Behind the Brand: For more than a quarter-century Tim Bessell has been keeping La Jolla's legacy of innovation intact. Of all the reef-lined corners of the West Coast, none has been a more active test lab through the decades than his. The legacy is one that has been passed by guys like Mike Diffenderfer, Pat Curren, Carl Ekstrom, and the Mirandon brothers. Bessell grew up in this freethinking environment. He shaped his first board in his parents' garage when he was 13 years old. By 15, he was shaping for Sunset Surfboards. At 18, he moved to Hawaii and shaped for Lighting Bolt. He would go on to shape for Billy Caster, Town & Country, G&S, and even Lost. Since opening his first shop in 1982 behind the 7-Eleven, he's made more than 47,000 boards, with a list of riders that spans generations: from David Nuuhiwa and Chris O'Rourke, to Brad Gerlach, Shane Dorian and the Malloy brothers. Like his hometown predecessors, Bessell isn't the conforming type. The status quo bores him, which is why he's been credited with introducing concepts like vector channel bottoms and was at the forefront of carbon-fiber parabolic rails. These days he's enjoying advancing asymmetrical tail theories, first introduced by Carl Ekstrom in the '60s, and providing valuable feedback in the quest for alternative materials.
About his Most Popular Models: True to his experimental roots, many of Bessell's best sellers are designed for those seeking added thrills. "My Eliminator swallow-tail is my most popular model," he explains. "But most of my guys are riding my Carbon-X Reflex Asymmetrical Tail. Matter of fact, J.P. Dekerver won the Mexican national title riding one." Bessell is also singing the praises of Aviso technology.
Taking the Pulse: "Epoxy vacuum bagging is going to be big this year—whether they're hand-shaped or computer-assisted. I think Aviso's carbon-fiber boards are going to be huge, too. "Shop Talk
If you had to narrow your quiver down to three boards what would they be? "The first would be my 6'6" Carbon-X Reflex Eliminator, which works in every type of condition. The next would be my 9'0" Gary Propper model, which is a great all-around longboard, and the last would be my 9'0" Rhino-Chaser gun. With those three I'd have something for small, huge, and everything in between."
What inspires you most in your shaping? "I'm about the state-of-the-art—the most advanced surfboards, the most advanced technology, the most advanced design. That's what I'm about."
Is there a particular trend you would like to see end, or another that you'd like to see continue? "If boards made by people who didn't surf went away, I think the future of design would be a lot better. I'm somebody who still surfs, everyday. And then I jump in my shaping room and shape, everyday. There's already a reemergence in custom-made boards happening, and I hope it continues."