Juried contest for Shapers?

Suppose there was a universal contest for surfboard crafters where everything from creativity and art to technical precision and fundamental execution were considered. The ten judge panel was determined by vote from a long list of “the best” ever surfers and board shapers. For boards submitted to such a ficticious contest, what aspects of the board should score the most points and least points (rocker, symetry, rails, finish, you name it)?

Are these the same things that matter the most / least to the general consumer or purchaser of a surfboard?

I am amazed how many “surfers” don’t really have an educated understanding for how the various elements in design affect “the ride”. Even guys that have been surfing for years that talk the tech lingo, surprisingly seem not to really understand, because they so often choose a new board based on a color, fad shape, or one similar to the one they saw Timmy Tenover ride on the video they watched last night.

Aside from those of you who shape only for pros, do you find yourself doing a lot of “educating” to a customer (help change his mind, lead him off what he thinks he wants into what you know he really wants, etc.)? Or is there a lot of shape it his way and shake your head cuz afterall, he’s the customer?

Don’t know if this is a cosmic question regarding the shaper’s integrity and soulful approach to the craft, or if it’s just a marketing or polling question, but is it productive to ask yourself what’s your personal role (purpose) within the big picture of crafting surfboards?

the Jester was often the genius at court. Tho he played the fool he often survied insurection revolution and assination to be the jester viewing the world at a skewed angle reciting blank verse to only those who chose to understand… this is my role…as well as to assist others on their personal quest that is good for now… ambrose… oh yea and obey the scout law

I have always thought about this, the formant could be a required modern short board, longboard and a wild card shape of the entrants choosing. The grand finsh would be the shapers ability to translate these designs into a display of riding them. How about a block of foam, 24" wide, 7" thick, extract a surfboard from it? I’m game!

I’d like to see it, but not just for shapers, the whole process. Call it what you like, but it would have to be an objective and comparative evaluation. The results would speak for themselves.

Commendations could be given for several aspects of the craft - shaping accuracy, glassing accuracy, design and function, strength, finish, artwork, fin design, innovation, etc, etc. On top of that there would have to be different categories for board size, design, weight, materials, etc. The list could go on, best backyarder, best production shaper, best glasser, best sander, best polisher, most innovative, best popout, strongest, lightest, etc, etc.

A small, underground, low production, committed boardmaker who designs and makes his own boards from start to finish, design, shape, glass, fins etc, could take out several awards. But would he get squeezed by the judges because because he has low or no profile? Or does the high profile unit get the nod because he greased his long standing industry mates on the judging panel.

And then again, who would judge? With the discussions of media and industry influence in other threads, it seems it would be quite difficult to find unbiased inspectors with sufficient qualifications. They are out there, I’m sure, but then the question would be, who would choose them?

Maybe this would be when the (new and yet unfounded) union jumps in, setting standards. The union would then have to support something like an independant mechanical testing at a high level composite facility or university. A lot of boardmakers wouldn’t like it, they have survived for this long using their own standard as a measurement.

And who would do the practical surfing test? Of course the high profile industry people would probably get first pickings there, but there are many, many hot surfers out there with more intimate understanding of boards than a lot of pros.

Then again, what’s the point? If surfing goes to the olympics, do all the surfers competing use a standard generic board made by the top qualifiers in each category? Probably not.

Surfing and boardmaking is still a free and open individual expression. I want to see it progress and grow for a long time, not be over regulated and standardised.

I totally agree with Jim Phillips on carving a board out of a block of foam.That will separate the men from the boys real fast.I have watched Jim essentially do just that and it was a sight to behold.

Howzit Jim, We could make it a TV show and call it " The Iron Shapers ". We would bring in shapers from all over the world to give them 3 hours from start to finish.Aloha, Kokua

and three to laminate and sanding is xtra,and three to gloss and pinline and one to polish…whats the point spread- odds …have it in Vegas ambrose… we could bet on…whoever…BASA

Have a “Best of the best” contest…

…Give each contestant a 6-7,and a 9-3 blank .Ask him to build a ??? with his fav tools.

…The catch…Yes,there’s always a catch…you have to shape it blindfolded.Herb

 Howzit Brose, Yep I think I'd put my money BASA, not to many people can do it as fast and at 60 years old. Aloha, Kokua

I vote for no blindfolds, no catches. Keep it simple and pure. Absolutely no sponsors ever, as we know where that would ultimately go. Just a small entrant fee and the finished boards get raffled to cover associated costs. I can already see a full color spread in SJ and other better publications.

Actually, when I first started this post it was intended as a question where I was more interested in the philosophical answers about shaping from the soul (the mom, dad, flag and meaning of life thing), but now you guys have this going. I could see this going off big.

Serious, a real contest that would bring all shapers together annually. Invite the "down under boys too eh? Swaylocks could host a symposium - a roundtable discussion on the “state of the art” in shaping. Host clinics for beginners, share ideas, etc. Just an actual face to face extension of this site. An annual gathering for shapers with the crown event being the jurried shaping contest. Ok,who and where to start for the First Annual for 2005?

A name for the event: “Shapequest” or “Shapemasters 2005” I vote for for the latter, afterall, the winner is THE master (if the pipe boys don’t mind the spin-off, but hey, everybody has a “masters” of some kind. The underlying purpose of the whole deal would be to perpetuate the art / craft and to raise the bar for anyone and everyone involved in or just has a passion for the soul of surfing.

I’m sure this is an old idea with a new twist, but as an old-school guy with roots in the 60s, I have no knowledge of a major event of this form. Start small, keep it pure, simple, professional, and classy. Plan, walk, then run. What say you guys? I’ll volunteer time and ideas if wanted or be stoked watching you guys go with it.

Richard Mc

Enjoy the ride!

OK…who is gonna judge it???I say forget the "design"aspect and get right down to the nitty gritty with calipers,rules,water levels etc. and see who can make one symetrical and consistant.My vote would be for Mr.Guenther (and you better call him “Sir”) who is 80 years old and a retired ultra precision German Tool and Die maker.He is a cranky old dude and I can hear it now…“Ya Dat piece of chit is a thousands off on da left side…and tisted like a fockin Bavarian Pretzel.Where de hell did you go to school eh?Hand me beer and get da fock outta da shop!”

…Feelin’ for the shape is overrated…Herb

hey if this thing goes off i’ll be in the front row. make sure you make it as visible as possible. if this thing happens and i miss it i’d be bummin’ hard!

OOOoo Ha ha ha!!! Can anyone explain/prove that exacting details make or break a board… I have lots of respect for those of you who do make and finish boards to a level of visual perfection, but, I’ve said it before, and I’m saying it again, can you prove it matters, 'cuz I got plenty empirical evidence says it don’t.

Keep up the good work - and don’t judge me to harshly - I would love nothing more than to be educated in the hydrodynamics of, say, the need for symmetry.

There is beauty in symetry, plastic surgeons make a huge living out of it. Planes are symetrical from centre to wingtip for very obvious reasons, boats too.

But the last thing I’m thinking about while surfing is symetry. I stand asymetically and the waves are asymetrical. My toes are on one rail, my heels on the other, so the pinpoint perfect symetry of the board is irrelevant.

Perhaps one criteria for this hypothetical shape-off might be symetry, but I’ll bet nearly everyone is more interested if the board goes or not, and the next thing to enhance performance would probably weight and strength.

I reckon they should try and shape a single board that can be used with any fin configuration, for any weight surfer, for any size and condition waves.

Everyone would love it of course, and everyone else would try and copy it. But what’s next on the judges tick list is anyones guess.

TaylorO, this is how I see it, there are MANY substandard boards being ridden to the highest degree of performance by talented surfers. Natural athletic ability proves this, Bill Bahne and Tony Channin talked about a board in the 60’s that everyone loved the way it rode, it just had this big ol’ god awful twist. They re-did the board, sans twist, it didn’t ride the same. On the other side of the coin is, if a shaper isn’t able to shape a symmetrical board, how can he shape into it the qualities that he feels makes it work? If you do not have COMPLETE control of your tools you ARE not a competent enough shaper to consistently deliver the goods. I know this will draw a lot of flack, here I am leading with my chin again!

actually, not ALL airplanes are symmetrical from centerline to wingtip – for example Bert Rutan has built a beautiful one called the Boomerang, there is a picture of it at:


I also wanted to point out that there is a shaper’s challenge at SA 2004, with everyone invited to shape a 9’1" Y blank & they will all be compared… no formal judging, and not starting with a block of foam – but it’s somewhat related to the proposal in this thread…

Keith, very interesting, thanks, I’d never seen or heard of that one. I guess I’ll take back my ‘all’ statement. Make that ‘nearly all’.

Have fun at SA 2004.

Jim, you are correct. I have seen a lot of hack shapers shape a lot of so called magic boards. But the true talent lays in the shaper who knows why they are “magic” and can duplicate the same “magic” over and over. There is no magic to shaping, just a harmony between the board and rider that is hard to find. A true shaper asks himself, “why does this board work so well…” instead of dismissing the board as magic. -Carl

True craftsmanship is based on being able to adhere to exact dimensions. I would like to see a “set of plans” with dimensions at specific points (lenght, width, thickness at specified points) and the one that comes closest wins. It would be interesting to see how simular or disimular the boards turn out.