The Four Most Influential Surfboard Designers
In the world of surfing, the people charged with the responsibility of creating and designing surfboards are called shapers. Shapers have to build innovative designs that continually push the envelope to deliver high end and quality surfboards to all types of surfers regardless of their surfing styles, prowess or the surfing conditions that they may encounter. So in a large way, surfboard shapers are considered the custodians of surfing because not only do they chisel away to produce the best possible product for you, they also shape the ever-growing sport.
To the average person, one surfboard looks like every other surfboard, but to seasoned surfers, the smallest variations in design are noticeable. In surfing, changes such as millimeters or fractions of millimeters matter because they have the potential to alter the course of design and the materials used in production. The relationship that a surfer shares with his or her surfboard typically defines the love affair with the sport and sadly, most individuals tend to quit at the beginning due to bad experiences and because of the wrong board. The best shapers through time have developed their own skills and techniques that are easily identifiable.
If you want to pursue a board design job as well, then don’t just read designer books or go to websites with top ratings for drills and screwdrivers. You need specialized education, specialized tools, and unique skills to succeed in a job like this, so you need to give it some time (Rome wasn’t built in a day either).
Anyway, without much further ado and to warm you up for the job, we bring you four shapers who reshaped the face of surfing as we all know it today.
1. Rusty Preisendorfer
Rusty is among the most revered surfboard shapers. His definitive R logo that is found in all his board is easily recognizable, and it has become a symbol of quality craftsmanship among many in the sport. Rusty has attained much of his notoriety because he crafts his boards with his bare hands. His boards have the perfect blend of aesthetic beauty, accuracy, and practicality.
2. Al Merrick
Al Merrick has created boards for some of the greatest surfers in the sport such as Kelly Slater. Al has a real passion for the sport and he strives to work alongside surfers and test pilots such as Rob Machado and Malloy Bros to produce boards that are worthy of champions.
3. Allan Byrne
Allan Byrne is one of the most gifted craftsmen and is well known for his innovative hand-shaped channel bottom boards. For most of his life, Allan traveled to various areas of the world perfecting his designs until his death in 2013.
4. Ben Aipa
Originally from Hawaii, Ben Aipa has racked up a reputation for himself for producing the iconic Sting surfboard and swallowtail designs. Ben Aipa’s craftsmanship comes from years of experience as a top competitor in the early 60s and 70s. Ben Aipa has managed to leave a legacy not only in the world but in his family. His oldest son, Akila Aipa, was also quite the competitor and has also become one of the most sought after shapers of this generation.
These 4 aptly-named “shapers” truly reshaped the sport and hobby of surfing as we all know it – and every surfer, or every aspiring shaper for that matter, should not only learn the delicate art of surfboard design and construction, but also the giants on whom the industry was built. And these four are, to our eyes, the Mount Rushmore of shaping.