Photo: Steve Sherman
Surfing: How will Channel Islands fare after your departure?
RM: CI is probably still the best high-performance surfboard manufacturer in the world. I think they will continue to stay on that path. There are plenty of talented team riders that they work with now, you know… Conner, Dane. They don’t have much to worry about.
TK: CI is still such a strong company, I don’t see it being affected too much. But then again you never know, losing Kelly made a huge impact right away, so I’m sure they’re gonna feel it, but they’re just gonna have to share the market (laughs). What I’ve seen around here is people reverting back to getting boards from good local shapers as a opposed to going with a big brand. So in that sense, the whole industry is more competitive, and it will be interesting to see where the market gravitates.
Surfing: Any parting thoughts on CI, business or personal?
TK: CI has a lot of pressure to keep releasing and more models. This can be good, because it helps evolve the sport and the brand, but it can also be bad because when you’re in pursuit of “hitting your numbers”, you may have to concede valuable R&D time. You start with one design, and it feels good, but there’s always room for improvement. It took me a good 3-4 months to finish my model, and that was with one of the top 3 surfboards designers in the world.
RM: I got my first CI when I was 15, and I’m like 80 now, so I was with them forever. They were basically family to me. Everyone there -- the guys at the factory, all the way to Al and his whole clan. I’d go up and stay at their house, work on boards and just hang. It wasn’t really a work relationship, it was much more than that. I’ll cherish those times together.