After months of searching, Mick Fanning has named the winner of the first WSL x MF Softboards Global Shaper Challenge. After whittling the field down to six world-class surfboard shapers, it was Japanese-born Mitsunori Kumagai's "Kuma Fish" that took top honors.

Launched last May, the MF Softboards Global Shaper Challenge invited shapers and designers from around the world to submit a CNC file featuring a softboard design concept. The goal of the challenge was to support and raise awareness of the talented creatives who are the heart and soul of the sport of surfing as part of the WSL's #StayLocal campaign. Kumagai's shape, chosen by three-time World Champ Mick Fanning, will now be included in the 2021 MF Softboards lineup.

Watch Mick Fanning Test The Finalists' Boards
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Three-time World Champion Mick Fanning tests the boards of the six finalists in the MF Softboards Global Shaper Challenge.

Kumagai was born in Japan and moved to Australia in 2005 to pursue his passion for shaping boards. He shaped his first board in a garage before moving on to work under the tutelage of master craftsman Darren Handley at his DHD factory. Kumagai now builds surfboards under the Kuma Surfboards label.

"This board is incredibly fast and finds hidden pockets of speed on waves," explains Kumagai about his winning design. "The flat deck increases the volume to help catch waves and provide more speed in poor conditions. A slight forward placed concave bottom with a deep exit vee that increases the tail rocker."

The response from the shaping community was overwhelming as submissions poured in from around the world. The other five finalists included Pukas shaper Axel Lorentz, Duke Aipa of Aipa Surf, Kamalei Alexander of Modern Hawaiian Collective, as well as models from ACSOD Surfboards and Ceviche Surf Co.

Mick Fanning Softboards From left to right, the boards by Mitsunori Kumagai, Gerardo Candelaria Perez, Axel Lorentz, Alex Crews, Kamalei Woolsey Alexander and Duke Aipa - WSL

For his part in the project, Fanning had the opportunity to test ride all of the boards and review their individual merits. In the end it was the Kuma Fish that got him the most stoked. He loved the all-round holy-trinity of speed, power and flow available with the design, which will now be included in the 2021 MF Softboards range with stock available globally from Feb 2021.

That means you could be riding a Kuma Fish very soon!

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