We've known Jools from Gulfstream Surfboards for a while now; you might have caught our range in their Braunton store, or seen the London quiver designed by Jose, Jools' right-hand woman. With our Bristol launch looming, we caught up with Jools and talked boards and business, including the new range designed exclusively for the Bristol store.
In Conversation With Gulfstream's Shaper Jools Matthews
4 min read
Written by Chris Betty
Image by Maeva Cushla
How were you first introduced to surfing and the business of shaping?
During an extended surf trip to California in ’91 I met a shaper who inspired me to start shaping myself. There were a lot more people shaping back then; you could find a local shaper in every town, therefore it wasn’t difficult to find a route into the industry. When I eventually came home I bought my first blank and started making boards for friends and family. That was the seed of Gulfstream.
What is a typical day like for you in North Devon?
If I’m not at work, I’m with my family and friends. Apart from that I try to surf every day. If I run, I can surf and be back at work or ready for the school run inside an hour. That’s why you’ll never see me walking to or from the surf. It’s a luxury I don’t take for granted.
From Andrew Cotton to Ted Baker, you've worked with many both in and outside of the industry. Where do you channel your inspiration from and how important are these relationships in the ever evolving world of surfboard design?
Our creative process is part of the working day. We find inspiration both from our local environment and our travels. Being able to work with varied clients like Ted Baker and Andrew Cotton gives us the perfect opportunity to express our values in surfboard design and performance. There is nothing more important.
What is your favourite board in the Gulfstream arsenal and why?
You have to tell me what the surf is like before I can do that! But if the surf is good it’s the Skippa all day long because I feel like it is still helping me to improve my surfing.
Do you place importance upon local shaping for home conditions?
Good boards work full stop. The trick is to match the individual surfer’s desires and abilities to the conditions they want to surf. That’s the real fairy dust.
Talk us through your understanding of greener, more sustainable materials and the current practices available. What is on the Gulfstream horizon?
Greener blanks and greener eps resins are fairly readily available. As it stands ‘greener’ in the surfboard industry means products that last longer and that are built with slightly greener materials. There is no sense that the vast majority of surfboards will be bio-degradable or recyclable any time soon.
How do you achieve the balance between designing high performance surfboards and traditional shapes such as the classic Speed Dialer?
At last an easy question. The simple answer is I ride them all. That’s the most fun way to develop any design.
Talk us through the latest collection of Gulfstream boards currently en route to the Finisterre Bristol store.
The six board collection covers three of our most popular shapes and one completely new design. All of the shapes have a performance pedigree in a vast array of surf conditions.
Starting with our classic 5’.8” Keel Fin fish, followed by the new design 5’.10” Urchin. Next there are three performance Speed Dialers 6’.0”, 6’.2”, 6’.4” and the range is completed with the free flowing 6’.6” Eggplant. Each board is hand crafted with unique and curated artwork. The result is a collection of boards that are beautiful, modern and understated.
Photo credits: In the water - Gordon Dryburgh; in the workshop: Jose Walker