Roy Stewart builds longboards fit for—or at least expensive enough for kings. But what in holy heaven could make his Baron surfboard cost $528,000?
The 12-foot long, 45-pound Baron is modeled 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 Stewart'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 is beautiful, but from the outside it looks like more or less what you would expect besides that crazy-looking eight-inch tunnel fin. The fin is supposed to improve the board's efficiency, but according to Roy Stewart, his creations are "the most hydrodynamically advanced boards ever built" thanks to his meticulous "avant-garde" technique. Modern wooden longboards are hollow, but unlike the lion's share, Stewart's are built using "parallel profile" construction: Layers of wood (Paulowina wood, in the Baron's case) are laminated over a mold—much like layering fiberglass on the hull of a ship. Stewart then hand-shapes the raw board to the exact specifications of the purchaser.
Sure, the Baron costs 500 times more than your average wooden board. But that's the price you pay for art. Roy Stewart: The Damien Hirst of surfboard shapers. [Roy Stewart Surfboards]