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Time Well Spent... On The Waves

MR PORTER and IWC Schaffhausen follow Mr Hayden Cox, surfboard shaper extraordinaire, as he finds a moment of calm and solitude amid the waves

Just for a moment, Mr Hayden Cox has trouble remembering his age. “I think I’m 37 now?” he asks himself. “I was born in 1982.” (That makes him 36.) It’s easy to forgive him this moment of forgetfulness. After all, he’s got the looks of a man 10 years younger and the CV of a man 10 years older.

A self-taught board shaper of more than two decades’ experience, Mr Cox started his company, Haydenshapes, when he was just 15 years old. He completed his first board as part of a work experience project while he was still at school and things “grew organically” from there.

“I never started out thinking, I wanna create a surfboard company,” he explains. “I shaped my first board, then a few months later I shaped another one for my best mate. For the next one, I figured I’d need a logo. That’s when I came up with Haydenshapes. It came to me while I was at a party.”

One of five children, Mr Cox was taught from a young age to be resourceful and self-sufficient, traits he now recognises as having been vital to his success. “If we ever wanted something, we were told to go out and create it,” he says.

This can-do attitude served him well when he was making his first attempts to print the Haydenshapes logo onto a surfboard. “Back then, it was $50 for a screen and a minimum print run of $200,” he recalls. “I’m thinking, I can’t afford that. I’ve got $350 to build the whole board.”

Faced with the prospect of blowing more than half his budget for a simple logo, he decided to use his initiative instead. By running tissue paper through his parents’ inkjet printer, he was able to produce his own prints at a fraction of the price.

Haydenshapes is a somewhat more professional outfit these days, but Mr Cox still takes the same, hands-on approach whenever he’s at the company’s headquarters and showroom in Mona Vale, a laid-back suburb on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. “I refer to myself as a bit of a generalist,” he says. “I love to get involved, to learn about everything we do in the business.”

And when he’s not at Haydenshapes HQ, there’s every chance he’s putting his products to the test in the waves barrelling and breaking onto the shore at Whale Beach, just 10 km north of Mona Vale. “That’s where a lot of my surfing feedback and design ideas really come to life,” he says. “It’s the moment when things come full circle and I begin to see the outcome of my time in the workshop.”

These early mornings spent in the surf aren’t just in the interests of research, though. They’re also a time for Mr Cox to relax and find a rare moment of solitude – a moment just for himself. “I’ve got a one-year-old daughter now,” he says. “That’s been an amazing change. I’m loving being a dad. But she’s finally waking up a little later, so I’ve got that first part of the day back. I’m a pretty solid morning person.”

These moments form the focus of Time Well Spent, a film series created by MR PORTER in partnership with IWC Schaffhausen. For the latest instalment, we flew out to Sydney, set our alarms very early indeed and accompanied Mr Cox as he set off for his morning surf.

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