– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

Custom in a day

One of the unique aspects of surfing versus nearly any other sport is the fact of the availability of getting a custom made board. Other sports such as skating, snowboarding, even things like golf and baseball use off the shelf equipment for all but the very elite professionals. With surfing, it’s just a matter of finding a local shaper and putting in your custom order for the wheels to start turning on your very own fine-tuned wave riding instrument. Earlier this year we read a post on Surftwin’s blog about a unique experience she had in ordering a custom board and having it made from start to finish in one day. She was kind enough to share her experience with us and provide photos of the whole process which you can see in a slideshow below. There is something truly special about this process and the place it holds in the surfing culture, here’s her take on the experience…

I first met Neftali Espino two years ago surfing a little reef north of Santa Cruz.  I remember there being a really good vibe in the water that day.  A handful of us out…I struck up a conversation with him in the water and discovered that he was a shaper without a shack.  He was interested in hearing about Oregon and kept telling me he was willing to travel & accommodate whatever customizations I (or anyone) might want.  At the time, I wasn’t in the market for a new board…but I was definitely intrigued.  He scribbled his name & number on a piece of paper I had handy then shoved it into the glove box.  I’ve carried that piece of paper in my car for the last two years.  Just in case…

Homegrown Shack

Had a few trips down since that initial meeting…and without fail we run into Nef.  Only this trip, he finally had his own shack…

I still wasn’t in the market for a new board….considering I had just picked up a custom Tyler noserider barely a month prior to this last trip.  Nef talks a good game though.  I stood checking out his board work….before I knew it Gaz was giving Nef dims and there was discussion of shaping me a board.  A 6’4” moontail twin fin….dubbed “The Hemorrhoid”.

I think it was the pitch line of “One Day Board” that hooked me.  Maybe I didn’t believe he could shape & glass a board in one day…?  I’m still not sure how I ended up with a new board.

He said he could do it….I said go.

Made on Monday. Surfed on Tuesday.

Blank to glassed board in 8 hours…(including the mandatory beer & bowl breaks).

I once had the opportunity to watch Cort Gion shape a board. A master craftsman…Cort was all business. Nef was totally different. Not only was this board being shaped for me….he took every opportunity to stop and talk me through the process and questions & critiques were wholly welcome.

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14 Responses »

  1. OK< that is NUTZ!—nothing like seeing a craftsman do his ‘thing’ and the board loks like it will really ride…..and some folks take a year to do a board custom, go figure……enjoy that one!!!!!

  2. So insane. Great story. Remember seeing that on her site and it stoked me out so much. Love it.

  3. The montage looks great!

    Nef would be stoked to see this. ….a true craftsman.

    Transitioning from a long board (nine…plus)….to a “shorty”…..this board has been perfect for me.

  4. Any surfer who has not ordered a board like this and hung out with their shaper and watched at least part of the process is really missing out on an important part of the surfing experience. I had the pleasure of “working with” Terry Senate on a board a few years back. It included a few beers and him handing me the blank numerous times as he asked, “how’s that feel?” That board turned out to be exactly what I asked for and more – so cool to see the knowledge in a good shaper’s head and soul.

  5. It took me nearly two decades to discover the stoke that a local made custom board can provide! Because of this I’m hooked on surfing all over again and am trying new designs all the time.
    Where I live (Canada)….surfing would be alot different if more people discovered how awesome this is for your surfing and your soul…..

  6. What a great article! I can honestly say I have never had a board custom made for myself. I’ve always bought them new off the rack or used. Looks like I’m going to have to remedy that!
    Are there a lot of shapers who will allow you to be a part of the shaping process like this? Or is this pretty atypical?

  7. Thanks for all the comments. This is a really cool piece and I wanna say a special thanks to Nance for sending it along.

    Shaun, I think most shapers would be cool to let you in on the process. Many guys don’t glass their own boards and instead send them to another factory to have the blanks glassed. If you search I’m sure you could get a similar experience to this story.

  8. Nef is a great guy, we had a blast that day as the board came together. If you’re in the Santa Cruz area, head north to Davenport and get a little of the Homegrown flavor. It’s funky old school in a way few surf experiences are!

  9. What, No Color?

  10. That’z our Son!!! Thanks to all that got this story out…. If you like we can send you a short video of Nef shaping a redwood drift-wood log into a tow-in board, also a ” One Day Board.” His “shack” is next to “The Bakery” in Davenport. Thanks Again!

  11. That’s my childhood Bro just doing what he’s always wanted to do. He’s the real deal, and one like so few these days does it for the stoke and soul of surfing. We live far apart these days but on occassion meet for a surf now and then (south of the boarder). I’ve seen his boards progress and mature into a true craftmanship series, so if your in the area a drive to Davenport would be worth it. talk to later neff…

  12. That’s my little brother…

    Thanks for putting out this story on him and his boards… I’ve watched him set goals and continue to reach them. Its cool to see how many people know about this boards and know him. If you every are in the Santa Cruz, Davenport area, please stop by and see him…he welcomes everyone with a big smile and you can take a look at his work. We love ya….Rob, Lor, Tyler & Jordan…

  13. hey this is my uncle
    this man is dope at making surfboards.
    a lot of ppl love his boards.
    he never gives up and always try’s to prove everyone wrong and well
    he is now :]
    i love ya uncle nef.
    your effin dope. <33

  14. Wow – I have known Nef since we were probably seven or eight- He has always been a cool guy and very talented . (and cute) :) I am so thrilled to see this –

    Oh my god – I always knew you would end up doing this. And the art on THE door of the surf board shack wow how that brings back memories- every letter you use to write me -you would have some awesome drawing attached. There is one thing you showed everyone -dreams do happen – GOOD luck to you .
    I am so truly happy for you that you ended up being true to yourself and doing what you love !!!