– stripping surfing back down to its most elemental form

Why go to your local shaper: #17

BMX stylieI am generally not a gear head. But I am passionate about the hobbies that dominate much of my time; cycling and surfing. I remember my first wheeled toy clearly. I was probably about 4 or 5 years old and I got a red and white tricycle for Christmas. Later my brother and I would coble together BMX bikes with rear derailleurs for charging the dirt roads around our little Andean town. When we moved to the states the bike world opened up, as do all sorts of opportunities. I spent all day on my BMX, building trails and jumps and thrashing around town looking for lines to flow and fly.

As an adult I started to pay a bit more attention to bicycle design. Eventually, I learned that bike fit was the key to maximizing my performance and allow me to spend more hours in the saddle. If you to go any self respecting bike shop these days they will take the time to measure your body and ensure that you get a bike that fits you and your cycling needs. Try to get this service at a surf shop lately?

Surfing TrendsSurfboards go through interesting fashion changes. When I began surfing in Florida the thinly foiled potato chip boards were the rule. Everyone was riding boards between 6’2” and 6’4” and 2.25” thick — or thinner even. Of course that’s what the pros ride. And it’s what the glossy surf rags tell us to ride. But consider that most pros probably weigh under 160 pounds. Also consider that the top surfers are also world class athletes who train, eat well, stretch and spend more hours a week in the water that most of us do in months.

Surfboard fit is not a mystery. I recently got a new board shaped. I called my shaper and talked to him briefly about what kind of surfing I wanted to do. I was interested in catching waves and having speed above maneuverability. I wanted to focus more on making sections and catching waves than top to bottom surfing. He suggested a plan shape. Next I told him how much I weighed (and I was honest) and that most of the year I wear a 6mm suit with 7mm mitts and booties. I sent my down payment and the shaping began.

Fatty 6'4When I finally got to put my hands on the new board I was a bit worried. The thing looked bloated and big. You see, I too am swayed by the media and surfing fashion. But knowing better, I waited to make my judgment until after I’d given her a go. My father has a theory about trying new things; you can’t say that you don’t like something until you’ve tried it at least ten times. The first few sessions were weird. The next few were better. Now, I am surfing better than I ever have and have the confidence for late take-offs and know that I’ll be able to make the big bottom turn around the section and get to the face, pump twice and fly -just like I had imagined.

There are many reasons why you should support your local shaper, and they are not all ethical or environmental or even nostalgic. You should get your boards custom made because you will surf better and have more fun.

• Category: board construction, environment,

2 Responses »

  1. Preach brother, preach! A great write up and I’ll be sure to apply your father wisdom once my new board shows up.
    Keep up the good work boys.

  2. Excellent points. Another thing to consider is getting a local custom surfboard shape really is good value. Try getting a custom made bike frame for only a little bit more than a stock Taiwanese frame. Most of your local shapers, really are not getting paid what they are worth…