An Ode to the Shaper

Words: David Campbell 

There’s no questioning surfing was bought and sold along time ago, kids these days don’t even give a shit what a “sell out” is. Just watch any youths instagram, or youtube channel that has followers in the millions; they whore themselves out for a nike sticker. The gripes mainly come from the old folk crowd about the big money in surfing, the loss of soul, well that argument has become a bit redundant. Just remember anytime you go to a Hurley Pro, or any contest sponsored by one of the big companies, it’s whole purpose is to sell to the populus mass and not the core group of surfers that most real surfers fit into. The TJ Max’s, the malls, it’s all about selling an image, and we have known this for quite some time.

Instead this will be a call for change, our new personal Oceanic Manifest Destiny for innovation and a step away from the corporate gimmicks…. Or maybe just another fucking gripe about the pitiful state of regurgitated cycles of surfing being in the business of being “cool”.

Every end of winter we see what the spring/summer fashions of the new year are gonna be shoved down our throats. Although every big company in surfing seems to be hurting, they’re still capable to create some kind of half assed look to a generic past. If you notice in the last couple decades there hasn’t been anything new in the style of our current generations. We are back in the 90’s at the moment and Andy Warhol is somehow cool again? Gimme a break.  

Surfboard design sometimes falls into this same vortex when it comes to the bigwigs of design. How about get yourself the new and improved twin fin? Or how about the Channel Islands Bonzer? Channels are back too, do we know why? MIck won at J-bay on one, Kelly’s new board has them. Why did we stop using them in the first place?

One thing that doesn’t seem to be on this same lame path is the new materials that we are seeing. From Arctic’s long-awaited promise of algae foam to Varial, and now both Millennium and Arctic stock closed-cell EPS to rival Marko’s; we now have too many high quality epoxy resins to choose from. Now seems like every big shaper has their own “patented” combination of x-glass or s-glass or double-bias/pu or eps/special rail tapes. Sure some of this is just marketing, but design innovation in the making of surfboards seems to be thriving in certain corners, and that’s actually what matters most.

This is where the surf industry is the most awesome. At the Sacred Craft shows, in the shaping bays behind just regular dudes house. Not in a mall, not on the promenade. But creating the crafts with which we love is where the sport of surfing shows it’s true strength. Take all the bullshit that the industry crams down your throat, all the ads, the gambit of selling sex to teenagers, and the constant emitting of selling something cool, at the end of the day a sport like surfing can survive all that because at it’s true core it’s that powerful. The ride and the waves are that much fun, it makes all that other stuff not really matter, and that’s what matters most.

To all the innovators that are thinking outside of the box, ignoring the ads, trying new shapes, new fin set ups, and tinkering with materials this is an appreciation to you. Keep up the good fight.

 

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Comments

Lon

Lon said:

David,
This is spot on. Now, if we can just teach kids ettiquette, we will be okay.

Tom Neilson

Tom Neilson said:

Great ride up and good motivation to keep having fun being innovative and create what works for you and the folks you shape boards for on a regular basis. The channels and such are good in good surf but the little tweaks to volume, thickness flow, foam eps or poly density and bottom contours are less obvious and just as critical.

Roberts Surfboards

Roberts Surfboards said:

All good points! The best way to keep our industry alive and well is to keep pushing for better products. I said this over seven years ago in a Surfing magazine artical. The question was what is the next big thing in surfboard design. I said shapes will change slightly but the biggest change will be the material’s we use. At that time I was experimenting with my RFT construction and already getting some good results. Now everyone is doing some sort of flexible Epoxy build. It’s cool to see my hunch coming to fruition. This is what keeps surfing evolving and it’s exciting to see where surfboards are heading.

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