Which Shaper is For You?
As Al Merrick, Rusty, Lost..., and all those big name
surfboard brands reign supreme with the majority of
surfers, the real question to ask yourself... is it
worth paying top dollar for a board shaped for Kelly
Slater and Andy Irons?
There is a great deal of opinion on this matter from
both sides of the argument. Surely, Merricks, Rusty's,
Lost's... are great boards. However, I believe that
everyone besides the 1% that make up pro surfers would
benefit greatly from developing a surfer/shaper relationship
with their local shaper.
It would probably help you to develop a close relationship
with shapers like Kent
Senatore and Kimo
Greene. Shapers like these guys will take the time
to get to know you and you won't be playing the guessing
game of "will this brand name off the shelf board
work for me? Is it the right size and shape for my ability?
Can I even paddle it?" Just make sure you figure
out whether you're into riding longboards
or shortboard surfboards.
All of the top pro surfers you see in surf movies and
magazines have an extensive relationship with their
primary shaper. Kelly Slater and Tom Curren's surfer/shaping
relationship with Al Merrick has been well documented
through the years. They constantly test different boards,
giving Merrick precious feedback to tweak rockers, vees,
concaves, width, fins, and everything else in between.
So if all the top surfers in the world have a relationship,
why don't you? Why are you still buying boards off the
rack at T&C, Jacks, or Ron Jon's? For those that
surfboards from some of the bigger names like Tokoro
and JC, are you getting full attention from John Carper
or Wade Tokoro? My guess is that you probably aren't
unless you're a team rider. Some of these shapers are
insanely busy with their business and obviously too
busy to really care to help you improve. Some of the
other top shapers could really care less that he helped
Joe Schmo finally do that round house foam ball combo.
If you're thinking that a custom
surfboard is way too expensive for your tastes,
it's probably cheaper than that off the rack brand name
surfboard the salesperson has been trying to sell you
for the past 30 minutes. Why would you want to fork
over big bucks for a stock board when you can pay less
and get a stick custom made for you?
So what's the solution? You should find a good shaper
in your area that has the time and really cares about
helping you improve. That shaper will sit down with
you and learn about your surfing by asking where you
like to surf, your surfing experiences, and some of
your surfing goals.
A good shaper will make a board that will help you
improve. If you're of average ability, he'll probably
talk you out of getting that Kelly Slater type board
with extreme rocker and tell you to get a board with
a more relaxed rocker to help your paddling. A dedicated
shaper will make you a surfboard that will improve your
surfing more and not sell you his most popular pro model.
The next time you browse a surf shop looking for your
new Al Merrick, you may want to look into custom
surfboards that will actually improve your surfing.
See you in the water.
Back to TRIM: A Surfer's Perspective