The best modern all around shapers in America: Two at a time

I have seen just about every good surfboard shaper to come around the bend in America over the last 30 years and sold a few of them in my old shop, but when I think of shapers that are easy to deal with, create beautiful looking surfboards and can shape alot of variety from thick big guy boards (that hide the thickness) to surfboards for pro rippers; Greg Pautsh is one of the names that seem to stick around.

I started dealing with Pautsh back in the late eighties and have never had or seen one single surfboard he shaped that was not a beauty to look at and surfed good to boot. I always got positive feedback from those who bought Pautshs from me.

Greg is one of those shapers alot of other shapers know about, but you rarely see mentioned in the magazines, though him and Geoff Mccoy’s old partnership lit the Newport World back in the early eighties under the Mccoy label.

Greg can shape single fins, zaps, twin fins, four fins and mondern day thrusters, but if you see one of his typical modern shortboards or single wing swallowtail you will be seeing one of the prettiest modern surfboard outlines in production.

Pautsh does not shape near as much as he used to, but still stays tuned with a loyal following of surfers who have no concerns about label and simply want a functional surfboard that works. Pautsh does take awhile to get boards out, but they are worth the wait.

Another great shaper who is fairly well known among todays pro surfers is Jeff Bushman. Much like Pautsh, Jeff’s boards are truly works of art and function as well as any surfboard made in America. Jeff is another really nice guy thats easy to work with and will stand behind his product. Go to Hawaii and ask many a pro who they trust to shape their big wave boards and your going to hear Bushy’s name thrown around quite a bit.

Jeff’s reputation as a big wave board builder is certainly well known, but one of the things many on mainland American do not know, is he also shapes great boards for mushy waves as well. Again like Pautsh one of the stand out things about his boards are how smooth his shapes look, while working really really well.

It’s funny that today in the world of hype and promotion of surfboards most of the kids wanting to rise up the ladder of performance dream of being sponsored by Merrick, Rusty, or Lost, while two of the nation’s best come in under the radar and stay clear of the limelight right under their noses.

This post is simply a dedication to those shapers who have paid their dues and remain the best whether fame finds them or not. There are many who know regardless. I will add more later and feel free to add some of your own.

These are two shapers to keep in mind when looking for a magic surfboard and want someone easy to work with.

Give them your height and weight and tell them the waves you want to surf and allow them to work their magic.

Next: Hybrid and performance longboard shapers you may or may not know.

Over the span of years that I’ve had the pleasure, and privilage, to observe a great many surfboard shapers, only a handfull really stand out as DESIGNERS, THINKERS, CRAFTSMEN, and SURFERS. Several are now dead. Others are now retired from the craft. What these men have in common, beyond the obvious, is that they all have an understanding of what really makes a board work. One of that small group of men that have my RESPECT, is still in the trenches. Or in the shaping room if you will. There will never be agreement as to who should be included on a list of the best. But that list however long or short would be incomplete without Mr. Jim Phillips on it. I’m a very hard guy to impress, but Jim impresses me with his skill level in the above four catagories. I tip my hat to him.

I was going to include Jim in another post later. I agree. Certainly no one or two are THE best. This post is tribute the best of them out there and let those that follow this site have a few names to try out in the future. In the era of popouts, the shaper designer is still where it all begins.

[=1][=Black][ 4]I totally agree with your statements and I would like to add some of my own, throughout my shaping career, although self-taught, I’ve been by and fortunate enough to learn from shapers that I have looked up to, such as Wayne Rich, Pat “Gumby” Ryan, and being able to watch Phil Becker move with the Porta-Cable monster with ease. I have been influence by great shapers like Ben Aipa (For the stinger), Bill Barnfield (For learning how to measure and map a surfboard) Dick Brewer, Pat Rawson, Pat Curren and John Caper (For their knowledge and skill taking the big waves boards to where they are today). Bing Copeland (I ripped the glass off one of his boards in the early 80, I wish I would have kept it, Sorry Mr. Copeland). Haps Jacob, (For his 422 model which I really like). I enjoy finding an old board shaped by Noll, Brewer, Bing, Weber, or any shaper of the good old days and look over the surfboard step by step. Since the concept of shaping surfboards is constantly being reinvented and advanced, I feel strongly that it is important to remain open-minded and also to give and receive input from other shapers. The materials that are being used today, were thought of years ago, we just didnt have the means of understanding how to put everything together, We are now making hollow boards that have aircraft foil inserts, boards are now lighter then before. [/][/]

There are Many Many great craftsmen out there, I dont really want to use the word “shaper” Because they are more then that. They are true craftsmens!! [/]

My nominations would be Ben Aipa and Cort Gion. Ben has been such and inspiration to me in the few short years that I’ve known him. When I told him that I had shaped the board I was riding he was very incouraging and seemed genuinely stoked for me. He has shaped and coached for the best surfers to ever come out of Hawaii, but never makes you feel below him. Besides being a great shaper, at 64 years old, still RIPS.

Cort Gion must be one of the most underrated shapers of his era. Before moving to Oregon, he had to be one of the better surfer/shapers on the North Shore. He was more than willing to let me watch him shape a board and asked for nothing in return. Like Ben he can shape an old school log or state of the art potato chips. I hear he’s doing pretty good over in Oregon, good luck to you man.

Mike Eaton’s gotta be on the list. He surfed as well as anyone in his day. He’s an extremely versatile shaper, making shorties, logs, bonzers, balsas, and even oddball stuff like the zinger.

Plus there’s the whole paddling thing. He & Joe Bark have like 90% of the world market share in paddleboards. His unlimiteds are all handmade, hand laid. And he’s still paddling the Catalina race (28 miles +/-) into his 60’s.

There’s also the materials thing - his boards are poly & his paddleboards are EPS/epoxy. He’s not at all conflicted about that, nor does he get political in defending either one. Its just all about the boards.

Any other shaper/athlete would have probably been happy with one focus or the other. Eaton can’t be touched in versatility.