Get to know your local shaper. Not a sales rep.


Thanks once again to guest writer Dan Colburn for hitting this topic right on the fin. And for hosting the upcoming 2010 Cocoa Surf Fest.

I ordered a new board yesterday. I didn’t fill out an online form. I didn’t call it in over the phone. I didn’t even go into a surf shop to do it.

I met with my shaper in person.

Not only that, but we completed the order while standing around in his shaping bay … covered in foam dust and smelling of resin. Truth be told, this is how he prefers to do business; it’s his way of keeping his creations personalized. Actually it goes a little deeper than that.

When I first asked him to make me a board he said yes (of course) but he asked if I would first meet him for a surf session so he could gauge my style and thus build a board best suited to my size, ability and the way I ride waves. So we met on a sunny morning in south Cocoa Beach and paddled out into some beautiful chest high waves. We chatted a bit about board design; he asked what I liked and disliked about my current board(s) and he even let me demo something akin to what I was hoping he would make for me. We both caught lots of waves and I caught him spying me on several.

The next day I showed up at his home and played his guitar (a beautiful Guild acoustic), listened to his favorite jazz band on his iPod, drank a beer and oh yeah, ordered my new board. It was an awesome experience.

This is what buying surfboards is all about; getting to know your shaper and supporting someone local, not going into some mega store and grabbing something off the rack that was made a million miles from the waves you intend to ride it on. Something that you hope will work for you (only to find it’s too thin or too narrow or the tail is too wide). You need to work closely with a shaper in order to get a board that you will not only like but will improve your surfing. You need to get a little foam dust on your feet while ordering your new board … otherwise you’re just another mindless mega store consumer.

Keep it local and keep it American!




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