Ari Browne: Looking for Form, not Function

When Josh Keogh rang me and told me about this, umm, project, my first question was, “What if it’s 8ft?”

The boys didn’t have any room in the board bags for anything other than the spawn of his experiment, and knowing how little actual science had gone into the creations (because Josh had told me as much), I couldn’t help but wonder if they’d snookered themselves. Possibly squandering the trip of a lifetime in Morocco. Thankfully, due in part to Ari Browne‘s freakish talent on anything that floats, they pulled it off.

Not your average pro surf guy quiver.

“It all started over a cuppa at Ari’s house,” says Josh Keogh, the man who made these crafts and also helped test them. “The initial idea was pretty straightforward—let’s make a bunch of different boards and take them somewhere and just surf them, not necessarily for a film.” Next thing you know the boys have got an official-looking presentation on their hands, complete with sketches of all the designs they were thinking and were putting the idea to RVCA, Ari’s sponsor. Remarkably it was a yes, and so Josh, via the south coast satellite phone, set about bringing the unusual outlines to life.

Quite the testing ground.

“It was to and fro between me and Ari when I was making the boards,” Josh tells me. “We just wanted them to look really different, we didn’t really care how they worked. We were interested in form, not function. Let’s throw function out the window and see if looking intergalactic transfers into performance.” The Moroccan points were chosen as the test track, partly because of the time of year, and partly due to Ari’s talent being most obvious on a righthander. And off they went. Straight into a swell.

When it comes to right-handers sans fins, few do it better.

“It was really good,” Josh tells me of arriving in a foreign land, with otherworldly surfcraft in tow. “The waves were really big and scary and so were the locals. It was really crowded, but it was a beautiful spot and super raw; it was cold, reminded me of Bells.” But what about the boards? “Surprisingly, some of them went incredibly,” Josh tells me. “The bottle went pretty well, and so did the pitchfork; all of them had the elements in them that they needed to work, and then we dressed them up a lot.” The real winner, however, was the glass-bottom board known as the portal—a board featuring a see-through panel 3/4 of the way up the deck.

“It has corrugated channels and then it’s a mid length performance mal shape with a big fibreglass portal in the deck,” Josh explains. “It worked really well. It’s in my shed, I’m planning on selling it for $10,000 once the clip blows up,” he laughs. Experimental finless surfing isn’t for everyone, but if you’ve ever attempted to slip down the face without any rudders you can appreciate just how refined Ari Browne has this peculiar art form. Furthermore, seeing someone performing with finesse on a six-foot wave on a finless plank with a fibreglass window in it, you can’t help but have a chuckle at those who get sucked into the latest surfboard fad, where technology’s presented as the combatant to lacklustre ability.

Check out seven minutes of some of the most remarkable surfing that you’ll see this week, right here.

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