Neal Purchase Jnr
Before the sand pumping, old kirra was one of the wonders of the surfing world. Raw, spinning and viciously crowded. A fickle dream for the many unidentified, ripping Australian tradesmen and dole-bludgers who had it wired. But at the apex of the pecking order was a goofy-footer with deep local roots. My friend Pablo said the whole lineup out there used to stop and watch him tear kirra apart, parking his frame deeper than anyone else thought possible, only emerging to destroy the lip. The evidence of those thruster days are buried on old Billabong VHS, but if you like your shaper to surf really, really well, Neal Purchase Jnr does.
Pushed into his first tube around the age of five, given his heritage (his father Neal Purchase shaped for the finest surfers of the day under Keyo, Hot Stuff and finally his own label) it is no surprise that Jr started mowing foam. But before that was an era of radical experimentation with board design. His surfing at that time is probably best described by Andrew Kidman’s Glass Love, when Neal was riding widowmakers and fish and starting to pick up the planer to support his board habit. You can watch Neal’s backhand approach at the superbank on a single-fin, drawing deceptively simple lines, getting buried behind the foamball. It’s hard to describe paddling up towards the rocks at little marley and seeing Neal pull in, assume he’s gone, only to see him kick out way past greenmount.
“Out there,” Rabbit Bartholomew summed it up, “no one gets deeper.”
What has followed is incredible evolution as a shaper-designer, always keeping it custom and constantly innovating. Neal is always experimenting, chasing feelings and translating that into highly functional surfboards. Radical designs like the duo are proven to work, not just under Neal’s own feet but by a host of stellar surfers. Check out Harrison Roach in Last Flight to Agadir or Chippa Wilson in the What Youth x Stance short, Duo. Neal’s designs are based around his own surfing – speed, flow and power – which is something any average joe surfer can relate to.