A bootlegged version of Cj’s Sprout segment from Thomas Campbell’s film.
The legacy of this board runs deep in CJ’s life, the lives of CJ’s supporters and the traditional longboard community as a whole. The original concept of this board was to combine elements of two of CJ’s all time favorite vintage longboards out of his dad’s collection. Blending the best features of two of the most important longboards in the history of the sport took CJ on a journey of nearly 20 years and roughly 500 boards. Testing and tweaking in search of the perfect traditional noserider.
Over the years these boards were simply known as the “CJ Nelson model” and were shaped by some of the most well-respected longboard shapers in the world. The CJ Nelson model built a cult like following taking nearly everyone who competed on one to multiple contest victories building crews of guys from around the world who would ride nothing else. CJ became known as the kid from Santa Cruz that was re-defining the art of noseriding and blew minds in video segments time and time again on his signature model.
2007 rolled around and CJ got the call up from film maker Thomas Cambell about working on his upcoming project called the “Sprout”. Thomas mentioned that he wanted to film on the fabled points of southern Baja and the trip was on. It was a dream come true to work with Thomas who was bringing awareness to log riding and alternative surf craft in general. CJ knew that he had to surf better than he ever had and it was time to design the best board he ever had. He got with good friend and shaper Dane Purlee to take elements from all his favorite boards over the years to make the ultimate point break noserider and that’s exactly what they created. CJ’s performance on his bubble gum pink noserider became even more famous than his beloved model and put CJ on the map as arguably the most progressive noserider of all time. Thomas Campbell’s film the “Sprout” toured with great success and is known as one of the most important films of CJ’s generation.
Fast forward ten years to where CJ is now. CJ had expanded his range and style of surfing, searching for inspiration and diversity in the radical Involvement style longboards the young Australians were riding in the late 60s. Exposure to these boards and studying the masters that rode them to dominance decades ago changed CJ’s surfing for the better making him a much more complete log rider. Although CJ was 100% stoked and surfing at the top of his game, The thing CJ constantly kept hearing was “hey, do you think you can make me one of your old noseriders?” Being a bit of a collector, CJ had kept some of his most important personal boards along with roughly 250 order forms from what he thought was his all time favorite boards.
The first poly prototype that Ryan Engle Shaped. Christmas 2015.
Around Christmas of 2015, CJ pulled “Old Faithful” out from under the house and made the trek to San Diego from Santa Cruz to meet up with long time friend and “CJ Nelson model” enthusiast Ryan Engle to discuss building one. Ryan had been working with Christian Walch recreating a version for Christians company (Canvas surfboards) called the Purchase. Christian had won the Noosa surf festival noseriding division a staggering 4 times on a Cj Nelson model and loved the feeling of that style log. Cj and Ryan talked memories and quickly got to it with measuring and scanning the shape 3D tweaking to hit all the numbers coming out with an exact replica of the original board from Thomas Campbells “Sprout.”
The finished re-designed first “Sprout” CJ tested and approved for production.
After a full year of testing and tweaking, the finished product. 10′ eps “Sprout”.
CJ was delighted with the looks and the under arm feel and surfed it all over Southern California the majority of the 2016 summer. The board was magical and exactly what he remembered although CJ knew the final test would have to be in deep Baja at the fabled points he rode in Thomas Campbell’s film. CJ set out with a crew of friends late summer 2016 to put the Board he started calling “the Sprout” through the ultimate test. By all accounts, CJ did the most technical noseriding of his life nearly 10 years after his performance in Thomas’ film. His experience on that trip solidified his new but old creation as the resurrection of arguably the best noseriding surfboard of all time. CJ, the CJ Nelson designs team and shaper Ryan Engle proudly introduce, The Sprout…the ultimate performance noserider.
CJ reunited with the board that put him on the map. Mainland Mexico 2017. Photo: James Tull