Soul at it's best

I thought i would let you guys read this essay by a 15 year old girl from WA. This summer she came down and took a surfboard shaping/glassing lesson with me. This is a essay she did for school. I hope she got a A+ for this. She shaped her first board with me and it came out as nice as any of the pros in the racks at our factory? Let me know what you think and let her know… Rob A essay by Sarah “Support your local Shaper” Imagine a person with no soul, completely devoid of emotion, or anything resembling real life. On the outside, it seems to be a real person, but there’s something about it that tells you there’s no fire inside. This is exactly what a mass-manufactured surfboard is, except it’s not a person. It completely lacks the soul that a shaper puts into each one of his boards, carefully crafting a board, using every skill he possesses. Consider a board created for a surfer to meet his specific needs. When a shaper and surfer work together, they create a board tailored to fit the surfer and the conditions he surfs in every day. The relationship between the shaper and surfer,and their love for the sport, create so much soul in the board. However, mass-manufactured boards are created with dangerous chemicals, made by people being paid almost nothing, who’ve never surfed a wave in their life, and don’t care to. They create many identical boards, not tailored to anyone, forcing a surfer to compromise his needs to get a board that may be a little cheaper and more durable, but lacking so much more; basically, you get a mindless pop-out. When comparing a hand-shaped board and a mass manufatured board, there are many things to consider. One must look at the safety issues, construction methods, who builds the boards,and how much the person(s) making the board cares about the sport. Mass-manufactured board companies cut corners in health and enviromentally safe areas of the board building process. On top of this, the boards are “pop-outs made in Thailand by people who don’t surf, at a days pay that wouldn’t buy you a latte at Starbucks”(rob brown, local shaper,personal interview). To be exact, they make “$3.50 a day and get a free lunch” (dave parmenter). In exchange, these workers are exposed to toxic chemicals and fumes. The type of resin that mass-manufactured board companies use is epoxy resin, which has been known to cause health concerns related to the skin such as rashes. These rashes and skin irritations could be prevented by using more protection, but that protection is one of the many corners that mass-manufactured board companies cut. You also have to look at who is building your board. To me this is best said by Dale Solomonson, who said, “It’s virtually impossible for out-of-area, high-volume builders to consistently surpass a surfcraft which has been thoughtfully designed, built and tuned by skilled artisans who understand the factors necessary in satisfying a specific area’s individual surfers and waves” (dave solomonson). How could someone who doesn’t know a thing about surfing or board building make godd boards? Compare this to your local shaper, who shapes boards to fit the conditions that both the shaper and the customer surf, and the difference is dynamic. For local shapers, living “hand-to-mouth”, who are lucky to make a board a week, it is a “labor of love.” These select shapers love the sport and are dedicated to helping you improve. They don’t make a lot of money, but that’s not even the point. There is the alternative of a mass-manufactured boarad, but where’s the love in that? The third-world country workers don’t care about each surfer; they care about making money to support themselves. If they get paid more when they cut more corners, we don’t know what they’ll do. Plus, we can’t know what they are doing because they aren’t letting people into the factories to see how mass-manufacturing works. If they won’t let us see their work, how can we be sure they’re doing good work? On the other hand, when you work with a shaper, you can sit in their shop and literally watch every move they make. You can choose to change even the smallest detail, like taking 1/16 of an inch off the thickness any day. It’s all geared to fitting you, and only you, and making you, the surfer, as happy as you can possibly be. These local shapers just love seeing you excel on something they made. When I spoke with local shaper, that I know personally, Rob Brown, he said, “the one thing I love is the feeling I get watching my friends smile when they finish a surf and come by just to tell me how stoked they are.” These shapers love their sport. The workers in the manufacturing plants don’t even know anything about the sport. The mass-manufactured surfboard companies are arguing that their product is a good one, and that they have experiencein board building. The problem is that the only boards they have experience building are wakeboards and sailboards. Yes, they are boards but they are nothing like surfboards, so you can’t possibly compare them. The next major thing to consider is how a surfer and shaper work together compared to mass-manufactured boards. Every board that a mass-manufactured company produces comes from a mold. “A mass-manufactured surfboard is a ‘knock-off’ of a single design manufactured for a nonexistent yet ‘typical’ surfer” (Vince,“Hand-shaped boards vs. Mass-Manufactured boards.” Swaylocks Surfboard Design Forum). There are also molds for older models deemed to be “classics”. These “classics” were good, but they are just dragging surfing back to the past instead of helping in progress. When you work with a shaper one-on-one, you can change things when needed. What happens if you buy mass-manufactured boards, but you want your next board to be 1/8" wider and 1/16" thinner? Well then, you have two options. You could just forget abut the adjustments you need and keep buying the same pop out; or you can pay a lot of extra money so that the company will create a whole new mold for the board you want, and then pay for the board. If you do that though, you pay more than you would if you had just ordered a custom board from your local shaper. So why would you go through the hassle of getting a custom from a mass-manufacturing company when you could just walk down the street to your local shaper? It’s cheaper and you can have more hands-on control. Plus, the relationship you gain with your shaper can’t be compared to anything else. A person who knows what you surf, how you surf, and what you need to perform your best can make the best equipment for you. “A custom surfboard is just that. A unique surfboard design, shaped, and glassed for a specific client and their needs. Primary motivation of designer and client is building a surfboard that is the best possible solution for the clients surfing.” (Vince, “Hand-shaped boards vs. Mass-manufactured Boards” Swaylocks Surfboard Design Forum). A mass-manufactured board fits the surfer that isn’t you, but has needs similar to yours. The surf community takes pride in being original and constantly evolving, and always trying to be progressive; how can we do that if we all order a pop-out? All it will do is make the sport stagnant. We will quit being progressive, and only those who continue to shape will see that. Imagine the feeling you might get the first time you ride a new custom-shaped board. It was made well for you. No corners were cut, and materials you trust were used. Mass-manufactured boards won’t give you the same confidence. You won’t know what materials were used or who made it. You also won’t know what affected who, and how the board was made. So when you know virtually nothing about your board, how can you be confident in it? The mass- manufactured boards have many problems with them. The biggest one that comes to mind is the lack of stringer. A stringer down the middle of your board keeps the board from snapping, and the board is further held together by fiberglass. Mass-manufactured boards have no stringer, and the epoxy and fiberglass don’t last. These boards resist dings, but with the lack of a stringer they just snap instead, and the laminate boils off and peels away. This will show you that these materials aren’t good. Stick with your local shaper and get a better board that you can have confidence in. These are just some of the topics that make up the heated argument of local shaper versus the mass manufacturer. When you consider these things, the answer is clear. Compare this with fine art. One participant in an online discussion on the subject, Keith, says, “For me it’s simple- would you rather have a painting by Leonardo da Vinci, or a xerox of it? They are both ‘functional’, but even if da Vinci had invented the xerox he wouldn’t have put down his paint and brush.” (Keith, “Wherein Doth the Soul Reside” Swaylocks Surfboard Design Forum). …Nothing is better than the original made for you. Custom boards perform better, are made by someone who cares,and with better materials. It has more soul than you could hope to imagine because it’s built with respect and love for the sport and its roots. This soul binds the surf community together and keeps the sport alive. If we kill our local shaper, then we kill our sport, and all the progress we’ve made. Support your local shaper. By Sarah Schulte


…it’s like that !!! …Roberto…howzit man,did you see Jason’s fish ? You know where the usual suspects get glassed. Did some midnite fin molding lsst night,didn’t wear my resp.Now my brain is molding,ha ha ha…hope alls good for you,might be on my own soon!!! if you know what I mean ? Looks as though it’s a pirate’s life for me ANYWAY.Goin to check the surf at bowl sack.I’ll try to keep in touch or maybe just burn and turn…who knows certainly not me…LOL.

I loved the essay and have to say that that garbage is supported by the shapers who put their names on the things as well as hyped up surfing magazines. We have been told that boards that don’t float surfers properly are state of the art and any board you see in a magazine must be legitimate. The shops that carry the stuff with an anything for a buck attitude are also responsible. Until the hype is gone from the industry one will simply be replaced by another.

outstanding. Rob can we borrow this for posting on other bb’s? Defintely worth sharing. ed

don’t get me wrong. i thought it was a great article but it was 1-sided cos pop-outs have their advantages, esp in the novice market. When u r learning how to surf 1/16th of an inch is not gonna make a difference and i’ve noticed the trend in other bb’s of people who started on a pop-out who now want to move to the next level in surfing and want to get a custom shape. i’ve been surfing for six and a half years and i’ve surfed/owned all types of surfboards (microchips, twinzers, singlefins, longboards, mini-mals, guns) but i only recently got a custom shaped board and it has been such an awesome experience. from my first wave this board was just so loose, so fast… the shaper called me up after a few weeks to see how the boards going? So, there will always be that magical connection between a surfer and a custom stick…

Ed go for it. Sarah would be stoked. I would say just let her know by E-mail where.

She did a good job but I have to agree with weskus_surfer, the article is definitely one-sided. Plus the statements on epoxy aren’t facts, but opinions stated as facts. As well are most of the statements on working conditions overseas and corporations. Granted she is 15. When it comes to surfboards and just about every other product, people are going to buy the product they feel is the “best” for them. And each person defines what is “best” differently. For me, I am at the point that a custom shaped board from a local shaper is the “best” option. But everyone is different. As for “pop-outs” possibly causing surfboard design to regress or stagnate, I strongly disagree. I mean honestly, the only major new development in surfboards in the last ten years IS the rise of the overseas industry. If anything, the competition might serve to light a fire under a few shapers out there to get back to creating again, instead of just “tweaking”.

Recently watched “Pacific Vibrations” again. There are a couple classic scenes of Chuck Dent. Although the movie was made a long time ago, I can’t help but feel that maybe he tells it like it was (is)… Announcer: "And now a word on reality from your neighborhood surfboard dealer, Chuck Dent. Chuck Dent: "If I take a guy, if a guy comes down and he gets good enough, he can ride a Chuck Dent surfboard. I give him a free board. He goes from there, maybe I’ll give him a job. He gets really good, I’ll even go to the point of featherbedding - making a job when it’s not necessary. He can make money. He can work his own hours. He can surf in the morning, lay on the beach. He can work at night. He’s paid by piecework. He shapes a surfboard, he gets what? $12-$15 a board. He does it in an hour. That’s a LOT of money for a guy that can lay around on the beach, man… talk to the chicks, things like that. You can’t compare surfing or surfing contests… you can’t compare it in a business way or any other way. It’s an entirely different trip all together. (Cut to Dale Velzy who describes the good old days) Dale Velzy: “A dollar was a dollar and a wave was a wave.” (cut to shop scene with Chuck Dent, Bill Hamilton and (?)Steve Bigler) Bill Hamilton: I’m working on a board right now that can handle 4 or 5 different waves under different conditions… hollow, mushy, whatever. Chuck Dent: (sneering) "There’s no such thing as a perfect board. Any manufacturer that advertises that has got to be sick. There’s just no such thing. The minute I take a picture of a board and say, “This is our answer for the summer”… it’s ridiculous because they’re already changing. We can’t be personal on every board. You know, a guy can’t put “soul” in every board. It’s ridiculous… we’ve got to MAKE MONEY. As heavy as like, Hamilton is, what he rides… There’s still, uh… you can’t… not everybody’s gonna jump on it right away. You’ve (the surfboard consumer) got to be programmed and groomed and led into it easy. They’ve got to watch him ride it. I’ve got to rap to 'em. Randy has to rap to 'em. It’s a combined effort if you’re gonna push it. It’s almost now… what it’s come to is a Madison Ave advertising program. This (Hamilton) is “Mr. Pipeline”… we’ve coined that name for him now for advertising purposes. Also, because he lives right there. You know, either side of it… lefts, rights, Rocky Pt. (Hamilton appears a bit stressed at this point as (?)Steve Bigler cuts in and smooths things over…) (?)Steve Bigler: Billy’s got the juice. (?)Steve Bigler & Chuck Dent: “Right in his backyard is literally IT.”