You might not know he is but Jason Standley is a true visionary of our sport and one of the most impactful people the industry has ever seen. For nearly three decades he has designed and built many of the most popular boards of all-time. Creating well over 1,000 board prototypes and many firsts during that span, Jason is always looking to innovate and improve board design. For the last ten plus years, he has been the man behind the scenes at Ronix doing all their board design.
During his time at Ronix he has shaped many wakesurf boards that have been the first of their kind and progressed the sport. 2018 is shaping up to be the biggest year thus far for Ronix's wakesurf division. 17 shapes (9 new for 2018)!
For this installment of 'WakeMAKERS Shaper's Insights' we headed up to Radar Lake to see where Jason shapes all the wakesurf boards and sit down with him to discuss the 2018 Ronix wakesurf lineup.
Can you introduce yourself and share your industry background?
Hey, I'm Jason Stanley, I work for Ronix Wakeboards, and I've been in the industry for about 26 years. I've worked at HO Sports and Hyperlite with all the same guys I work with now. I am 47 years old and I've designed a lot of different wakeboards, wake surfers, and done a lot of different projects in the last 26 years.
Leads us to our next question. How many boards do you think you've designed over the years?
I'll have to guess but it seems like at Ronix I'm doing probably about three to five a year, and I've been here for 12 years now. Back at Hyperlite, it was maybe close to the same, about three new boards a year, and I worked there for about 15 years. So if you do the math that's a lot of different boards, maybe 300 or something.
What are some of the most noteworthy boards that you've designed over the years?
I'm going to have to go back to Danny Harf and his first board, the Hyperlite Premier. The Ronix Ibex that Parks Bonifay had. Of course the Ronix One, which is probably one of my personal favorite boards.
For most wakesurf boards how many versions do you build before the final version that goes to market?
Sometimes two, sometimes 12. It kind of just varies. But I'd say the minimum I've ever done is maybe two prototypes. And then on the other end I've gone all the way up to twelve-ish prototypes to get the ride to where we want it.
We are here at Radar Lake where you shape and build all the boards. What is it like to have these facilities here at your disposal to innovate and design new shapes?
It helps tremendously. Everybody at Square One and Ronix backs me no matter what it is, whether it be me trying a new composite material, me buying new machinery, or having Tim around to bounce ideas off each other. Someone has an idea and we we bounce it back and forth, it all just gets started from there. It makes it a really smooth process to do what I do.
And now having Lake Ronix in Florida, that is a huge asset. We can go down and test everything in the winter time, that way we're that much further ahead with board design. We're already all the way done with 2019 right now.
Let's talk about what's new for 2018. How did the Naked Potbelly Series come about?
I had an idea to do a urethane stringer down the center. I actually just threw it into a core and randomly shaped a shape that I thought was cool, just something new. It was thicker in the front of the tip right in front of your foot instead of back behind your back foot. Then we took it down to Lake Ronix. Chad Sharpe and those guys loved it. He still has the original prototype because he loved the shape so much. I then brought it back here, revised it a little bit, took that prototype back to Florida for them to ride. Everyone down there loved it and now it's in our lineup for 2018.
If someone's looking at getting a Ronix Naked Series board, how do you choose between the two?
If you're more of a skim or hybrid style guy, I would go with the rocket. It's really fast and really agile. Goes edge to edge really, really fast. The cruiser is for the more surf style guy, it's really good at doing big bottom turns, going way out to the flats.
The Power Fish is another new popular shape for 2018. How did this board get started?
Talking to Paul one day a sales rep or somebody called him up and said, "you know, everybody loves the Power Tail. It's going over so good. We want the Powertail with the amount of push, but we want the board to sit a little deeper on turns."
I started brainstorming and thought why don't we put an actual fish shape into the tail so that way it drives down a little bit deeper in the turns and that's how the Powerfish came about.
The 2018 wakesurf boards are built differently for added durability. Can you touch on that?
In the past we had surfers being warrantied because they were getting too hot from being in cars, etc. In certain situations, boards can get up to over 200 degrees. We just decided it's time to avoid those warranties however we can.
This year we put vent plugs in the boards and then we went to a higher-temp resin. Our old resin only went to roughly about 200 degrees. The new high-temp resin goes up to 280 degrees, which we should never, ever hit in any weather.
We’re focused on fun when choosing our favorite boards. How do you focus on fun when designing boards?
I just think about what everybody's going to enjoy. When we're in the boat, I just think, "let's make something cool that will get everybody excited." Bringing a new shape onto the boat, whether it's the shape, a new core, fin, etc. I just want everybody in the boat to be stoked and be happy. The best is when others say to me, "okay, this board is something new and fun. I can't believe how much better it is than what I ride." I just like to see the smiles on everybody's face when they are having fun. And when somebody doesn't have fun on a prototype... it doesn't really bother me at all. I just go back to the drawing board. I change it, make it better, and keep working until everyone enjoys it.
Many wakesurfers are now buying from boutique brands and local shapers. Can you explain how Ronix puts the same love and precision into building their wakesurf boards?
We take the same approach as everybody else. We might be on a little bit bigger scale but we put all the same love and hard work shaping every board by hand. I feel like I'm kinda on the back-end of things, not many people know who I am or see me up front in the limelight or whatever like most other shapers. We put just as much love and work as anybody else into it, it's just on a different scale.
Wakesurfing board design keeps progressing quickly. What does the future look like?
Being here in the Northwest there are so many opportunities to bring different composites from the aerospace industry to the boating industry. I have people coming by showing me different core materials, different carbons, different innegras, different fiberglass blends. I feel like in the future wakesurf boards will continue to g letighter, stronger, faster, and it's going to go a long way in how the boards ride.
Say you're going out on the boat this summer and can only bring one board. Which one are you bringing?