Behind the Brand: Michael Andrews grew up in Cronulla, south of Sydney, home to some of Australia's heaviest waves. He started shaping in his garage when he was 16, and is now regarded as one of the best hand-craftsmen in the business, with more than 20 years of shaping experience under his belt. He has shaped for multiple labels—including six years shaping for Rip Curl—and scores of professional surfers who have all demonstrated an appreciation for the surfability of his boards. With a sharp eye for detail, his passion for shaping is highlighted by his innovative and enthusiastic approach to his work, making him a sought-after talent for all varieties of surfboards. His latest project, Wellen Surfboards, was established in 2007.
About his Most Popular Models: "Custom high-performance shortboards are by far our most popular boards. That is the board that we make again and again for people. Retro fish come in a close second with tinted resin and gloss and polish. The boards we are making are all high-performance and extremely high quality. We aren't trying to take any shortcuts. Global Glassing has done a great job making sure our glass jobs are impeccable."
Taking the Pulse: "We are always trying to refine the shapes and fine-tune the dimensions with the team to give them the best boards individually tailored to their surfing. As for 2009, we have refined the models we are releasing to really emphasize high-performance surfing, regardless of your vessel. We are making just about as many standard thruster shapes as we are updated retro templates in order to really give the surfer of today everything they want to have fun in the water in a variety of conditions."Shop Talk
What's the most important quality to look for in a surfboard? "At the end of the day, drive is the most important quality to have in your surfboard. No drive, no speed, no turn. Speed defies gravity!"
What trends in design would you like to see develop? "I think a trend that we are already seeing that seems to only be getting stronger is customs. Surfers are realizing that a custom board can't be beat.
What's the best way to identify the gap between a customer's wants and true needs? "Surf with them. Surfing with someone or watching footage of them surf really helps us dial a board in to be tailored to their surfing."
What's the most dramatic refinement or shift in design going to be in 2009? "Foam consistency. It'll be interesting to see if anyone can pull it off. This will also be the year of the custom board in my opinion. Surfers are realizing that you can never beat a custom board. We want to help our customers get a board that will cater to where they surf and their ability."