COBRA IS HIS DAD
1800 | INTRODUCTIONS | 2145 PIZZA | COSTA MESA, CA
We each order our own pie along with a few appetizers and drinks not realizing how much food was actually about to show up. We learn about Serena and Paul's fascinating experience in the surf industry in both France and California. It was humbling to be surrounded by people that have done such amazing things to keep surfing beautiful and to move it forward season after season and always with an awesome artistic direction. It got us very stoked to go watch Paul do his art.
DAY ONE | SHAPING STARTS | INERTIA | SANTA ANA, CA
GOOGLE MAPS, STARBUCKS, MORNING TRAFFIC... THE USUAL.
Santa Ana is an industrial town just a few more miles inland than Costa Mesa. It offers less in terms of colorful oceanside vibes and trendy places to eat, however, it is here where you will find Inertia Surfboards–where Paul LeFevre worked for years glassing masterpieces alongside other industry legends and workhorses alike. Held down by Mike and his wife for decades, the two shape and glass boards themselves and lease their space to shapers and glassers like Paul. The majority of Paul's career took place here working under Matt Biolos, glassing Mayhems and learning the tricks of the trade. Paul says shaping here is much less expensive for him than in France due to cost of importing/exporting goods.
We arrive to find Paul patiently waiting for us. We deliver the coffee and get the grand tour of Inertia.
Just on the other side of the door when you first walk in is where you will see racks of pre-cut foam blanks waiting to be hand-shaped into some of the world's finest surfboards. Each shaper has their own section where they keep their blanks. We notice Paul's area where our Mid-length, Round Twin, and Classic Fish blanks are set aside. The Round Twin and Classic Fish look very similar aside from their tail. The Round Twin's tail has already been cut down relatively close to what it will look like when it is finished, however, the blank Classic Fish's tail is squared off. The blank of the Mid-length stands tall next to the two others.
Our first series we did with Paul (wWRD_SOC_013-018) consists of six boards total. Two of each of his signature shapes. Three black boards and three white boards. While we there we watched him get started on the first three. The black 5'6 Classic Fish with inverted stracciatella, the black 5'8 Round Twin with the cracked marble and the black 7'4 Mid-length with the masked resin swirl which makes it reminiscent of a vintage automobile.
Utilizing a curated palette of cutting edge style and timeless technique; each Son of Cobra board is hand-shaped by Paul to give the rider a truly authentic surfing experience. The beauty in Paul’s shapes comes from many years of working as a glasser for LOST Surfboards and several other world renowned companies in both California and France. Paul’s machine-like craftsmanship can be seen in every curve of his boards. He specializes in blending modern and classic ideologies to bring the rider the pinnacle in performance, style, aesthetic and feel. The Son of Cobra x Neon Wave collection (WWRD_SOC_013-018) offers a range of eclectic shapes that celebrate the diverse forms of surfing. The black and white resin was chosen to highlight the lines and curves of Paul’s shapes. The Classic Twin, the Round Twin, and the Midlength are all suited to provide the surfer with an experience that celebrates the past while living in the future.
Though there are parts of Paul's process that he needs remain secret, we were able to sit in through just about the entirety of the shaping and glassing. Fully enveloped in his element, we watched as he began removing the grooves that the CNC machine had left on his blank templates. He starts with the Round Twin (5'8 x 20 x 25/8).
The single concave can already be seen from the blank. He starts with some fine tuning near the rails behind where the the fins will go. Instantly, you can start to see some of his signature styling taking shape. The Round Twin has a significantly sharper rail in the back than it does along the rest of the board. The sharp rail's behind the fins give the board traction which border a single concave that gives the board lift and speed.
"I love the speed and the drive of the twin so I always wanted to try to have a round tail twin combo. The drive of the twin is super loose with the round tail..."
Next, Paul starts on the Classic Twin (5'6 x 201/2 x 25/8) - a retro fish template with some added rocker. After sanding down the board the same way he did with the Round Twin, he takes his pencil and stencils the tail onto the foam. Then he grabs his saw and begins to saw through the stringer up from the tail. He continues to the left and then to the right, being careful to not take too big of a chunk and splitting the entire blank. This is where you can physically see years of experience coming in to play. He quickly fine tunes the tail down to a perfectly symmetrical retro fish shape using a variety of different tools.
"In small to medium waves it’s super fun, it goes fast, it’s really classic and a very fun board."
Paul claims this is "the best small wave board" for him. Short and chunky, his Classic Twin is perfect for those small, mushy days. "The Classic Twin is a different version of the legendary twin keel with its performance qualities updated. This board runs a single concave bottom shape, a low entry rocker and a generous volume line. The extra tail rocker makes the backside more manageable. The Classic Twin is more than a small wave catcher... It’s a super reliable daily Twinny." - Paul
DAY TWO | FUME LIFE | INERTIA SURFBOARDS | SANTA ANA, CA
WE MOVE INTO THE BACK ROOM WHERE ALL THE GLASSING GETS DONE.
On the second day Paul had moved onto glassing the boards. He brought the sanded blanks into the back room where there were dozens of stands all evenly spaced out. Another glasser was working on a dozen Mayhems for Kolohe Anderson to take to the Founders cup for practice the week prior.
Paul drenches the boards in thick black resin and smears it back and forth until it oozes over the edges. He collects the runoff in the bucket he pours from (or tries to at least) and pours its back on top of the board. He then takes a paintbrush to smooth everything out and distribute the resin evenly along the board.
The Midlength gets a different treatment than the rest. For the first layer, he mixes a different blend of paint and resin to create a resin swirl through the center of the board. Once that dries he masks the center of the board and paints the rails the same dark black as the other boards.
DAY THREE | SANDING, PAINTING AND FINISHING | INERTIA | SANTA ANA, CA
THE NEXT STEP IS TO SAND DOWN THE PAINTED RESIN.
After applying the fiberglass, resin, and multiple layers of paint Paul moves forward with sanding the boards down making a smooth finish before he goes back to add his signature touches.
We were asked to turn off the cameras at this point. When we returned to start filming again, Paul was only a few steps away from the final product. He heads back to the glassing room and douses the boards in clear coat.
Watching Paul shape and glass these boards by hand opened my eyes to how truly special it is to ride a hand-shaped board. Each part of the process was carefully and meticulously executed making for a perfect final product each time. In a line of work that requires minimal mistakes, it was inspiring to watch Paul work his magic and deliver.