We took notice to Christopher Campbell a couple of years ago when an edgeboard with a great outline, refined edge, PowerBlade and rad airbrush showed up on our IG feed. After another year of lurking on his IG, we had to reach out to Christopher to see what he was up to and thank him for the support.
Surfer/shaper Christopher Campbell of Saint Christopher Surfcraft is passionate about the edgeboard design and has focused that energy into creating truly unique edge board designs. We were excited to pick his brain on board design, fin pairings and what's next for Saint Christopher Surfcraft. Check out the interview below.
TA: For those unfamiliar with yourself and the Saint Christopher label. Can you please give us a little background on how you got into shaping and what you have been focusing on?
CC: My surfboard shaping practice started in a round-about fashion. I’ve worked as an artist/sculptor since finishing grad school, gaining literacy as a craftsman and honing technical skills. While working as a studio assistant for Matthew Barney in New York City, I surfed as regularly as possible, but wasn’t completely satiated by the meager and fickle waves. With access to the studio space after hours, I decided one way to keep the stoke through the doldrums was to start shaping my own surfboards. With no immediate mentors, I scoured all the available recourses in print and online, shaping and glassing my first 20 or so boards in that studio after hours.
As my confidence built, I began to ask what my contribution to the vibrant surf community of New York City could be; I didn’t want to become a redundant or uninspired shaper if I was going to shape boards for others. These feelings coincided with the release of “On The Edge of a Dream”. The revelation I had after riding the first edge board I shaped was undeniable; I knew this was the path I needed to take…I had felt nothing like it before.
All photos are courtesy of Greg Comollo IG @yo_comollo.
TA: What has drawn you to the edge board design and developing more performance oriented edge boards?
CC: The initial sensation of the edgeboard is pure speed. The cleanliness of the exhaust, as the water projects off the crisply resolved center plane, creates a sort of out-of-water lifted feeling. This paired with the two very distinctly different rocker lines (that of the center plane and that of the rail) brought together a pair of variables that seems inexhaustible. As with all fast boards, you want to be able to harness that speed.
In my edgeboard shaping pursuit, I’ve hoped to find design solutions that alleviate the need to laboriously generate speed but allow the surfer to position the board on the wave in any way they see fit. The boards are not for everyone and it could be said they aren’t “neutral”, but under the feet of a person with an open mind a beautiful dance can take place.
A huge part of this design process has been pairing the designs with the appropriate fins; ones that create projection but allow for aggressive and engaged pivot. It’s the same tireless pursuit of all surfboard builders, but I find it rewarding to tune the designs to our particular brand of, often, punchy beach break in Rockaway, NY.
TA: You use Power Blades/Glides in most of your designs, what do you like about these fins performance and how do they optimize the design characteristic of your boards?
CC: The Greenough Power blade/glide designs seem to work well in the edge boards for a few reasons. Since a primary characteristic of the board is unbridled speed, these fins incur very low drag. The fin has a sort of purity in its function with the narrow base and paddle-like tip. The edgeboards don’t like to be over-ridden, and in that sense the projection of the powerblade fin allows the rider to gain speed, when necessary, without any exasperation. It’s this harmony that turns a board that otherwise might just be fast, into a board that’s dynamic. The upright nature of the powerblade will get the board to 12 o’clock but when I’m surfing bigger-faced waves, the rake of the powerglide draws out turns and provides needed projection. When the boards get longer, the “Greenough high-speed fin” has also been an asset.
TA: You have recently been experimenting with the high speed quad design in your shapes. What is your take on quad edge boards with these really high aspect ratio fins?
CC: The high-speed quad has opened up a whole new world in my edgeboard design. I had tried a few twin-fin edge designs in the past with mixed results. Often, smaller boards seem to balance out their design with high-surface-area/drivey fins, and the edge boards didn’t seem to need that. When I saw the quad set, I thought of how Rich Pavel described his speed-dialer design: an upright keel split into two pieces. I saw this quad set as something of an upright performance twin split into two.
With the window open for more squat outlines, I’ve been exploring these fin’s application on edgeboards ranging from 5’3” to 7’0”. I’ve often been asked, “Is there such a thing as an edgeboard groveler?”. I had assumed that without water moving at the appropriate speed across the bottom of the board, and creating the necessary release, there was no benefit to the design in truly meager surf. This fin design has changed that assumption.
The fins seem to permit the right balance of speed-creation, pivot, and low drag that an edge board would ask for. Their overall profile also provides incredible hold in steep waves, while permitting sensitive adjustments. The edge design requires fin boxes to be set slightly further off of the rail line then a traditional quad set might be, so the elongated tip creates hold where another quad set might not have it.
TA: We get a lot of questions about Power Blades/Glides in combination with side bites. You seem to be using this combo really effectively, what do you like about it?
CC: In my early edgeboard designs I stuck to the classic single-fin powerblade configuration. I was leaving some width in the tail since the surface area of the board through center plane is so reduced. On occasion, I would incur some slippage. I didn’t want to move up in size with the center fin, nor did I want to stiffen up the feeling by moving the fin even further back. It was obvious to me that a pair of small side-bites could provide that little bit of extra hold I needed without incurring too much additional drag.
This configuration has now become my go-to. In critical waves the side-bites permit me to take off on steep angles and hold a highline in a way I never thought imaginable. So much of the edgeboard riding experience is about locking the rail into the wave face and holding impossibly high trim; the side-bite configuration makes this effortless. It certainly doesn’t hurt getting that little bit of extra squirt out of turns as well.
TA: Where do you see your shaping interests turning next? What design trends get you excited?
CC: My mind has been wandering towards asymmetrical edgeboard designs. I see so much benefit to the straightness and length of the rail line on the toe side, but have also been enjoying the tail rocker and shortness of outline on my smaller quad boards. There’s potential to strike a balance between these two qualities. But in actuality, I’m in the early days of my life as a shaper and look forward to refining the edgeboard design in all forms. I have people like the brothers at Kings Glassing and everyone at Pilgrim Surf and Supply to thank for the support on my shaping journey.
Check Christopher Campell-Saint Christopher Surfcraft out at IG @saint_christopher_surfcraft. For custom order information reach out to Christopher at email@example.com