The Full Stab Interview with Todd
Nick Rozsa in the Homegrown Series all but broke the internets on release, proving men with full beards can still be kings. Then he dropped a second set of Homegrown clips and they were even more well received. With the editing skills of Chris Papaleo, Rozsa has made the sharp end of our drop-everything-and-watch list with surfing that’s holistic and smooth. He needed fine equipment under his feet to play so hard, and for that we can thank shaper Todd Proctor. Proctor is a traditionalist and we dig. While the big players of the manufacturing biz pump out model after model onto the credit statements of consumerist gents, Proctor’s speciality is still in custom shapes and the conversations around them. “Ninety percent of my business is custom boards,” he says. “It’s been my priority for over 23 years. It’s something you have to guard and work hard to protect.” As for Nick’s crafts, they’re a specialised product in themselves. “Nick’s surfing is so radical, some people actually say, ‘now I’m no Nick Rozsa, so I don’t need a board like that.’ He’s that good he’s kinda intimidating in a way to your working class surfer… The majority of my clients say, ‘You tell me Todd, what do I want, what direction do you think I should go?”
Shaper: Todd Proctor
Dims: 5’10” x 18 3/4” x 2 3/8”
Volume: 27 litres
Nick’s board for when the waves get good and overhead around home and the design he rides for travel to good waves.
Can you tell us about the board/s he road in the clip?
The board he rode in the latest homegrown ep. 1 is called the SR-71. It is 5’10” x 18 3/4” x 2 3/8”. It is actually a rocker I’ve been running for close to 10 years….I just dropped a bit of the nose rocker out of the tip, added slightly heavier concaves for some increased grip and drive, and put the outline of another board model on it (the G-4+) to give it some hips by the fins for a little more reactive pivot, beefed up the rail volume from the standard stock in those dimensions….because Nick pushes hard through his turns….uses lots of power and needs a nice full pushback rail. So, I guess it’s a bit of a customized conglomerate synthesis combining a bunch of design concepts, some new, some old, some reinvented and reconfigured…customized for my buddy Nick.
why the length, why the thickness?
We went slightly longer on this one. He had been riding 5’9”s most of last year as his good waves shortboard, but it just seemed like he needed a touch more rail line to draw a bit longer arcs…in good waves a longer arc that holds speed and throws big sprays looks nice….brings some elegance and flow with power. We also went a bit thicker from 2 1/4”/ 2 5/16” last year up to 2 3/8” and from 26 liters up to 27 liters because Nick started to eat healthier and go for runs…..and guess what …he put on weight….muscle weight….pretty cool….so he needed some more board.
How long did the board last? I think he’s still riding it…so it’s still going strong four months later.
The other board (the cathedral).
is his go to for 90% of what he rides at home i.e. Cali kinda waves. It is a 5’8” x 19 1/4” x 2 3/8” 27.5L Monsta HD. This board is the latest derivative of the original black railed Monsta that Nick rode for over a year during the first homegrown series. This latest one is just a touch bigger all around since this year Nck put on some more muscle weight. This is a super user friendly easy to ride board that generates incredible speed when the waves are small or mushy, yet will go lightning where it counts in the steep bits of the wave. It has a super deep, almost tow depth single concave through the fins and even right off the tail block. We’ve found this keeps the water flying through the fin cluster and right off the tail block….great for the whips he likes to do. There is also a really unique bonzeresque steep double concaves inset into that deep single as well….so you’ve got a lot of water getting compressed and pushed through the back half of the board….we like to call it the back foot gas pedal. Incredible hold, incredible drive with controlled release….that’s the concept behind the creation of the ‘cathedral’.
How much input does Nick put into his boards?
We surf together, so …well, Nick is the kinda guy who let’s his surfing do his talking….so when I watch him surf, I get ideas of what we can do. And usually it’s pretty cool because I’ll be like “hey, I got an idea….and Nick will say that’s just what I was thinking….and then other times Nick will say, “hey, I got an idea, and I’ll say that’s just what I was thinking.”
How many boards a year does he get?
As many as he needs to do what he does.
What is your signature design element?
I like putting lot’s of heavy concaves into boards….into the key spots that’ll make a board have a heftier engine so to speak….hull contours that give the board an extra spark; a gas pedal under the back foot. I like balancing extreme hull contours with rail lines that keep them still predictable in a wide variety of conditions, yet bring out the unpredictability factor out as to the places and timing on the wave that stuff can go down.
Nick’s style seems pretty rough and tumble, do you have to equate for that?
Yeah for sure. Every surfer is different ….different style, different approach, different build, body mechanics, goals, etc….. Nick is his own person. He likes to do what he likes to do. And he likes pushing things forward. That requires a lot of thought regarding different board ideas. I think that’s why we enjoy what we do. He like pushing the limits of stuff that is not the same old cookie cutter kind of thing….he’s like a gnarly test pilot hitting the gas and torquing hard of the controls, and I’m the one building the planes….and we both wanna go as fast, and critical, and unpredictable, and styled out and smooth and radical as we can.
Did you notice more people inquiring about the boards Nick rides since his internet stardom?
More people that want to get sponsored….no, really though. Nick’s surfing is so radical, that most people that are working class surfers will actually say, “Now I’m not Nick Rozsa so I don’t need a board like that….” But I trust that you can make me the board that is right for me…..so tell me what I need…” Nick is that good….that he is kinda intimidating in a way to your average person. Almost unrelatable he is that talented. But then there’s the kids that rip and have sponsors and are kinda getting the hook up with stuff…and they can sort of relate on some kind of small level….and they say, “Hey Nick Rozsa rips, will you sponsor me…” So there are those two very interesting dynamics which are both quite fun for me and my wife to experience.
Were you surprised when you saw what he was doing on your boards, particularly in that series?
Yes and no. Like I said, we surf together and so I’ve seen what he can do before the webworld got to experience the wunderkind. It is one thing to see what he has done but I’m just as excited to see what Nick has in store for the future. He is a natural. He is a pure surfer. Look at how smooth his whole program is. It is not often you see a surfer doing what he is doing and have it not look forced and like he is “trying”….it just flows and I like that.
What’s your custom vs off-the-rack ratio?
I do 90% custom boards. That is what I have placed a high importance and priority on for over 23 years. It is something you have to guard and work hard to protect. For me it is all about the relationships and making the board that is going to be that supernatural portal for someone. That is what my business is based on and has grown from over the course of time….just taking time with people….and then spending all my living life thinking about boards and how to make them better and a perfect fit for each person no matter who they are. Everyone is equally important.
Is it fair to say customs have slid in popularity compared to model boards?
No, the majority of my clients say, “You tell me Todd, what do I want, what direction design-wise do you think I should go?” I think it keeps things real simple that way. Surfers say, “Hey this is how I surf, this is where I surf, this is where I want to go with my surfing…..how do I get there…And I pour out my lifeblood to make it happen. That’s the job God gave me to do…
photos/filming: Chris Papaleo