Friday, April 8, 2011


My friend sent me the snippet below from the Patagonia Catalog.
It struck something within me, see my Dad hand shapes surfboards and has done for over 40 years now.
He's teaching me the art, and I hope to one day show my son or daughter how to make something that glides along a wave and then puts a smile on their face.
The only surfboard we own from overseas was shaped in Hawaii, which is no where near Thailand or China for that matter.
I've never met Fletcher Chouinard, but I'd like too.

I’ve always thought that one of the coolest things about surfing is that there are so many different ways to do it. No two waves are the same and, until recently, no two boards were the same. You can surf the same spot everyday and have a completely different experience every time. Switch boards and it feels like a totally different sport.

With handmade surfboards you never get the same thing twice. They’re impossible to duplicate. There’s a risk you could get a lemon, but there’s also a chance you could get one that’s pure magic. That magic is the feeling when you pick up a board and it just feels right. You plant your feet in the right spot without thinking about it and the board goes where you want it to on the wave – like an extension of your body.

With mass-produced boards there’s little chance for magic. Boards shaped or molded overseas are originally based on a shaper’s best effort, but much can be lost in translation. The boards are finished cheap and quick by people who may be decent craftsman, but don’t surf. There’s a guy in China or Thailand working on your board for less than minimum wage. He just sands the router lines off a computer-shaped blank until it looks clean to his inexperienced eye. There can be an okay pop-out or a bad pop-out, but the chances of a great pop-out are poor.

Handmade, high-quality surfboards are a completely different matter. At every stage of production is an individual that lives and breathes surfing. The shaper has made and tested board after board over the years, learning what works and what doesn’t. He’s read and studied every bit of information he could find about surfboard design. He’s talked to the masters about what they do, and why, every chance he’s gotten. He knows to make the little tweaks here and there that make such big differences. He knows to tuck the rails just right so your board doesn’t get sucked up the face in the tube or constantly catch an edge in the wrong place: The tweaks that give it life and personality. The shaper, the laminator and the sander know, and use, hydrodynamic principles to your benefit. They can, because they surf.

If you love surfing, your surfboard is the most important piece of equipment you own. Technically you could surf with no wetsuit, no leash – you don’t even need a bathing suit – but you need a board. You should have an intimate relationship with something that you depend on for your lifestyle. If your surfboard is your friend, wouldn’t you rather have a friend you can depend on? A friend with individual personality and the ability to stimulate your experience and your mind?

– Fletcher Chouinard

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