In the new film "Mr. Kookbox," Santa Barbara surfer Nole Cossart takes a journey into 1930s surfboard building. Director Ben Weiland shadowed Cossart for the short film that accompanied a full-length feature in The Surfer's Journal.
"In the in the 1930s a lot of novices just turned up with these replicas of Tom Blake surfboards," explains Cossart on the film's title. "So they were called kook boxes. I figure they were the Wavestorm equivalent of their time."
Cossart has delved deep into the process of hand building these hollow, finless, 50 pound boards. For the first one he, in his own words, simply hacked out a shape out of timber in a few hours. However as his obsession grew he delved deeper into the design with a view to getting tubed on the creations.
The boards vary in length, but his latest models are about 8-foot long and take around 60 hours to complete. To stop the tail sliding out, crucial for any barrel riding action, Cossart had the bottom contour warp into a super deep, hatchet shaped V in the tip of the tail. As the film shows each Kook Box involves lot of head scratching and a process of trial and error to get the plywood to warp around the pine or redwood frame.
"It's crazy to think this was the cutting edge of surfboard design and construction 90 years ago," Cossart says, "but it seriously works in its own special way and is so fun to ride."
The footage of him surfing in Baja and at home backs up his thinking. While he is a talented surfer, his finless gliding on these surfing time machines looks effortless. Perhaps the only drawback though is the amount of interest that his creations induce each surf.
"I have to be ready to talk to people when I go to the beach," he explains. "Just walking from the car to the surf I'll end up talking to three different people describing what it is."