Subscribe to feed

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: August 5th, 2008 | Comments: (0)
Bookmark this at |

Guest Post by Oliver Irwin

Most people who surf have a friend of a friend who knows someone who has heard of a guy who is a shaper. Weather they are a casual tinkerer who does a couple boards in their garage or professional shaper who makes boards day in and day out, in my experience, it has been pretty easy to cell them up and find out what they’re about and what they think the next board you should get should be. It is my dream to find a shaper who I can go out and surf with, who understands my ability and has the foresight to think about what would work well for me, who would also give me free boards, dinner,chicks and financial advice. I haven’t found that dream, but getting somewhere close to it is worth fighting for.

Eric Streufert is the guy who I have found works really well with me. He works for Patagonia and shapes boards everyday. He is lucky enough that Patagonia allows him to use their shop to produce boards in their shop on his personal time. His line is appropriately called S-Turn. Everyone I know who has ridden one of his boards has been totally satisfied with the quality and craftsmanship including me. Eric listens to me carefully and always gives me insightful feedback that refines what I am want in a board. I also enjoy hearing what he has to say about what hes doing in the world of shaping.

The following is an edited transcript of an interview I had with Eric in February 2008.

What kinda boards are you making now?

Fishes are the hottest selling board right now. They work really well at Pipe in Ventura. There’s two different kinds of fishes I’m making. The hybrid fish I make is a modern twin fin with a small trailer fin. This board is more high performance than the other type of fish I’ve been making – which is basically a stand up knee board with a big fat swallowtail. This is a more retro board with at least 7″ base twin fins on it. It’s really fast down the line and you get big long arcing cutbacks. You ride them really short too, basically like if you ride a 6’2″ shortboard, the fish you would ride would be about 5’6″ to 5’8″. For a hybrid fish go up another inch.

Dimensions go from about 20.5 inches wide and 2.5 thick —older guys up Ill make the boards up to 6’6″ and 2 ¾ to 3 inches for the big fat dudes.

What do you do at Patagonia?

Technically I’m a sander in the glassing manufacturing part. But I’m familiar with all the steps of building boards.

Are the boards you’re making similar to the boards you make at Patagonia?

The practice is different, they use epoxy with a closed cell EPS board. My boards are built with regular foam and covered with epoxy resin. I glass the boards differently. I find that the flex in the regular kind of foam is better. It’s also easier to shape. Plus if you get a ding with a closed cell eps board you have to fix it immediately, and if you fix it with anything but epoxy, it will ruin the board and dissolve the foam. Glassing epoxy over normal foam has the advantage that you can patch a ding with poly or epoxy and you will still maintain the integrity of the board.

How many boards are you making for S-Turn?

I generally make about 2-4 boards a month just taking orders out of the water at California Street. I have a good niche market down at the point. I also make shortboads, funshapes and longboards.

Can you talk about shortboard vs fish?

Fishes are good all around board, great at point breaks, but shortboards are good for good waves. Waves which have power or whatnot. That kneeboard Im making — people think they’d be too loose, but they’re actually more drivey and won’t spin out the way you might think they would.

When the surf gets softer — get into the shorter fishy boards. The shorter your board, the easier it is to fit your board into a smaller faced wave.

How about riding a fish in bigger more powerful surf?

I like it Ive done it. It’s challenging. It’s a really fast free feeling. You’re just flying. But with a fish its more challenging catching waves, and holding into your bottom rail. With a fish you’ve gotta be right under it and have better wave knowledge. A longer board can glide and you might get a wave that you can’t on a fish.

Can you expand on that? What is really happening with the rail and fin when riding a fish?

When riding a fish you kind of use your rail the way a boogie boarder would use their rail — boogie boarders don’t even have fins, so instead of just turning off the tail as you would with a tri fin thruster board, you’re using one of your twin fins plus your forward part of your front foot rail. You’re essentially holding in with the rail.

With a tri-fin going into a bottom turn you still have two fins in the water, on a twin fin you have only one fin in the water, along with your rail. It all has to do with the fact that the wide point is forward of center on most fishes.

Fishes have the wide point forward of center by the front foot. On shortboards and funboards you’re driving off of your back foot where the wide point is back of center — creating the driving point off your back foot. If thrusters are rear wheel drive, then fishes are front wheel drive.

Any ideas on the next trend in boards?

The quad craze in full swing. Quad fishes, and regular shortboards are going quad. Ive never liked them myself. They originally came out in the early 80s. In and out. In the single fin era to twin fin era the quads came for a sec and then the thruster took over. Today, they’re more popular than when they first came out. Quads are more drivey than a twin fin. In my experience, when doing a big roundhouse cutback, there’s a certain point in the cutback where the fins sort of release. Mid way through your roundhouse cutback, it kinda pops out and slides, where if you had a thruster that wouldn’t happen.

What do you think will happen with quads the way they are progressing?

I’ve seen what they’re doing on quads — they keep bringing the trailing fins closer to the stringer. They’re going to keep bringing them in and you’re going to have a thruster.

When did u first shape?

I was around it when I was a grommet. My brother who is 6 years older was shaping in Santa Barbara for Clyde Beaty and the like. I think it was in 1997 I shaped my first board.

You only have a MySpace page, right? I think you want to stay underground? Why?

I’m really busy with helping everyone else out, I’m actually kinda afraid to get all kinds of orders in. One of these days ill have to get my own show going. But Ive got a pretty good gig where people let me do boards under their roof. If I were to go production it might not work.

It’s kinda a hard transition to go from a steady paycheck to all on your own. Right now it doesn’t matter cause I have plenty of other work.

People will come up to me and ask wow what is that thing that youre riding. How long is that board? Is that a kneeboard? All the people in the water just kinda found out that I make them and then they ask and I do.

You know, I haven’t heard of kneeboards so much. Is a kneeboard the same thing as a fish?

I use the old school templates off of kneeboards from the 70s and put modern concave bottoms (like single to double barrel concaves) which help them plane better. Those old style boards were more v-bottom which turn really nice, but when the waters coming across the bottom of the board, its being slowed down by the v-shape in the board vs a concave you actually plaing off the surface of the water and you almost have an air pocket. it’s less drag which is faster. Its kinda like a hovercraft.

What do you think about when u are talking to someone new about making them a board?

If you’re out in the water its really good to see their ability. If they’re not a great surfer, you tend to make them a wider thicker board so it’s easier to catch waves. If they’re better you’d tend to thin out their board more. Generally because they’re able to generate more speed.

I truly believe in flex patterns. Really thick boards wont flex as much and wont bend into the wave.

What do u think of off the rack boards? Compared with having someone shape you a board with your body weight and ability in mind.

Off the rack is generally more pop-out. The boards not customized. There’s not anything wrong with them. But I’m pretty anti china because a lot of the people that are big in the business are having their boards made in china which means that people are actually having to close down their shops. So people like me in the glass factories are actually losing their jobs. And the quality is terrible cause they dont know what they’re doing really. But thats whats happening — people are selling out.

Ever made aboard that didn’t ride well?

Al Merrick has made boards that I didn’t like – but has also made some that I thought were amazing. Every board is different.

Are you interested in experimenting with strange shapes?

I’ve made flex tails gimmick off of George Greenough where I’ve ground out all the foam in the tail to where its just glass— you glass multiple layers in the tail so that the back 2 inches of the tail is just pure glass. You can actually push on it with your thumb and it bends. As George Greenough says, it allows you to create a variable rocker.

Fin placement moving stuff around. Extreme rockers and extreme flat rockers. Everything works good— it just depends on what waves you’re riding. Curvy-er the wave curvy-er the board. Flater the wave flatter the board.

Have you seen board shapes/designs that have inspired you, or influenced the way you look at boards?

Yeah I think everybody looks at everybody’s stuff. Everybody copies everybody. Even Al Merrick brings his old designs and bring them back to life. I remember somewhere in the bible there’s a passage that really says that there’s nothing new.

Malcomb Campbell’s got a pretty unique thing: The bonzer. I’d give him credit for having the 1st thruster. Not Simon Anderson who got credit.

What do you think of Bonzers?

I haven’t really ridden them. I have a few that I have to fix up, but Im planning on riding them. I got 3 of them in my garage.

Do you ride different kinds of boards a lot?

Sometimes you feel like you’re surfing stagnant – I can get kinda board with what I ride so I like to mix it up a lot.

When I get bored I like to ride something different. Some people get really screwed up if they mix up their equipment, but some people like Tom Curren can just jump on any thing and just rip up on it.

Being in the business – are there funny stories where you would notice something that someone who doesn’t work with surfboards wouldn’t?

(after thinking about this one for a bit) Oh yeah…You know, if you look at the bottom of pelicans when you see them flying low over the water? I’ve noticed the contour in their wingspan and their body. If you watch them glide you see how the concave in their wings creates lift and allows them to glide. Each of their wings — if you were to put a flat surface beneath their wings — you’d see a concave on each side of the wing. And their body is the v part — which cuts the air or what not. I look at that contour and see the double barrel concave which is a really popular design in a lot of surfboards.

What’s the best way for people to get in touch with you?

S-Turn’s cell number is 805-815-8274. Or I can be reached by email at

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: July 3rd, 2007 | Comments: (5)
Bookmark this at |

Infinity Surfboards began business in 1970 where Steve Boehne and his wife Barrie open their first shop in an old gas station in Huntington Beach. Since then, their shaping business has grown considerably with over 30,000 Infinity surfboards shaped and the shaping crew currently features Steve and Dan Boehne, Larry Cobb, and Ryan Engle. As Infinity’s founder and main shaper, Steve has shown all their shapers his techniques and views on shaping water craft. Steve began surfing in 1959 and years later moved towards making surfboards. He had shaped a hundred boards as a back yard shaper when he began work at Gordie Surfboards. Steve learned a lot from Gordie (known for fancy stringers & tail blocks in his classic longboards) who helped Steve develop his philosophy and shaping style. He currently still shapes over 250 surfboards every year. He and his wife have also had great success as tandem surfers winning six USA Championships, six Makaha International meets, two World Titles, and other tandem contests.


Infinity Surfboard Models

Cluster – Three fin design featuring V bottom and the biggest finds on the rail and with clustered fins.
Secret Weapon – Cluster model that works great in beach breaks. Short and thick with shortboard maneuvering.
Rad NoseRider – This model is a fast trimming and levitating nose rider.
Competitor – High performance longboard designed for competition. Light 4 oz glass, thin, responsive, and a double concave bottom.
Classic – 60/40 raisl provides a natural feeling ride along with smooth and flowing turns.
Stylemaster – Classic design with improved performance features.
Rich Chew Models – Competition model but with more floatation.
Floater – Designed for big or matured guys to give you enough float.


Infinity Shortboards

The Blurr
Geoff Brack Pro Model
The Automatic
The Silverback
Ariifa Gun
Rawson Guns
Authentic Retros
Summer of ’83

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: June 5th, 2007 | Comments: (2)
Bookmark this at |


Wave Weapons, based in Oceanside, CA is a Christian surfboard company run by Louis David Lytle, a relatively well known big wave charger. He surfed and learned the art of shaping from Dick Brewer in Hawaii. During the 70’s and 80’s, Lytle learned a lot about board design by surfing Hawaii’s powerful waves at places like Pipeline and Sunset Beach. He took what he learned from Dick Brewer and made his own modifications based on his own surfing experiences.

Lytle has also shown his appreciation to our military by offering a blowout sale on brand new surfboards with proceeds going to their military surfing project. Their project was a success. 180 new surfboards were sold and nine U.S. Marines were given brand new surfboards. Military personnel always get a 50% discount on all in-stock surfboards. What a great offer!
Wave Weapons offers a variety of surfboards including the following shapes:

Modern/Hybrid Fishes
Twin Fin Fishes
Standard Shortboards
Mini Tankers

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: June 2nd, 2007 | Comments: (0)
Bookmark this at |


Feugo Surfboards, based in Redondo Beach, CA features surfboards shaped by Roland Chocarro and Jennifer Holbrook. Chocarro has been shaping surfboards in Southern California for more than 20 years and besides shaping under the Feugo label, owns Secret Spot Surf Shop and the Surfworks factory. His Surfworks factory has worked with such labels as Stewart, Rhyn Noll, Harbour, and Irwin. He has shaped every type of board from fishes to kite boards and his philosophy is to provide a high quality surfboard at a reasonable price.

Jennifer Holbrook, who hails from Florida, has been developing her shaping skills while working at Chocarro’s Surfworks factory. She credits her surf instructing experience with influencing her shaping philosophy and has specialized in shaping boards specifically for women.

Feugo Surfboards offers the following custom surfboards & shapes:

Firestate Longboards – Offering both traditional and mini malibu longboards which feature a classic style nose for hanging ten and a progressive last half of the board for high performance surfing.

Inferno Fun/Hybrid – These boards offer a full nose and wide outline for easy paddling and wave catching ability. The pointier nose offers better maneuvering than mini tankers with similar paddling ability.

Pyrotechnic Shortboard – These shortboards offering the paddling similar to that of a funboard with extra thickness and a wider than normal outline provides surfers with easy wave entry.

Hand Shaped Customs – Feugo also offers guns, fishes, and every other shape in between.

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 17th, 2007 | Comments: (2)
Bookmark this at |


Mandala Custom Shapes which is based in San Francisco, CA, specializes in vintage, retro, and alternative surfboards. Shaper Manuel Caro offers a variety of fish with a vast number of fin templates and combinations. Caro believes that having a custom surfboard shaped is a great way to develop a personal connection between surfer and shaper. Custom orders usually involve finding out the surfer’s personal information like height, weight, surfing experiences, waves surfed, etc. which helps in shaping a board most suited for that particular surfer.

All custom surfboard glassing is done by Moonlight Glassing in San Marcos for the best quality lamination and boards are normally glassed 6oz+6oz deck, 6oz bottom. Other glassing options are available depending on preference and or weight. Several models offered by Mandala Custom Shapes include:


Double-wing Quad Fish
Round Pin Quad
Bat-tail Quad

Marine-Ply Twin Keel
Marine-Ply Canard Quad
Marine-Ply AK2

Single fins
Mandala Five

Caro has been influenced by Rich Pavel, Thomas Campbell, and Alex Knopps to name a few.

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 16th, 2007 | Comments: (20)
Bookmark this at |


In the 1960’s, Dewey Weber influenced both surfboard design and the surfing lifestyle that still has influence to this day. Dewey quickly garnered the reputation of being one of surfing’s top businessmen and soon he was recognized as the largest and most innovative surfboard manufacturer in the entire surfing industry. During that span, Weber contributed many surfboard design and manufacturing innovations and opened up surfing’s reach by introducing skateboard and apparel line to his surfboard business.

Currently, Dewey Weber is focused on making top notch custom surfboards which are all hand made in the U.S. All Dewey Weber surfboards are manufactured in Southern California and glassing is done by Kaysen Surf Designs. Being that the company has always embraced change and innovation, it is no surprise that the company utilizes a state of the art shaping machine and has experimented with epoxy resin over the past few years.

The company specializes in high quality retro and traditional longboard shapes and Dewey Weber’s San Clemente Surf Shop provides surfers with a wide variety of quality stock boards in their showroom. If you aren’t able to find exactly what you’re looking for, the Weber shaping team can design a board to your exact specifications.

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 14th, 2007 | Comments: (0)
Bookmark this at |


Fletcher Chouinard Design’s roots began in Ventura, California where Yvon Chouinard opened his blacksmith shop in the 1960’s. The Chouinard Equipment Company built some of the finest mountaineering gear and the shop’s location allowed everyone to surf and make equipment better.

30 years later, Yvon and Fletcher opened Fletcher Chouinard Designs with the goal of producing better surfboards. They were intent on finding the best technologies and composite materials in hopes of creating a stronger and lighter surfboard. Their openness to change and embracing new ideas has helped them explore fiberglass composite technologies and experimenting with their team riders. Their main goal has always been about building a better surfboard.

Another one of the Chouinards’ goals is to create the best surfboards possible and reduce the use of toxic and non-renewable materials used in the production of traditional surfboards. After a year of testing various “greener” materials, they’ve come up with a “cutting edge” composite surfboard that’s lighter, stonger, and less toxic.

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 10th, 2007 | Comments: (1)
Bookmark this at |


Johnny Rice grew up in Santa Cruz, California and shaped his own balsa wood surfboard early on in his garage. That board didn’t end up working so well but it was the beginning of his shaping career. Rice, who is part Plains Indian, would find himself working for Dale Velzy in Venice, California. One day Velzy asked Rice if he wanted to learn how to shape and through the teachings of Velzy, he learned the art of surfboard shaping.

Johnny Rice has worked for a few of the industry’s biggest names including, Velzy, Jacobs, Kim Kidd, Con, Rick, South Bay, Oceanside, and Dick Catri to name a few. Over the eyars, he’s made surfboards with interesting names such as Malibu Competition, the Black Widow, the Scorpion, V 360, Instrument and Renegade. Recently, he teamed up with Surftech to produce epoxy versions of his high performance and cruiser models. Rice shapes his boards a little thinner than normal with more V in the tail leading to faster turns.

Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 8th, 2007 | Comments: (6)
Bookmark this at |


Hunt Custom Surfboards was started by Gregg Hunt in 2000 and is located in Alhambra, CA. Hunt Custom Surfboards specializes in quality hand shaped longboards with emphasis on classic style and modern performance characteristics. While they do offer a large variety of stock boards, if you can’t find a board that fits your surfing style, they can shape a custom board for you.

All surfboards feature Walker Foam blanks and quality glass jobs from Shoreline Glassing, located in Hermosa Beach. All Hunt Custom Surfboards utilize hand crafted fins from Fibreglas Fin Co.

Gregg Hunt grew up surfing in California at well known spots like Malibu and D&W Jetty. He began shaping custom surfboards in 2000 specifically for noseriding and trimming and has constantly refined his shapes over the last six years.


Filed in: Shaper Reviews (CA) | On: May 7th, 2007 | Comments: (1)
Bookmark this at |


San Diego shaper Tim Bessell’s shaping beginnings happened in his parent’s garage when he shaped his first board at the age of 13. A couple years later he began shaping for Sunset Surfboards and began making a name for himself. Tim later moved to to ultimate testing grounds of Hawaii where his shaping was put to the highest test. He shaped for Lightning Bolt Surfboards which at the time was one of the top surfboard manufacturers around.

After moving back to California, Tim got into art and apparel and began making a name for himself in those respective endeavors. In 1997, he decided to focus only on surfboards and Tim Bessell Surfboards was resurrected.

Tim has produced over 43,000 surfboards which have been featured on the covers of major surf publications. He has also shaped surfboards for some of the top surfers in the world who include eter King, Luke Egan, Jon Roseman, Glen Winton, Brad Gerlach, Vetea David, and Ricky Irons to name a few.

Bessell’s custom surfboards and willingness to work with each individual customer has help build his strong reputation in San Deigo.