic wasn’t guaranteed, but every board was in the ballpark. Super dependable. Like sliding from one late-model BMW to another,” he claimed after struggling for decades with hand shaped boards. Interesting.

And even more interesting is the fact that Biarritz surfer/mad scientist Michel Barland was doing this years before anyone else in the world on his homemade equipment:

“French surfer and engineering genius Michel Barland was onto all of this before anybody. Way before. Look at him up there with a computer that he designed and built himself, no mouse, no trackpad, no interface to speak of, just rows of numbers onscreen, for all I know the thing’s running on vacuum tubes and punch cards. This was 1984. Barland, one of the original Biarritz surfers, already had spent five years developing a computer-driven shaping machine. 

The article says Barland had already made 1,500 boards by that time, but as far as I know none of them ever left the Continent, and the tech-driven process itself certainly hadn’t yet been replicated in America or Australia. Why not? Probably because home computers weren’t a thing quite yet, and the machinery involved was expensive, and maybe the whole idea at that point just seemed too Frankenstein. Might also have had something to do with Barland’s marketing. The man had a huge bulging brain, but his label for this brave new label read “Barland Computer Pre-Shaped.” Right there on the deck of your board. Not sexy.”


Click over to Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia Of Surfing for the full story on Michel Barland.




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