THE BRAND – SPARROW SURFBOARDS
The Sparrow label has become synonymous with high quality, locally made, high performance boards at an affordable price. Shaper Adam “Sparrow” Fletcher has worked with and learnt from some of the best shapers in the business, Darren Handley, Jason Stevenson, Simon Anderson, Murray Bourton, to develop his own signature style of highly refined boards. By eliminating the big overheads of a large stable of team riders and marketing budgets, Sparrow is able to offer a premium product at a reasonable price. As an elite junior competitor brought up on the southern Gold Coast, with good mates Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson, Sparrow’s designs have been developed in the ultimate testing ground of Coolangatta’s renowned point breaks, and the A-frame fun park of Duranbah, where speed, flow and responsiveness are critical. Sparrow surfboards suit intermediate to advanced surfers looking to progress their surfing in a wide range of conditions.
THE SHAPER - ADAM “SPARROW” FLETCHER ( words by Tim Baker. )
If you were to design the ideal pedigree for a surfboard shaper it would look a lot like Adam “Sparrow” Fletcher’s CV. Up and coming competitive grommet and running mate with the celebrated Cooly Kids, Mick Fanning and Joel Parkinson in the ‘90s. Apprentice and factory grom for shapers to the stars Darren Handley and Jason Stevenson in the early 2000s, Sparrow was soon developing his own shapes, brand and following among the better young surfers around Coolangatta.
“Sean Fanning was my best mate, and we grew up at Mick’s house. We called ourselves CK7 (Cooly Kids 7). We just surfed all day, all the boards got left up at Mick’s,” says Sparrow, of those halcyon grommet days.
But tragedy struck when Mick’s older brother Sean and his friend Joel Green were killed in a car accident, forcing the Cooly Kids to grow up fast. “We went through the tragic thing of Sean’s death, which really makes you think about what you want to be doing with your life,” says Sparrow. “I was getting free boards. Darren used to pay my entry fees, and help with sponsors, and making my boards but the results didn’t come. The best I got was a quarter final and it became apparent I needed to get a job. I was a year older than Mick and Parko and got thrown straight into the work force. Darren gave me a job and it kind of exploded from there.”
At the time, a Japanese distributor was looking for a young up and coming shaper to produce high performance boards at an affordable price point and Sparrow was in the right place at the right time to seize the opportunity and the Sparrow brand was born. When Darren Handley joined a collective of Australia’s top shapers at BASE, Sparrow went along for the ride, working with the likes of Simon Anderson and Murray Bourton, in one of the most sophisticated surfboard operations in the country.
Next, Sparrow took up a position with SuperBrand as the global head of their Shaper’s Collective, leading a design collaboration between top shapers from around the world. With surfers like Clay Marzo and Dion Agius riding their boards, the high-performance focus continued.
After ten years with DHD and 10 years with Super, Sparrow was ready to step out on his own, relaunching the Sparrow brand back where it all began in the industrial area behind the famed Kirra Point. Now catering for a new generation of elite, competitive groms, and super keen recreational surfers of every vintage, Sparrow is enjoying getting back to basics with a tight operation entirely focussed on customer satisfaction without all the distractions of a larger business.
“I’m trying to keep it simple. I don’t have a big team and all the associated costs.
I want to offer JS and DHD style boards at a reasonable price, because I have the training and I don’t have the overheads,” says Sparrow. “I know once they’re under people’s feet there won’t be an issue.”
Sparrow’s shaping boards for ‘QS up and comer Callum Robson, and his old mates the Harrington Twins, Shaun and Dean, of Mad Hueys fame, but has no plans to expand the team, preferring to work closely with a small number of surfers.
Helping Callum achieve his dream of getting on the WSL world tour is a clear goal and the pair have developed a close surfer/shaper rapport. “He wants that long term, Mick Fanning/Darren Handley style relationship. He’s coaching with Bede Durbidge, doing all the right things – nutrition, health, psychology, everything. I’ll do everything I can to get him there.”
For now, Sparrow is keeping the operation tight, aiming for quality and service over numbers, and taking pleasure in his craft. “Thirty a week is a good number. I’m not 18 anymore. I just want to enjoy what I do,” he says.