My first introduction to surfboard style and class was at the hungry age of 15.  From Florida, I was the grommet visiting my older professional longboarder friends in Southern California, who all rode for Donald Takayama.  I had broken the longboard I brought out for the summer, so they asked DT if he’d lend me a board.  He put me a 9’0 Gypsy Model and that summer I really learned what noseriding was.   After my first day at the Bu, experiencing the hectic crowd, I got run over by a guy and took a big chunk out of the rail.  Devastated, I had my tail between my legs as I dialed Donald’s number from the pay phone.  I was calling to tell him that I had dinged the board, but he giddily started off the conversation with, “how do you like the board?!”  I honestly said, “well, it’s the best board I’ve ever ridden.”  “Take it home with you then,” he said, so I never told him about the ding…  Donald went on to shape boards for me for the next 10 years until he passed.  I learned about supreme design from longboards to old school shortboards, but mostly he taught me about Aloha, the art of giving, and how powerful being Excited can be.  I think about DT daily, he’s an angel, and forever a surf style inspiration.   My goal now, is to do my best to copy the boards he made me myself, so that I can keep his hanging on my walls forever.

A few years ago on the North Shore, I was looking for a new place to rent.  At the same time, I kept having these visions of finding an old single fin swinging under a house. Weeks later, I was invited to join new friends at their home.  They asked me to move in on the spot, and also told me that there were some cool boards under the house that I may be interested in.  Just as in my vision, there it was, an early 70’s 6’6 single fin, beak nose, super down rail, and quite the flat bottom. I was in love at first sight.  My first session on it was at 6-8 ft perfect Sunset, the west bowl was firing.  Joel Tudor was about to paddle out, and I went over to him, seeking his approval if he thought it would be a good day to test drive the old guy.  He said, “sure, fin looks a little small (just over 5 inches!!) , but stay low and you’ll be fine.”  I caught 5 waves and had one of the best Sunset sessions of my life.  I was amazed with the board. Very curious about where it came from, I scraped off the dirty wax, to see the faded label, Islands Surfboards shaped by Dave Ronk.  I looked around for information on him, but didn’t find any off the bat.  I ended up making a short film from the board’s point of view called Peanut Butter.  Somehow, the internet brought it to the eyes of Dave’s colleagues and family.  I learned that Dave Ronk was a hero.  After shaping on the North Shore through the 70’s and 80’s, he became a Honolulu Police Officer, and was shot and killed on duty in ’87.   I’ve received messages from his friends, officers that worked with him, officers that work now and revere Dave as their department hero, I’ve also heard from his sister and brother, who are now caring for Dave’s wife.  The film touched their hearts because of the love of the board that I expressed.   This board changed my life.  It made me realize that spirit carries on in material items, especially art, that when we express love, it generates more love, that Old Boards, are Great Boards.   Peanut Butter is still my favorite board, because of the ride, and also the soul.

I’ve admired Ashley Lloyd since I first saw her when I was 15, for her impeccable surfing grace as well as her shaping.   I’ve never seen another female surf with switch stance ability as smoothly as she does.  Seemlessly, with such feminine style, her ability to dance up and down a log is pure delight. She’s been shaping for a long time now, and is extremely talented with creating masterpieces out of foam.   Last year was the first time I got to ride one of her boards.   She let me borrow a 9’10, which at first I was a bit reluctant, as I had only ridden up to a 9’5 log.  She said, “Trust me, it wont feel that long”.   I had the best longboarding sessions of my life on that board.  Elevator hang 10’s in the pocket, holding them for longer than I’ve ever been able to, I quickly realized that she was right about the board.  Of course.   A surfer/shaper is always in tune, and a woman?!  Even more so!!   I could feel Ashley’s love and energy in the board, and that too, made the ride feel exceptional.  I am excited to ride more of her creations, and just as excited to watch her ride them as well.   As a woman, I hold her in highest regard.

Like the rest of the entire surf community, I’ve been a fan of Gerry Lopez for as long as I can remember.  Once I started riding mid-length single fins and discovering the ‘soul arch’ in my own surfing, I quickly realized that if there is one surfer I want to emulate style, it would be him, because it always looks, to me, like he is speaking with the wave.  Life magically brought our lives connected, and I’ve been blessed to spend great time in the shaping bay watching Gerry shape.  What I have learned the most, is that the key to efficiency, is meditative, thoughtful, slow but precise movements.  I’ve not seen him make a mistake, because every move he makes has purpose and thought behind it, with a lifetime of shaping experience to go along with it.  He knows his tools and just how he likes to use them, which allows him to always arrive at the result he is looking for.  The board’s he has shaped for me are nothing short of amazing and are enhancing my surfing every time I ride them. 

A 8’0 Sunset Gun, I asked him to make me what he would have shaped himself for sunset back in the 70’s, with a bit wider of a belly.  We went 21” wide, so it rides incredible in both small and huge waves.  Another is a 6’2, down rail step up shortboard, with a TON of rocker from the bottom. I’ve ridden a different setup almost every session with it, with a 2 + 1 fin box set up.   It’s my barrel board now, I plan on getting super tubed on it!   My goal is to ride the boards as he would, so I’ve got quite the mission on my hands!   I bear witness that passion keeps you young, and that mastery in anything stems from that passion.  


I met Glenn Minami just once, probably in 1988. He made me a pair of step-up boards (except nobody said “step-up” back then), neither of which were quite right, and I sold them both the following year. No big deal, I was living in San Clemente at the time, and only needed bigger boards for the two or three weeks I was in Hawaii. In 1991 I moved to San Francisco, and quickly found out I needed not just a gun or two, but a whole rack of guns, because from Fall to Spring the surf often had North Shore power and size. The first month I was in San Francisco, I broke two boards. Some friends of mine in SF were big on Minami’s boards and, luckily for me, were ordering in bulk, and I was able to pry a couple of guns off their quivers each year. This is where the story gets a little embarrassing. I’d always been picky and obsessive and no doubt annoying in terms of getting boards. Had to be in the room when it was shaped, breathing down my shapers’ neck, calling out measurements, being a pain in the ass. And despite my efforts, or probably because of my efforts, two out of three boards were rejects. But these second-hand Minamis I started picking up from my friends in San Francisco? Incredible. I bought around ten of Glenn’s boards throughout the 1990s, from 6’ 6” to 8’ 2”, all narrow roundpins with glass-on fins, and every one of them was amazing. Two or three were magic. I was devastated when they’d break, then I’d cheer up because whatever Glenn was doing at the time—bottom curve and thickness distribution—was perfectly suited to my way of riding, and all I had to do was drive over to my friends’ house, beg them to cut loose another board, and wave the checkbook around. Bang, another magic stick. Then something happened around 2000. The rocker was different in the blanks Glenn was getting, or he’d changed his bottom contouring just a bit, who knows. But all of a sudden the new boards weren’t working for me. I finally got in touch with Glenn directly and explained what was happening, and how I needed the boards to be like the ones he’d made two or three years earlier. Glenn was right there with me, totally agreeable, understood what I was looking for. A few weeks later a few board arrived. Didn’t work. Then another, same thing. And another. Glenn’s boards were better than ever for other guys, but not for me. It was over. It was heartbreaking. I grubbed around and managed to find a few decent guns over the next decade or so, but nothing like the Minami’s I’d had in the 1990s. I was disappointed for a long time; now I’m just incredibly grateful that this strange unspoken thing with Glenn clicked into place at all, and lasted as long as it did.


Nick Carroll with his addition to the pantheon:

I’m fascinated by the surfer/designer interaction and what springs from it. You could compare it to other things, but that is a shit way of describing anything.
The first shaper who taught me things was Ron Wade. Ronny was based in Mona Vale, near where I lived on Sydney’s northern beaches. He was not a fashionable or cool person at all, just a straight up working man who was very good with his hands and built excellent surfboards. I didn’t really have a clear idea of where I was going with surfing but fucken hell, I was only 17 at the time, you just want to surf! Ron made me the first boards on which I had real competitive success, then his business copped a thrashing in the recession of 1979 and he quit surfboard making for many years. I used to be a bit worried in a teenage way that he wasn’t all that cool of a name in surfing, until Col Smith told me, “Ron Wade’s one of the best boardmakers you’ll ever see.” In the end he let me go with some good advice as to where to look for my next boards, and I realized he WAS cool.
Terry Fitzgerald made me the first boards that actually spoke to me — told me where I wanted to go on waves. Fuck, he made me some gems. One 5’8” Drifta on which I won an Australian title. Heaps of beautiful pintails and Sunset guns. A 5’10” double wing round pin with a weird little single concave through the center bottom where everyone else had those shit belly channels. That board was so purely fast, it forced me to admit that going fast was my primary surfing urge. Like, fast lines drawn directly, getting the timing down right. That was early 1984. In December that year I saw Al Byrne a lot at Sunset, we surfed a heap together. Al’s six channels had always caused me to stop and gaze like a hungry dog. One day we were getting out of the water at Val’s Reef and Al said, “Man we’ve gotta get you on some channels.” My heart lifted like surfing’s never quite made it lift before or since. I rode AB’s channels and nothing else for nearly a decade and just totally found myself as a surfer. Al is no longer with us but I still have a full killer quiver of them - 5’9” to 8’1”, all hard, unforgiving, incredible surfboards.
I first surfed with Maurice Cole not all that long after he got out of jail in 1978. We just instantly clicked as surfers, had very much the same thoughts and feelings about it and about the kinds of lines we wanted to put on waves. I hardly saw him for years, he went to live in France for one thing, but then got back in contact a little bit before he and Tom Curren went crazy with their magic quivers in 1990. In mid-1996 he sent two boards over from France, one for me and one to deliver to Kelly Slater - I was living in CA at the time. They were peas in a pod those boards - deep single concaves, slight vee entry, slight vee exit, narrow swallowtails - and they weren’t just stupidly fast, they turned on a dime. (Kelly won two events in a row on his and shut down the world title that year.) Maurice’s fantastically direct approach to board design really appeals to me, and his feel for how curves work is unparalleled in my experience. His boards allow me to surf at close to full tilt even as I enter the back half of my 50s.



This year's slightly expanded promotional material is gratefully inspired by Experimental Jetset's 2001 work "John Paul Ringo George" for 2k/Gingham.

In the years since it's presentation, the design has become something of a meme, parodied and celebrated countless times. 

This is a nod of the cap to those guys and their amazing, geniusly repurposable layout.



Mick Sowry on his addition to the pantheon:

In the midst of the god’s I’ll make a play for the rest of us.

Oddly enough, the most formative shapers have been more recent than early with a couple of exceptions. Most recently, are two, in Maurice Cole, and Corey Graham. Maurice’s presence extends over forty years though, as we first met back in 1972, when I was 18, as was he, in the beginnings of his shaping career. One board back then, but that began a friendship that grew organically and most recently since 2006 though we crossed paths in France in 1986, and on his return to Victoria in the late 2000’s.

Following that one early board from Maurice I became the shop grommet for legendary Victorian shaper Mick Pierce, who shaped me several epic boards that I loved, each helping me progress in understanding and range. 

I rode my biggest wave in my first ten years on a 7’2’ Eastern Light (Mick's brand @easternlight on Instagram) and that was at Nazare in 1978. Twelve foot but we thought it was eighteen. God help us if it had been what we now know it can become.

Later I switched to Kym Thompson, Maurice, Greg Brown and Wayne Lynch, all connected and working within a circle of West Coast shapers who influenced each other and in doing so had a profound effect on surfers here and worldwide.

Kym shaped a couple of channel bottom 5’8”s in the early 80’s that worked wonderfully in a surprising range, with very memorable tubes at Lacerations on Lembongan and a near close out wave at Shipwrecks at near 10ft that had all those who saw the take off wonder if I’d lived.  

Greg Brown is still one of the great shapers in the Torquay area. He is a go to guy for boards that are both trustworthy and at the same time full of personality. Not something that comes from a reliance on machine shaping. 

Wayne became a great friend and shaped some divine mid length guns for ‘down south' through the nineties, and early 2000’s before I reconnected with MC in 2007 around the time the waiting period to get a board off Wayne extended from weeks to months, such is the demand.

MC’s boards, like Wayne’s, have been highly influential on some of surfing’s greats. My introduction to his very-technical-to-ride deep concave asymmetrics had me re-looking at how to approach a wave at a time when I though I was done with any progression. The boards are fast, wonderfully on rail in their predisposition and you need to think to ride them, but they deliver more satisfaction when on song than almost any board I have ridden. Or you can be bucked of if you get it wrong. 

Most recently, on a particular Corey Graham single channel 5’8' fish, I have been privilege to feelings and sounds I’ve never heard before. In itself, at 62, that is a privilege too. It has been a lucky life to still be able to surf a board like that after 47 years of surfing, though my performance the other day at 8 foot Bells after ten days out of the water shows there is still plenty of room for improvement.


Tom Wegener's thoughts on the pantheon:

I look for the initiators of change.  Those who’s boards and surfing change the way we see ourselves riding waves and, really, who we are as surfers.  Tom Blake brought surfboards into the modern era by utilizing plywood with lightness as a goal.  But he did much more. He was a lone wanderer or a beach bum.  He had deep thoughts proclaiming Nature = God. He created the image of surfers as counter culture.

Gerry Lopez mesmerized us with grace at the pipe.  He shaped boards which set him deep in the pocked with control. But he was also an astute business man with Surfing Magazine and Lightning Bolt clothing.  He was a savvy guru who may have created the mental mold behind the creation of the he homogeneous big three.

Donald Takayama was a great shaper, but equally he was a mentor to hordes of other shapers and surfers.  His generosity was legendary. For example, he threw many hundreds of beach and shop BBQs which brought many threads of surfing together. Donald largely weaved the tapestry of surfing today.

Ryan Burch smashed the divide between longboarding and shortboarding.  The two schools were at war even after the Joel Tudor years.  Burch on the Lord Board and alaias made the shortboarders look like longboarders. Then Burch on his 14’11 glider makes the longboarders look like shortboarders.  He shapes his own boards and has made the old divide insignificant.  He is humble yet excels at surfing and shaping.  He has set a new bar for what a person can achieve in surfing.


Happening over at the Board Porn Instagram... conversations about TSJ's (purported) 10,000 Board Rule.


Jamie Brisick on his addition to the pantheon:

The first board that got me thinking about design was a McCoy Lazor Zap I got in 1980. Needle nose, wide point back from center, super wide tail -- it was almost tear drop shaped. It lacked drive but it could dance around the pocket, and it got me thinking about how boards dictate wave riding approach. The McCoy philosophy was about surfing tight to the pocket, turning under the lip, and I remember a frontside snap in what felt like the tube at Four Mile in Santa Cruz, a weightless feeling that I have yet to recover from. 

Then I started riding Al Merrick's which were less radical, more all-rounder, there was drive and forward momentum, the lip was not something you'd delicately kiss it was something you'd attack, sometimes having to slow down to stay in the wave (this was pre-aerial, we didn't want to leave the wave). Al and his boards really got me thinking about how shapers, like artists, pour their ideas and philosophies into their boards. Al was not a fad-follower, he was no-nonsense, he was full of integrity. I'm not sure I could ever like a surfboard from a person I didn't personally like, there's a lot of juju in a surfboard, a lot of spirit and mana.


Derek Hynd on his addition to the pantheon:

"These are the shapers that evolved one person's surfing. Ideas may have been provided but there were things improved, found, in the translation. Col Smith, very deep concaves through a long twin fin with the fins just above 4 inches tall and sitting much further back. Terry Fitzgerald, translating his ideas of the Col twinny but knifing up the rails, flattening the bottom, to retain most of the speed whilst delivering quicker response in the turns. Ronnie Woodward, bringing both the past boards over those four years into the magic board that got me into some serious rankings - the speed and precision of a twinny without any hint of drift. And Hank Warner who built the best semi gun I ever owned, 6'9"and so dependable the way in its pivots. I guess these four boards sum up the first part of a career."