Roy Stuart builds longboards fit for — or at least expensive enough for kings. But what in holy heaven could make his Baron surfboard cost $US528,000?
The 3.7m long, 20kg Baron is modelled after the pre-colonial, "Olo" longboards — the boards reserved for royalty. Longer, heavier surfboards make for a sturdier, faster ride. When you really get going on some big swell it's supposed to feel like you're flying. Ride the same wave on Roy Stuart's Baron Surfboard, and now we're talking some stupor-inducing, transcendental, "I just saw god" shit. Hell, I just saw god looking at this thing, and I can't even surf.
The Baron looks beautiful, but from the outside it looks like more or less what you would expect. What make's Roy Stewart's boards "the most hydrodynamically advanced boards ever built" is his unique technique. All modern longboards are hollow, but Stewart's are built using "parallel profile" construction: layers of wood (Paulowina wood, in the Baron's case) are laminated over a mould — much like layering fibreglass on the hull of a ship. The technique makes his boards thinner and more flexible than others. Stuart then hand-shapes the raw board to the exact specifications of the purchaser.
Sure, the Baron costs 500 times more than your average surfboard. But that's the price you pay for art. Roy Stewart: The Damien Hirst of surfboard shapers. [Roy Stewart Surfboards]