Where physics meet mystic.
Where science meets art.
Where speed meets control.
A 50 year tapestry woven from uncompromising craftsmanship and pioneering new world materials,
Outer Island Surfboards have quietly blazed a trail.
Mitchell Rae may state his occupation as a ‘surfboard shaper’ on those forms at the airport, but his iconic boards with distinctive ‘spirit eyes’ are so much more than just foam and fiberglass. It should also read ‘artist’, ‘sculptor’, ‘scientist’, ‘designer’, ‘diviner’ and many other strings to his craftsman’s bow. (Tracks magazine)
Mitchell Rae was born in ’55 at Dee Why beach which was the epicentre of Australian surfing in the 60’s, frequented by the likes of Midget Farrelly, Nat Young and Bob McTavish. Just over the hill at Brookvale was the home of the Australian surfboard building industry with iconic labels of the era like Barry Bennett, Scott Dillon, Bill Wallace and Gordon Woods all pushing each other. Surrounded by this hotbed of talent, Mitchell became one of the better surfers of his generation. He shaped and built his first board in his friends shed at age 12.
Teaming up with board makers Glenn Ritchie and David Chidgey, they formed Outer Island Surfboards in 1969. They built their radical, innovative designs at iconic surf rock band Taman Shud’s house overlooking Pittwater at Newport before moving into Midget Farrelly’s old shed at Gow’s Boatshed in Palm Beach on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. As factory grom, he was the everything kid. He glued stringers into blanks, glassed, sanded and polished all the boards while shaping a few as well. The Outer Island crew were building deep single concaves with down rails and hard edges in the late 60’s when most boards had rolled bottoms, elliptical rails and S decks. Abandoning the contest scene, Mitchell was the test pilot for these revolutionary deep concave, hard railed designs. From these beginnings over fifty years ago, Mitchell has continued to pursue and refine many of those early design directions, developing single to double, triple and various concave configurations that have become high performance staples that shapers utilise all over the world today.
First travelling to Bali in ’72, the year of Morning of the Earth, Mitchell was amongst the early pioneers of Indonesia, travelling and surfing extensively through the outer islands. This was the perfect environment to test his designs with a focus on maximising speed without compromising response.
Mitchell started applying the distinctive “Spirit Eyes” to the nose of his boards after he first visited Bali in 1972, and saw eyes on the bows of local fishing boats. Inspired by the concept Mitchell designed the trademark eyes which have become synonymous with his boards.
Balinese folklore instilled the belief that the ocean was full of evil spirits, so the local fishermen, the majority of whom couldn’t swim, felt the eyes on the front of their canoes protected them from the spirits and animated the ‘jukung’, bringing it to life. Rae called them Spirit Eyes because he believes the elevate your board beyond the realm of foam and fibreglass.”
He was amongst the first wave of surfers to migrate to the North Coast in the early ’70’s.
Later, he travelled to Hawaii, honing his skills in shaping mini guns and guns.
Inspired by George Greenough’s flexible spoons, Mitchell embarked on a 50 year exploration of flex.
He has pioneered design and construction techniques in his flex tails, using composite construction utilising carbon fibre, hi end resins and EVA flexible foam materials.
“The Flex Tail gives a variable curve, which carves a tighter arc as you apply more pressure through the turn. Like a dolphin’s tail, it generates propulsion, drive and acceleration out of the turns. It's like riding a flexible blade”
Mitchell Rae has shaped for many of the world’s great surfers… Luke Egan, Tom Carrol, Rasta, Parko, Drew Courtney, Derek Hynd and Kai Otton to name a few.
One of Mitchell’s passions is building balsa boards, each year he creates very small numbers of masterpieces for a select clientele, finishing them with mother of pearl logos and inlays.
A national award winning artist, he also likes to draw, paint and play guitar for pleasure and relaxation.
Mitchell now resides on the mid North Coast of NSW building small numbers of exquisite custom boards for an international clientele.
Mitchell Rae first applied the distinctive eyes to the nose of his boards after visiting Bali in1972, where he saw eyes on the bow of the local fishing boats. Inspired by the concept he designed the trademark eyes which feature extensively on his boards.
Balinese folklore instilled the belief that the sea was the realm of demons and dark spirits. The majority of local fisherman couldn't swim, and felt that the eyes helped protect them from evil spirits. The Spirit Eyes , as they are known, do the same for the boards, giving them a bit of life, and elevating them from the realm of foam and fibreglass . Outer Island surfboards can be found in many remote regions of the surfing world. You can seek adventure in exotic places, explore the Outer Islands and encounter boards with Spirit Eyes.
'Morning of the Earth 'creator , Albe Falzon jokes … 'I dont invest in real estate' , 'I collect Outer Island Surfboards'.