Vern Jackson is regarded as one of the South coasts leading board shaper’s, he has forged a reputation having shaped thousands of boards and worked for some of the industries leading names. Through sheer determination and passion for over thirty years coupled with a strong work ethic he has strived for precision to create a high performance product. His team riders include some of the highest achieving, talented surfers to come out of the South Coast.
Vern Jackson sets the bar high when assessing the path for his future direction. He is a dedicated obsessive compulsive board shaper, who lives and breathes his craft 24/7.
A more likeable approachable character you would never find in the industry. He doesn’t waste time undermining the credibility of others but rather is gracious for the influences he has benefited from over the years. He is generous in his praise for many and thankful for having been the reciprocate of some wise and clever insights into board design over the years. He markets his boards in Australia, Hawaii, Japan, Canada and New Caledonia.
Vern has spent the best part of 30 years living on the South Coast, he now resides in the quiet coastal hamlet of Lake Tabourie near Ulladulla, with his lovely partner Melissa and young sons Koby and Keoni. The satisfaction he draws from his career and the confidence he has gained is reflected in the harmonious family relationship.
Vern was born in Maroubra in 1972 and grew up on the mid north Coast at Crowdy head, later moving to the South Coast when he was aged 15. It would be only a year later that he shaped his first board. A photo of Vern cranking off the bottom of a Moruya river mouth left hangs proudly in a prominate position, in his house.
Moving to Byron Bay aged 21 with having shaped only 200 boards was to be a pivotal part of his development as a shaper.
He approached Warren Cornish for work at his factory, the home of McTavish designs. Vern was asked to display his skills in front of the gazing and experienced eyes of the foam carving guru, Warren. He shaped, what in hindsight was to be one of the most important boards of his career. In a busy factory among other shapers he produced under pressure a board that impressed the owner.
The board once glassed was to be the centre of intense scrutiny from Warren and his peers. Placed on a coffee table throughout the meeting with the young Vern Jackson, various aspects of the shape were discussed the result of which was an offer laid on the table by Warren Cornish. He asked Vern if he could teach his shapers to produce a board like his, the offer which included extra money extended to managing the factory.
Vern went on and worked for Cornish for some – years, managing operations and overseeing several other shapers, some of whom were his senior by many years and were initially, slightly put out by the young southern guns rise.
This difficult task asked of the young Vern was the start of his journey as a prominate shaper, here he learnt factory production procedures, fine tuned his technique and forged a strong work ethic. During his Byron days he also shaped for Local Knowledge, Kirra Surf and Surfboards Hawaii.
Vern contacted Bruce Heggie of Wave Graffiti surf boards from Byron, he enquired about the operation status at the Ulladulla factory, consequently Vern relocated to Ulladulla to shape under his own label Vern Jackson Surfboards.
For the next four and half years that was the centre for Vern Jackson shapes. At the height of his operations there he employed eight people and glassed boards for many other local shapers, his foot hold in the locality was starting to grow, along with his ever glowing reputation as a shaper of a quality product.
The factory was also a point of sale, so along with week days in the shaping bay the demands on his time extended to weekends, where he often found himself dealing with the customers. Ulladulla is a tourism driven location, which has dictated the economic viability of local businesses as well as Vern’s. This after time took its toll and drained his energy, so a new direction was hatched.
In the time since and during the last ten years he has travelled to Sydney regularly, to various glassing factories to get his boards laminated. This brought him into contact with some of the industries biggest names. It led to shaping for Simon Anderson, Hot Buttered and Aloha surfboard companies.
In the past twenty years Vern has shaped thousands of surf boards most of which were hand shaped. In the last few years he has been experimenting with new materials such as carbon fibre, epoxy resin and different types of foam cores. He believes the future of surf boards is going to be in construction, using new light weight materials.
Vern recently purchased a APS 3000 computer shaping machine, A round cutting head that does 90% of the preshape. Now all of his boards will be 90% machine shaped. Vern is stoked with his investment which allows for a highly tuned product that can be replicated exactly every time.
The process of machine shaping still requires final sanding and finishing with deaf touch. This means there is in fact not a great deal of time saved when using the machine method, but what it does allow for is small adjustments and exact copies of boards. If you like the old board or have ridden someone else’s that works, Vern can now mimic that shape precisely.
Vern states “I just make high performance surf boards”, he delights in finding the magic board to suit the person based on the way they surf.
Vern believes making surf boards these days is a numbers game to gain the perfect shape. Finding consistent foil and thickness in relation to the boards shape and rails has been made easier with the computer CAD program.
In 2014 Vern has finished building his new high tech surfboard factory at Kings Point Ulladulla where he will be manufacturing surfboards and sending them to all parts of the globe.