We just stumbled across Gary McNeills boards - his collab Sacred Geometry series with art by Jonathan Quintin is wild! Garys restored faith in keeping fun at the forefront of surfing with no partners or other agendas to get in the way is admirable and a poignant reminder for us all to keep it real!
Read Garys story below or check out his website here: www.garymcneillconcepts.com.au
56 cosmic craft for Dave Rastovich, Sacred Geometry series art by Jonathan Quintin
The late seventies was an amazing era to surf and be inspired. Boards went to twin fins and surfing was all about your mates and surfing all day. The idea to shape my own craft became an obsession. Shaping being a very guarded craft at the time I had no choice but to setup a shaping bay in a backyard shed and give it a go. Luckily for me, my dad and brother are engineers and build mining equipment for something to do. They oversaw my first real attempt at mowing a blank. Five hours later of methodical tuning, the first board was done. It actually went really well. Number 2, 3, 4 and 5 after that were all dogs, so beginners luck is true. It set me on a path of self belief finding what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
The eighties came on like a runaway train. Booming economies, competitive surfing and fluro everything. I was no different being swept up in the whole competitive drive at the time. I was sponsored by Byrne surfboards when Tommy Carroll was crushing everyone, still tinkering with my own boards on the side. I was fortunate that Phil Byrne gave me access to Tommy’s swap backs and to feel what a really light board could do, opened my eyes to flex and shorter boards. Fast forward to the late eighties early nineties, my pregnant wife tells me it’s time to move to sunny Queensland, needing to be near her mum and family and with an Australian Title now achieved, my competition surfing on the south coast was over and I was thinking great sand bottom points. I eventually got a job as Nev Hymans’ production manager and oversaw mass production of a scale never dreamed of to me as grom. It was a great learning curve. The best thing I got from that time was watching Nev hang off a planer doing big guns for Northern California. It taught me a way of handshaping that was fast and accurate and I’m thankful for the lessons learnt.
Into the nineties I’m immersed in Kirra Boardriders, where I become friends with Darren Handley. His star was well on the rise and along with numerous other labels being produced at the Simpson Street factory, I land a ghost shaping apprenticeship, you would call it as I had to learn a whole new way of finishing boards and once again thankful for my time there and the lessons learnt in my shaping evolution.
The new millennium arrives and I find myself as production manager for another star on the rise I spend three years working at the JS factory, but I get to the point where after twenty years of seeing the mass commercialisation of surfing and surfboards. I realise it’s not where I want to go in my shaping journey.
Enter one David `Rasta’ Rastovich and with his collaboration, he gave me inspiration to create new and different boards. It gave me back some belief in why people surf and why surfing is still just for fun. Six years on I have gone full circle back to being just me as a shaper. No partners or other agendas to get in the way, just a pure stoke on creating new boards that are fun to ride with a high performance element. I would like to thank my Byron Bay circle of friends for the ongoing inspiration and encouragement to stay true to myself on my shaping journey and invite anyone with an open mind to come along for the ride. There are no limits to what is possible with surfboards.
Welcome to my journey,
Taylor Steeles new Dogman Rhino model with art by Jonathan Quintin.