I thought I was a surfer but it took a group of ladies to point out that really…I am a walker.
A few years ago some ladies were in my studio for my shaping demonstration at Witch’s Rock Surf Camp. One of them asked me, “Robert how many miles do you walk when shaping a board?” I of course had no idea.
A week later they came back with a pedometer. Turns out they organized walking charity events and asked me if I would wear it while shaping. At the end of shaping just one board, I had walked over 2.5 miles. It made me think, and I started to calculate, over the past fifty years of shaping and documenting the boards, I have shaped over forty-one thousand boards. So with the above number, it works out to about 102,500 miles. That is over four times around the world at the equator. I’m kind of a skinny guy, so my take on this is, if your shaper is an overweight guy he probably hasn’t shaped many boards.
If you want a custom board from me, the process begins in my office or maybe at the bar… hopefully at a table with an ocean view. I meet with the client and fill out the paperwork and start writing down the numbers. I ask what they like and how they surf. I’m try to get them the best design for their surfing ability, so they can just go have fun and be stoked!
A surfer generally wants something that is super fast and responsive. But these two concepts work against each other. Therein lies the art of shaping. I like to make a flexible board that achieves a level of speed with maneuverability. So when I’m speaking to the client, and learn the conditions he/she plans to use the board in, that’s how we decide what the board will ultimately become.