5 of the Best Surfers Who Shape Their Own Surfboards.

5 of the Best: Surfers Who Shape Their Own Surfboards

Surfer-shapers are a dying breed, but these guys sit at the apex of the sport by Ben Mondy from surfeuropemag.com


In an ideal world, where the wind is always offshore, Donald Trump is a piss-trough lolly and Kanoa Igarashi is still on the QS, the surfer-shaper — the surfer who shapes his or her own surfboards and rides them as they were meant to be ridden — would be heralded as the very apex of the sport.

To be very, very good at one is laudable, but to be a high achiever in both disciplines is one of the most difficult gigs in surfing. These six below have done that, and much more.
Through their surfing and their designs, they have all changed surfing for the better. It’s time we gave them their props.

Gerry Lopez, aka Mr Pipeline, on a board he made himself at a wave he made his own. Photo: Servais/A-Frame
Gerry Lopez
“Before Gerry the boards were too straight and too wide and basically the boys were pearling on every wave at Pipeline,” two-time Pipe Master Rory Russell told Surf Europe, using the word pearling for the first time anywhere since in 1979.

“So he worked on a rocker and outline that would fit in the wave. And they worked. We all stole the templates of course. Anyone who has ever had a tube at Pipe has Gerry to thank.”

Gerry Lopez’ efforts at Pipeline, both as a competitor and as Zen-stylist in the ’70s and early ’80s rightfully overshadowed his role in the board design that made the whole cakewalk possible in the first place. However since dropping out of the Pipe spotlight and relocating to the forests of Oregon, Gerry has continued his surfboard shaping, wracking up five decades of high-spec foam wrangling for every type of person and for every type of wave.

Mark Richards — game-changing as a surfer and shaper, arguably underrated as a sex symbol. Photo: Merkel/A-Frame
Mark Richards
No other surfer-shaper has won a world title on their own hand-shaped creations, let alone the four MR racked up from 1979 to 1983. MR’s greatest contribution to surfboard design was, of course, the twin fin.

“Two fins changed my life,” Mark Richards told Surf Europe. MR had adapted a Reno Abellira two-fin design, itself modeled on a Steve Lis Fish, and the transformation from the stiff confines of a single fin to the loose-hipped twin-fin transformed surfing.

Around this time he also had both a silver Porsche and a silver wetsuit, and still managed not to look like a dick. MR retired in 1984, with back injuries and the advent of the tri-fin meaning he quit at his competitive peak.

For the next 20 years he went back to shaping out of his Dad’s surf shop in Newcastle. It is only in the last decade that surfers have again realized the potential of the twin fin and fish, and now a Mark Richards board is rightly seen as a prized possession. There are surfer-shapers, and shaper-surfers, and Mark Richards has a decent claim to be the best of them all.



Simon Anderson
Simon Anderson’s “invention” of the thruster, or tri-fin, is obviously what Big Simon will always be remembered for. However, to a degree it has overshadowed both his surfing achievements and his subsequent 30 years shaping boards for the world’s best surfers, including Kelly Slater, Andy Irons, and a host of current QS rippers.

In competition Simon won Bells twice, the Coke Surfabout and Pipeline Masters, and was a mainstay in the top 10, despite being 6’3” and weighing in over 100 kilograms. When he retired in the mid 80s he was the last real surfer-shaper on tour.

Yet it is the tri-fin that he will always be associated with, a design that he never received any real financial compensation for. “If I didn’t come up with it right then, there were a lot of other people at the time that were working toward that same end goal,” he has said. “I’m just fortunate, and happy to contribute.

In addition to shaping his own boards and mastering the floater like no man before or since, Richie Collins was a diehard proponent of paddling gloves.

Richie Collins
The Skeletor! The mohawk! The endless floaters! The fluro wetsuits! The Wave Tools surfboard!

Yep, for a brief time in the late ’80s and early ’90s Collins was the Californian that you either loathed with a passion or loved with teenage frenzy. And while his brash, trash-talking personality, uber-claims, and arms-and-elbows stylemade all the headlines, it must remembered he scaled to no. 8 in the world riding his own boards.

There hasn’t be a surfer-shaper that has reached anywhere near the top since Collins, and even if he’s best known for his radical hyper-colour, anti-style approach, he should also be applauded as the last of a dying breed.


Ryan Burch
The San Diego native is one of surfing’s best current out-of-the-box thinkers, and is literally carving himself a name as one of the hottest, weirdest and most in-demand shapers on the planet.

While he makes beautiful fish-type boards and longboards for a growing waiting list, he is perhaps best known for his asymmetrical boards. “Surfing and shaping are pretty much all I do so I’m going to have to continue to reinvent myself to keep it fun and interesting,” he said recently.

If you’ve seen footage of Burch surfing grinding G-Land or perfect Peru, I defy you to name anyone that makes wave riding look more interesting than Burch right now. And in that I include the Surf Europe Editor, whose surfing on a Burch-inspired asymmetrical at Mundaka is also interesting, but for all the wrong reasons. With shaping inspiration from Carl Ekstrom, Rich Pavel, Skip Frye and Joel Tudor, and a rare, silky-smooth progressive style, Burch is the modern template for the millennial surfer-shaper.

Blue Magazine Japan. Twin Fin issue.

 

Mostly I feel that my banging away on the internet about my passion for vintage surfboards 1978-1983 or more specifically, vintage twin fins, is some what of a lost cause. 

It can feel a bit like yelling down an empty darkened tunnel about a subject others care little about.

I'm fine with that. 


But occasionally others pick up on my stoke and enthusiasm.

Blue magazine have just published an a twin fin issue with an interview and pics of my boards, featured the Electric vintage twin fin trip to WA with Craig and Ozzie and done a piece on the 'Communing with twin fins' Surf Swap event.








They titled the final section 'Enthusiasm'.
Well- thats nice o know that folks are listening.
:-)

Don’t hoard your board – get ready to surf swap


Are you a surfer who is tired of being hounded by your mum or partner about your ever-growing collection of surfboards cluttering the house, garage or backyard shed? If so, a cool local event next month will give you the chance to offload some of your ‘babies’ and leave you happy knowing they’re going to a good home.

The first annual ‘Boardcollector Surf Swap Avalon Beach’ – staged in conjunction with the Avalon Palm Beach Business Chamber – hits Dunbar Park on Sunday April 9.

Organiser Damion Fuller says that like every good vintage surf swap there will be pre-1990 surfboards for sale and to swap.

“It will be a festival of surf culture involving vintage surfboard collectors sharing their collections, local surfboard makers showing their latest designs, local artists, craftsman, and businesses showing their wares plus gourmet food and drinks stalls,” he said.

“The best part of every surf swap is the chance to pick up a new vintage stick or clean out the garage and turn the clutter into cash.

“So far we have wooden tooth picks from the 1930s, Midget Farrelly’s personal riders, Hawaiian big wave guns, ’70s single fins and twin fins right through to ’80s thrusters, quads and Lazor Zaps on display from collectors from Torquay to the Sunshine Coast – with a month to go we’re calling for more folk from the northern beaches to bring out their boards for display.”

Damion said the surf swap would also offer free vintage ‘Antiques Roadshow’ style surfboard appraisals by expert appraisers, with owners encouraged to bring down their “mystery” surfboards which would have their shape and design reviewed, plus the board’s history before a market value is calculated.

The day will also highlight the best of today’s new surfboards and contemporary shapers, with previous events featuring shapers and surfer such as Hayenshapes (with Hayden Cox and Craig Anderson), DHD (with Asher Pacey), Channel Islands (with Wade Goodall), Misfit Shapes, Dead Kooks, Mick Mackie and more.

Also, STAB Magazine will be hosting a free ‘Filmlyfe’ Film festival on the green of the Avalon Bowling Club, screening some rare gems from their rich archive and premiering exclusive Northern Beaches content. The green will feature gourmet food stalls and will be licensed.

“It will be a day of boards, bands, beers and burgers, kicking off at 9am in Dunbar Park and running through till 9pm in the Avalon Bowling club,” Damion said.

“In Dunbar Park there will a stage screen and bean bags on the grass to relax in and watch films and listen to Q&As with local surfing and shaping legends quizzed by guest MC Luke Kennedy, editor of Tracks,” he said.

More than 50 stalls are available for businesses – including photographers, local artists, local clothing and accessories, plus coffee, food, craft beer and wine – to showcase their wares. Stalls (3 x 3 metres) cost $175 – or $150 if you are a member of the APB Business Chamber.



Dual Dreams In The Desert: Craig Anderson, Ozzie Wright, and six vintage twin fins

Board collector's vintage Byrne 'Clinker' twin fin makes the cover with Craig Anderson.

When Stab and Electric disappeared into the dust of West Oz with Craig Anderson, Ozzie Wright, and six vintage twin-fin crafts, the curious atmospheric effects of dual rudders quickly materialised: Most notably, a touch of soul.

Can you feel it? That inescapable resurgence of the twin fin design? Right now, every notable shaper is doing an 80’s template single fly twin fin. Asher Pacey is ripping the Superbank on them, and even Mick Fanning is shaping his own. But, why now? And, do they even work?
If the single fly swallow tail twin fin is an idea from the early 80’s that’s worth reviving, then perhaps we’ve left other design concepts behind. Are there other design elements from that period worth revisiting? Like, channel bottoms, flex fins, or chimed rails?

The common belief is that twin fins are only for when it’s small, mushy and onshore, but four-time world champ (on a twin fin), Mark Richards, says in Simon Anderson’s Thrust that twin fins work best in hollower, more powerful conditions. Could this be true?
Stab, Craig Anderson, Ozzie Wright and I grabbed six vintage twin fins from different shapers, from different places, all with different design features, and headed into the desert with host Ry Craike, to find some barrels and put the ideas to the test. Despite a swell prediction of eight-to-ten feet, Craig requested 5’7” to 5’10”s and Ozzie asked for 5’3” to 5’7”s…

See what these boys could do on 40 year old surfboards in proper waves made the headache ache and pain of collecting for the past 2 decades all worthwhile.


So I went into the shed and pulled out a selection of the most unique twin fin designs I had. We ended up packing (from left to right)

- 6'0" Nirvana twin fin shaped by Peter Lawrence designed by Glen Winton. (AU)
- 5'10" KC twin fin shaped by Greg Trotter. (AU)
- 5'8" Wave Tools twin fin shaped by Lance Collins (USA)
- 5'8" Fluid Foils twin fin shaped by Jim Pollard (AU)
-5'9" Byrne 'clinker' twin fin shaped by Laurie Byrne (AU)
- 6'0" Skipp twin fin shaped by Terry Richardson (AU)
- 6' 3" SKY twin fin shaped by Bob McTavish (AU)

Ozzie with the Lance Collins, a long way from Newport Beach CA.

Ozzie on the Sky, showing that a pair of big fins has no trouble with some size.

Craig giving the Wave Tools a go.




Reynolds Yater- Kevin Ancell collaboration.


These photos are details of a stunning collaboration between Renny Yater and Californian artist Kevin Ancell. The illustrations are burned into an 11' 4" balsa blank that Yater describes as a 'stiletto gun'. The drawings, done with a soldering iron and water colour, tell the irreverent chronological story of the history of surfboard design, from the ancient Hawaiians to todays overcrowded line ups.
















Port Fairy Australia Day Surf Swap.


Keith Curtain invites you to The Australia Day Surfboard Swap Meet.
Its is on again this Friday 27th January as
part of this years Moyneyana Festival Program in Port Fairy 😄.

Do you have an old surfboard🏄 lying around x 💯? This is a great chance
to buy, swap or sell everything surfing...including Ex-GO SURF softboards
and SUP's at marked down prices.😉

Bring a board, save the date, spread the word. Gold coin donation to Port
Fairy Sea Scouts...

Coffee ☕️ and Icea Tea 🍹by Bean Cruzin and ChaCha Tea Blends 👏 See you
there.👍

"Anything is possible- Larry Bertleman"




'Hey mate! Can I have a look at that board". Its literally years since I've had the opportunity to yell that out down at the beach.
Vintage surfboard collecting has become a lot more popular than when I started and seredipitous finds, once common place are becoming a lot rarer. 

Of course the good news is these old olds are being bought, restored and cherished instead of ending up at the tip.

"How big is it? Oh, thats just my size.....would you consider selling it??"


Rarer but not impossible!


I drove away, stoked to realize that I could still get lucky and find a nice old Bertleman twinny out there.

Too bad its not the same in the water I thought, you can never find good, fun, uncrowded waves these days. 
Especially on a day like today, a sunny Sunday in the school holidays.
I pulled up at the point, 
3-4ft, a bit windy, but only 2 guys out.

Interesting to note that the by-line on the decal reads.

"Anything is possible- Larry Bertleman" 
  

I'm pleased new find can replace the hole in my collection left when I foolishly sold this board a while back.


Larry, during an earlier visit to Sydney.