Why custom?

For all of you that make custom fins, boards, surf mats, etc… Why should someone buy custom? If someone came to you and asked, “what are the benefits”? What would you tell them? I am having a custom fin made and I sometimes wonder why. Will I see the benefit of it down the rode? Will I gain an appreciation for it once I actually use it? The reason I am asking this is beacuse a friend asked me why I was paying more to have someone make something for me custom when I could save money buying off of the shelf. I honestly didn’t know what to say to him…

If you have specific requirements on color, performance, or material (i.e. wood or glass) then a custom fin makes sense. However, if what you want is a proven design, there are a lot of them out there. Most surfers have opinions on fin performance, and will usually tell you the ones they’ve tried and hated or tried and loved.

I also mean “Why Custom?”, including boards, mats, etc…not just fins…

If you can find a shaper who will shape a board that YOU want, not just what he wants to give you, then there are many good reasons to go custom. One example: an older surfer I know had a board shaped with lots of extra nose rocker so he wouldn’t pearl, and extra thickness so he could catch waves better. You may have reasons for a particular shape that makes sense for you, or you may want a completely unique color scheme. I think it’s worth it to pay a little extra for that.

…You can’t get what I make ANYWHERE ELSE!Herb

I would not agree that custom is more expensive…in fact, I truly believe a custom board to be less expensive and you are not paying for overhead on a shop for an item that is made hundreds if not thousands of miles away. Secondly, as stated above, you can add refinements to a board that YOU want (i.e., like the nose rocker or thickness or width or tail type or ad infinitum). As for me, I will never have anything but a custom made board…I’m telling you it shouldn’t cost any more.

I don’t know anyone who buys boards off the rack. Most people that have been surfing for a while don’t bother with rack boards. They know what they want. And like Herb, You can’t get what I make in a shop.

Rack boards, or stock boards, certainly have a valid place among surfers of any experience levels. The primary benefit is in trying a “new” size or design - a departure from what a surfer is used to. If you’ve never ridden a single fin longboard (for one example only) but wonder what one is like, it makes more sense to spend $600 for a stock and proven design than $750 for a custom. Investigate a couple of stock boards in a certain class and then you have built a knowledge base to explore in the custom realm. Or if you only get a new board once every few years, going stock is like buying something proven.

Now, having said that, if you have been getting boards from from a custom or limited run shaper, there certainly is nothing wrong with staying with the person even in the circumstances I described. People who keep their overhead low by building to order might not have “stock”. The rough equivilent in that situation is just telling the shaper what you want to try and letting him or her make what they think is best. I would offer that this isn’t getting the fullest benefit of a “custom” shape, being almost literally without input from you, but the same overall effect is achieved in the end. That’s it…I’m thinking too much again…

Brian, For many (maybe most?) surfers, a well made, proven stock design is a reasonable option, IF the right board/fin(s) are chosen… and IF theyre available. But at some point, a surfer may become more discerning and want to experiment with some of their own ideas... and they may want to develop a working relationship with a custom shaper whos able to carefully listen and then translate those concepts into something special. The surfer-shaper synergy is an anomoly… and unfortunately, it seems that few understand and appreciate what that means. Few too are the other aspects of modern life that offer the unique opportunity to create such personally functional equipment. What would it will cost to have a custom set of golf clubs made, a custom sailboard or snowboard? In regards to what I build, there are no comparable stock products anywhere, nor anyone else in the world who offers the accumulated knowledge, experience and skill to create true custom, high end surf mats. When all factors are considered, it`s my opinion that the finest quality custom surfcraft are usually worth far more than that which they end up costing the consumer. So when a friend asks why you “paid more” to have someone make something for you custom, when you could save money by buying off of the shelf… you just tell them about what an incredible deal you actually received. Dale