Social photos by Matty Wong
Tonight in Venice Beach, Stab, Swell.com and Hurley hosted the global premiere for Stab in the Dark. A fabulous mix of leather, denim and skin brushed around 800 Main, spilling House Beer, Boyd and Blair Vodka and Jose Cuervo Tradicional on a packed rooftop. Following a redirection to the second floor at 9.25, the mini-documentary starring Julian Wilson was shown onscreen, and the winner of Stab in the Dark was announced.
The overriding goal of this project was to see if we could answer the question: Is it possible to call a surfboard the best in the world? Sure, it’s a flawed objective. A board’s performance is subjective. But acknowledging this, we invited 12 of the world’s best shapers to each create a board for an unidentified 6’0”, 80kg CT surfer. Fast-forward some months and Julian Wilson was standing in the garage of a West Oz rental, opening two coffins full of cleanskin boards – no markings, no stickers, no pencil on the stringer, nothing identifiable – one from California, the other direct from Sydney (even more background info, here).
Jules was a real sport this evening, giving time to anyone who wanted to talk. Even he didn’t know who made the winning board, but knew it would be one of the crafts hanging from their tails along the second story wall. And it wasn’t until the documentary reached the final board of the countdown that the winner was announced: DHD, by Darren Handley.
Julian feels out the DHD #99. Photo: Chris Gurney
Once the announcement was made, Jules and Darren shook hands, hugged, and Darren was handed a framed Stab in the Dark issue cover. He forewent a speech, with the vibe instead moving into Todd Terje’s Inspector Norse turned up to 11. Jules and Darren continued talking boards for another 10 minutes while the party went on around them.
And then, really feels it out. The best overall performer underfoot. Photo: Ryan Miller.
Says Julian of the DHD: “I knew this board was going to work! It felt the best under my arm out of the batch and was always going to be a dream going frontside. It was fast, super responsive, exciting and definitely the best board. It felt pretty money!”
Runner up: Chilli #01
“To have any chance of surfing on your backhand you have to be able to come off the bottom without hesitation, otherwise there’s no chance of doing a backside reo,” said Julian of the Chilli. “This was one of the only boards that gave me that confidence. A great all-rounder.”
Third place: Mayhem #31
“I liked the feel of this board, I reckon I could take it out anywhere and have a good time on it; lefts or rights,” said Julian of the Mayhem. “It felt spicy. Spice is excitement, the feeling that really technical and high performance moves are possible.”
Final Stab in the Dark results (as chosen by Julian Wilson):
1. DHD #99
2. Chilli #01
3. Mayhem/Lost #31
4. JS #23
5. Panda #10
6. Sharp Eye #13
7. Channel Islands #03
8. Dahlberg #16
9. Simon Anderson #00
10. Robo #36
11. Stamps #05 (tied with Robo)
12. Pyzel (Did not arrive)
The Stab in the Dark mini-documentary drops on Stabmag.com at 10:30am Thursday, Pacific time. It’s 15-ish minutes long and features one of the world’s most technically perfect surfers pushing himself on bespoke (but blind date) surfboards in Western Australia over 10 days. You won’t wanna miss it. We’ll also be dropping a short profile series on the shapers in the coming weeks. Stay tuned.