Recently in beautiful Del Mar, Hobie surfboards along with Ice-Nine Foam Works sponsored the Sacred Craft consumer surfboard expo dedicated to memory of one of surfing’s most well-known and influential surfboard shapers Mike Diffenderfer. Though Diffenderfer gained recognition and legendary status for his clean shapes and Hawaiian big wave surfboards he got his start in southern California’s San Diego.
Showing off their creations to a packed house of surfers and non- surfers alike were master shapers from the west to the east. Wind surfboard pioneer Ed Angulo flew in from the North Shore of Maui to promote his new line of stand up paddle surfboards. Paddle surfing, where a surfer catches a wave standing up using a paddle, is becoming popular across the nation not just along both coasts but also along inland lakes, ponds, rivers and other waterways.
Judging the shape off were two long time shaping masters John Kies of Encinitas surfboards and Steve Pezman founder of Surfer’s Journal.
Master surfboard shapers garnish worldwide recognition amongst many hardcore surfers. If there is a great surfboard shaper in California they hear about it from Hawaii to Brazil and everywhere there are surfers and waves in between. Perhaps the world’s most famous surfboard shaper is Santa Barbara’s Al Merrick who along with ever-progressive Lost surfboard’s Matt Biolos gave informative talks on 21st century manufacturing techniques. Merrick may know a thing or two about the future of surfboard manufacturing if his past record is any reflection. More professional surfing championships have been won using Al Merrick’s Channel Island surfboards than any othr.
Manufacturing techniques have certainly come a long way from a few years ago. In the past all you needed to professionally shape a surfboard were some simple tools and a little know how. Professional surfboard shaping and construction is a lot more sophisticated now days and can involve computers, machines, and molds as well as uses and application of a wide variety of space age materials. Where as 99 percent of surfboards in the past were produced by hand perhaps only 1 percent will be in the future. But rest assured as long as there are real surfers there will always be a real demand for high quality hand shaped surfboards. When it comes to mass -producing surfboards the value of quality hand craftsmanship goes up not down.
It seems fitting that the Sacred Craft surfboard expo was held in San Diego County home of one of the most respected shapers of all time Mike Diffenderfer and some of if not the world’s best contemporary surfboard shapers and designers, Larry Gordon, Bill Shrosbree, Tim Bessell, Tony Staples, Bill Minard, Gary Mcnab Skip Frye, Mike Barren, Mike Hynson, Hank Byzak, Gary Linden and Hank Warner to name a few. If the art of surfboard shaping is indeed sacred, and it is, then these are some of the surfboard shapers who helped and continue to help it to be so. Aloha.