Boardworks comment

I never thought it would bother me, but it does. Standing on the boardwalk yesterday AM in the rain I watched about 5 molded boardworks-type board get paddled out into some heaving Juan-sent waves. I’ve only shaped a few boards, all for myself so far… and it all ready bugs me that people buy these things. My observation is that these were mostly people who are fairly new surfers, and maybe they are sold on the durability aspect. I don’t be-grudge them the fun of surfing - on a molded board or not - but there is something kinda wrong about to me about using these type of boards when a regular - off the rack - shaped board is no more expensive, and probably a good deal more refined. It bothers me that this issue bothers me too… Am I turning into a board snob? I don’t care much for Asian/Mexican/Chezh labor laws but that’s not the issue here for me either, it just seems like the yuppie wind-surfer thing - ‘I got a molded Merrick - let’s hit-it man!’. The ‘now I’m a surfer too’ mentality shouldn’t make a difference, but it does. And just last week I traded boards with a young friend of mine for a 1/2 hour - his 7’3" Bic for my 9’6" Bunger to let him try a LB. He is a very new surfer and I think the Bic is fine for him. It was also quite a fun board for me… so I’m a hypocrite too. somewhere in the shaping of my own few boards I copped an attitude. My Observations anyway. Thanks, Eric

Eric, I read an interview with Donald Takayama that might be of interest. He replied to a question regarding the epoxy versions of his boards. He said that the shapes are around 95% accurate to the original. Noting that these manufactured boards allow his shapes to be shipped anywhere in the world, as the demand requires, he said that if someone wants something customized from him after trying one of the epoxies, they can still order it. It all sounds like a good business situation for shapers like him who have a name. Personally, I think there will always be a niche for backyard shapers. You can always get it “Custom”. But it also looks like there is now a niche for factory-made epoxy boards. What the Hey…let’s just go sufing and have fun on whatever board we have. Doug

Where did you read the Takayama interview?

there is something kinda wrong about to me about using these type of boards when a regular - off the rack - shaped board is no more expensive, and probably a good deal more refined. Eric J --------------------------------------------------------------------------- I’ve seen a lot of “stockers” put in shops that are nothing close to someones custom requirments. I’ve also seen many ugly, painted, covered up boards thrown in shops. So, compared equally, it’s a wash. It depends who’s rack your buying from. Some shapers I know, it’s the same craftsmanship either way.

These new popouts sure don’t seem to be picking up the stigma that was attached to those who rode a Dextra or a Malibu in the 60’s. I’m seeing some good surfers on these new boards. On the other hand the chinese imports just seem to be first boards. The kid wises his parents up that he isn’t happy with his costco,ronjob, surfboards australia or whatever and his next board is made in USA from a label from a biggie or a garage.

The Takayama interview was in Surfshot Magazine. Doug

It’s not what you ride, but how you ride it.

To all… Like I said - I’m not sure why it really bothered me - but it did. Take it for what it’s worth - I don’t think any less of the guys riding them, but I do see the value (for myself) of making my own boards, and the value of an experienced shapers input (and no, my input wouldn’t fall into that catagory). It’s true that there is a whole lot of junk that gets sold, always been that way I guess. These boards were not junk - even the Bic, it had some wierd seams but rode fine - nor were all riding them rank beginners. Maybe that’s why it bugged me - it could make one question the value of a shaper who’s not got the name recognition to get in with R.French & Co, without first considering the board. But… how many Merrick’s and Rusty’s are sold for just the name & logo too… Which should not be the reason they move off the shelf. It’s hard to compete with an AM, Rusty, or Takayama shape - or name - molded or not. Now that I have a bit of appreciation of what goes into building a board, I just appreciate the builders more, and I guess I should carry that to the big factories too. They are doing a decent job, and may care just as much about their craft. When standing by my racks, looking at a hunk of foam, that may be hard to do. Thanks for the band-width. Eric J

The way I see it, simple fact is this: 95% of all surfers ride “pop outs” from the standpoint that 95% of all the boards out there are never touched by the “shaper” whose name the label represents. Given the volume of orders out there, the machine shape has become the standard, and given that so many “stock” or “production” boards are sold as is off the rack, why should the shaper devote their time to grinding out the same exact board hundreds of times? Besides, if everyone rode true hand shapes, what are the chances that any of us would get a custom hand shaped board in any acceptable length of time?I know that the Swaylock’s audience is probably the exception in that most of you actually understand the shapes that you ride and know the difference a 1/2 inch here or there makes, but I’m (somewhat)in the biz and I’m here to tell you that 9 out of every 10 boards sold are “off the rack” production shapes. From a replication standpoint, the machine shapes are way better than a hand shaped board by a “ghost shaper”, as they are more true to the “plug” or original than a hand shaped duplicate could ever be. So if you broke your favorite board or want one a little longer than the last but otherwise exactly the same, the machine shape is the way to go. Hand shapes have their place for the rider who either knows what they want or conversely wants the shaper to come up with something very new that’s not out there already. But why worry about what the other guy is riding? Believe me, the riders who need hand shapes are already on them, and most of the shaper’s order cards are full already anyway, so why worry about that someone else is riding a “pop out”? Besides, if the “pop out” market furthers the progression to better materials for ALL boards in any way , I’m all for it.

I am just an average bloke or average surfing skills, I surf most days and enjoy my surfing, I am not in the industry as such and so my business is not at risk, however this is my opinion from an outsiders perspective and no offence is ment. This seems to be a classic case of an established market being undercut by a new player. Eg, Virgin Airways and their budget plays in the high priced full service phone and Airways industry, at the end of the day the small players get squeezed out by the big boys unless they find a niche market. So what do you do, canibalise your own industry and profits by price matching, this can work but how deep are your pockets?, drop the premium product and only sell the cheaper products and become a comodity, or segregate the market by price and quality expectations. That being the case then there should be two price markets for boards, a cheaper market for moulded or profiled boards as I see them as the same thing, and then a premium market for hand shaped custom boards. The issue now is that the public can be sold the cheaper board at a premium price under a premium brand, and that is false representation. How many of your guys profile boards, do the rails and ship them off to Japanese shops? Its up to the shapers to segregate this market by appropriately branding their products and protecting them by using the legislation and goverment bodies to enforce the branding. Just like we have made in Australia or made in USA, there should be Shaped by Hand or similar, maybe with a logo ( like the Midnight Oil hand or something similar) . Sounds to me that if the industry does not become self regulating then there is a good posibility of the mainstream surfer either getting ripped off or becomming accustomed to pop-out products and then not appreciating the work of a custom shaper, in which case the down side is in the custom end of the market. Now this may be seen as cynical however I feel the industry has to acknowledge this issue as it is a limitation to the whole custom board marketing line. How many boards can a custom shaper do in a week, if he is doing 20-40 boards a week then he is devoting an hour or two to your board, and does he remember you, the average Joe when he comes to shaping your board, as opposed to the other 20 he just did, and add to that the shaper has a few weeks back log of boards to shape so what chance is there of him remembering you when he looks at the work order form, and to most of us does it really make a difference anyway, are we all being sold the custom board dream that it will improve our surfing. So maybe the solution is that a good shaper limits the boards produced a week by hand and then suplement the business side by producting popouts or profiled boards. But I think the two price market seems logical, better than the current issues that you seem to have of having to pricing match hand made boards at the popout board price. Its about diffentiating your product and creating a separate market for premium boards.

Good points, Freemarket economy = evolve and change with the times or go out of buisness Times are changing and popouts have a solid market share. My personal thoughts are to call Greg Loehr and look into making your own Epoxy boards. Went to Patagonia yesterday and looked at thier boards that looked just like regular PU boards with similar weight BUT double the glass 4+4 bottom and 4+4+deckpatch top…impressive. I imagine its strong as hell compared to a regular PU board. Wonder what the weight would be with half the glass…WOW gotta be REALLY LIGHT. Anyway thats my take on it.

Hey M. Manzi, " But why worry about what the other guy is riding? Believe me, the riders who need hand shapes are already on them, and most of the shaper’s order cards are full already anyway" This amoung other of you blantant assumptions is not only misleading but unfortunately is linked with the kinds of ideas that are not of a positive influence to an evolving industry. There is a place for all the technologies. Ride what you will but when I go down to the surf shop and talk boards none of the good surfers want much to do with a pop-out unless their getting paid to ride it or supplied with them free. I will defend your right to your opinions to the death but I think your full of shit! No Worries, Rich

I wonder if donald mentioned in his interview that these boards are marketed as “stronger and lighter”? Or did he happen to mention that retail personnell, were walking people right past the customs and reccomending a surftech? You see…by capitolizing on cheap overseas labor, and lax environmental restrictions, the boards end up in the shops,with a higher mark-up, therefore are more likely to be reccomended to a beginner who doesn’t know any better. I wonder if the retail people tell their customers that a waist high wave at cardiff could snap one like a gun going off? They are not being marketed as an “alternative”, they are being marketed as “new and innovative” and “way better”. My boss was vaccuum bagging surfboards on hwy 101 in encinitas 30 years ago, at surfboards hawaii. The only difference is the molds,and some car paint and bondo. If that is considered “innovation”… were in trouble. New spin on old ideas, that’s all.

Probably the main reason retailers pushed these boards was the fact they they were able to mark em up more.Boardworks offered some pretty cheap prices if you bought package deals of 50 boards or so.Good old American economics I guess.

…They’re junk!!!Herb

Boardworks/Surftech = 401K for those shapers

Like I said - I’m not sure why it really bothered me - but it did. Take it for what it’s worth ------------------------------------------------------------------------- Look at it this way. If you had dedicated your life to shaping 10,000 to 30,000 boards in your career and Randy French ask you for one or more of your personal models for production, your board numbers could go up by a third. You still have the advantage of producing the same numbers of customs and stock model shapes. Who loses? I’d be stoked for one small advantage in increasing my income, especially if you had control of your design and quality control. I know many people dislike the materials and technology, fine. I personally am not that excited either, but know many people who do, both beginners and avid surfers. A lot of people don’t worry too much what other people think of there choices in boards, and I’m not sure where these boards hurt the industry.

To be realistic, it will probably help the custom board market by identifying excactly what a custom board is. Correct me if i’m wrong, but surfing is, and always has been, about style of each individual. As soon as the beginners start to figure out what surfing is really about…they’ll seek out the local shaper, and get a board made for “them”. Makes for way better conversation! So not much lost there, maybe a board order or 2. My argument is the misleading. I’ve seen boards at barney’s house, painted to look like surtechs. They are not new, or innovative, I know how they are built, and could give you a list of shops building them here in cal. They are expensive, and create the same if not more waste. Windsurfers went this route,20 years ago, and ended up back with polyesters. I don’t believe it is respectful to build a business based on nothing but lies and misconceptions. Surfers should be the first to pick-up on this nonsense. They had one of the biggest booths at the ASR tradeshow. Go figure.

I have no opinion on it. I’ll stay quiet about it. No need for me to stick my foot (I mean) my two cents in. It’s none of my business. Leave me out of it.

Try to enjoy surfing whatever type of surfboard you are interested in and dont get upset at others who choose to ride something that is a little different to your shape. Live and let live.