Friday, September 4, 2009

Surfing RI

This is Point Judith. I was the king of that place, rode it bigger than anyone in 69-70. The wind blew onshore for week, I awoke one morning and I heard birds chirping outside my window, ran to the living room and looked out on Narragansett bay. The ocean looked like it was tipping back and forth on a teeter-totter as the south swells marched by.

I broke out my 7'10"x 17-1/2' with 10" nose rocker Black Beauty gun for the first time - it was like riding snot it was so smooth on those 12-14 foot perfect peaks.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Billabong :: Art of Shaping


Billabong USA is proud to announce the second annual "Billabong Art of Shaping Event" to be held September 10th-11th at the ASR Action Sports Retailer Trade Show in San Diego CA. This years' "Billabong Art of Shaping: San Diego Edition" event will feature many of the top shapers from the rich board building heritage of San Diego county. The finalized list of invitees includes Bill Bahne, Tim Bessell, Chris Christenson, Carl Ekstrom, Rick Hamon, Gary Hanel, John Kies, Gary Linden, Steve Lis, Larry Mabile, Gary MacNabb, Bob Mitsven, Rich "Toby" Pavel, Steve Pendarvis, Jim Phillips, Rusty Preisendorfer, Robin Prodanovich, Steve Seebold, Donald Takayama, Hank Warner, Xanadu and Marcio Zouvi.

San Diego County is famous for its talented crew of designers and shapers that have introduced a significant number of innovations such as the Stevie Lis Fish, the Ekstrom asymmetrical, the Rich Pavel Speedialer, the Donald Takayama Step Deck and other notable designs which have had a remarkable effect on the sport of surfing and the surfboard itself.

The intention of Billabong's 2009 Art of Shaping San Diego Edition Event is to showcase and pay tribute to San Diego County shapers and their invaluable accomplishments and contributions to the art of surfboard building over the last five decades. Close examination of the list of invitees will reveal shapers from each decade that collectively have established the reputation of San Diego County as the "hotbed of innovative surfboard design, construction and forward thinking."

The Concept

The concept of the "Billabong Art of Shaping Event" is simple; it is a venue to showcase the talent of San Diego surfboard shapers and craftsmen by allowing them to build boards that highlight their particular contribution or influence on the evolution of the surfboard over a particular span in time. Shapers are invited and encouraged to "create a board representing the era, style, or shape they are best known for or relate to"; or whatever best motivates their creativity and talent.

The shapers entry is then placed on display at the ASR trade show along with full sized images of the shaper himself and a profile that includes information on the board he choose to build, his company or label, and his shaping history or career.

How it Works

Once a chosen shaper accepts the invitation to participate in The Billabong Art of Shaping San Diego Edition Event he is issued a check for $600 cash to be used towards materials for his entry of choice. The shaper is then free to submit whatever type of board he deems appropriate; knowing his board will be showcased with those of his peers. The Billabong Art of Shaping Event will feature 23 boards from 23 different shapers on display Thursday September 10th and Friday September 11th at ASR in the San Diego Convention Center.

A Shaper’s Reception will be held in a separate conference room on the Mezzanine in the Convention Center on Friday afternoon beginning at 4:00 PM. Here shapers will be available to meet guests and talk story while sharing about the boards they have created.

At approximately 6:30 PM a Live Auction will begin where each and every board will be auctioned off to benefit The SIMA Humanitarian Fund. The board that secures the highest auction price at the Live Auction becomes the largest single donor to the SIMA Humanitarian Fund; the charity chosen for the "Billabong Art of Shaping Event", and is awarded a check from Billabong for $2,000. The runner up will receive a full page ad in SURFING Magazine's "Board Builder's Issue" featuring his boards and company.

Intended Schedule of Events

During the course of the show guests are invited to view the boards, read the stories and place silent auction bids on any of the boards of their choice, these will be the opening bids at the Live Auction. The booth will be hosted by Royce Cansler and Eric "Bird" Huffman, who collectively have an extensive knowledge of San Diego shapers and their accomplishments.

On Friday afternoon starting at 4:00 PM the boards will be on the mezzanine level of the San Diego Convention Center in an upstairs conference room where a catered Shapers Reception will be held and guests can have a drink and nibble on some pupu’s while they view and examine the fruits of the shapers.
The reception is open to invited guests from the public that have signed up and RSVP'd in advance for the evening auction by going to

From 4:00 PM to 6:00 PM guests will be able to closely view each entry in preparation for the live auction. During the viewing period guests can enjoy pupu's, Primo beer, Wild Rock wine, Sambazon smoothies and Smart water in an effort to prime the pump before the bidding begins.

Guests making purchases that night will be allowed to take their purchases with them upon payment in full: cash and/or major credit cards will be the only acceptable means of payment.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Who's Your Daddy?

Who influenced your shaping? Who are the guys you looked up to? Who knocked you down a peg when you thought your were the shit? These are the guys that shaped me:

In the early days of Hawaii it was Wally Froseith, George Downing, Bob Sheppard, Brewer, Diff, Joe Quigg and the Inter-Islands crew. When I hit the east coast the above guys remained GODS until I met Tinker - then I knew what a real surfboard craftsman was all about. Then it goes back along Tinkers lineage, it boils down to Simmons, Velzy, Wardy, Jacobs and Larry Bailey who was Tinker's sensei.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Billabong Art of Shaping Event

I'm gearing up to shape another show board. This time the the folks at Billabong are holding the Billabong Art of Shaping Event at this years Sept ASR show. I have the board I want to do in mind so now it's time to start drawing it out and then start planing to get her done by Sept. Stay tuned for some "spy" photos of the building of the board.

Hi Jim,

I just wanted to drop you a quick note to welcome you to the Billabong Art of Shaping Event and say thank you very much for your decision to participate in our event.

I have attached the list of the charities that will be recipients of the funds we will raise at this years event since I didn’t really expand on them too much yesterday.

I hope you are getting some good ideas about what kind of board to make for the event!

Stay healthy, keep surfing,


Royce Cansler
Director of Specialty Retailer Relations

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Challenger Then and Now

In 1966 and 1967 Challenger Eastern Surfboards were at the top of the curve for quality, West Coast or East Coast. Tinker had a recording studio in the factory where our hot coater and finner would rehearse and record some of his early music for his band, Steel Mill. Tinker asked me to reproduce one of the Challenger Easterns, so this is what I pulled out the stops for.

A 9'2" square tail, hips behind center with a slightly pulled 17" nose, glass tail block and a glass on red glass fin. Center stick is a reverse t-band of 2-5/8" spalted balsas flanking a 1/16" redwood center. The rocker is slightly flipped in the tail flowing to a smooth low nose rocker. The bottom is low in the tip of the tail, transitioning to a neutral rail on a slightly rolled bottom. The lamination is clear with rail deck panels consisting of red pin lines around transparent yellow/honey inside the pins. It is ready to ride or nail to the wall. The board was auctioned off by one of the artists from Steel Mill, a guy named Bruce Springsteen, at a benefit at the Count Basie Theater.

Challenger Eastern

Bill Bahne and Frank McLeary started Challenger, they were in financial problems and Tinker had a good relationship with Grubby (Clark). Tinker was an electrical engineer by education, shaped for Wardy, Hobie and the crew from South Bay. He did some impossible jobs for Grubby and came away with a stash of foam for his effort. Frank and Bill were back in business, now with a new partner, Tinker.

Frank glassed, Ernie Vohs sanded, Jimmie Dalton glossed, Bahne shaped…wait, we have a new shaper so later Bill slowly got squeezed out of the partnership. Frank came to work while still dark and got his glassing done by dawn and was out the door for the rest of the day. Then it was a joint and some waves - no time for the book work.

Tinker saw that the lions share of the orders were going to the East Coast and it would be only sensible to have a factory on the east coast and west coast. Frank didn't think much of this idea as it would require running a business and being a glasser. Nothing could be worked out which turned into a division of assets and Tinker went straight across country to Florida, where he and the entire crew landing at Billy Feinbergs Oceanside Surfboards factory in Rockledge. It was a stopping point to put together an additional grubstake. With pockets filled, it was off to Neptune New Jersey, they had plentiful dealers in the area and it was the perfect location to serve north and south.This was where I first came into contact with Tinker.

Up to now I was the shit along Long Island New York and New Jersey beaches. This is where I get chopped down more than a few notches. BUT, this is where there was a MAJOR turning point in my learning how to really SHAPE. There was a connection between Challenger and Challenger Eastern Surfboards and the deal was Challenger Eastern was to not sell boards west of the Mississippi. However, when Bobby Thomas took over as the new owner of Challenger surfboards, he considered the old contract null and void and started a campaign to sell to the east coast. This was at the time of the V-bottom boards and Challenger Eastern was on its decline as a major player on the east coast market.

It was the summer of love and I discovered love in many fashions, some still frowned upon by society and the law. Tinker was not happy that I had brought myself to the attention of the local constabulary, he said that I was going to get busted, that I was a walking bust. Now that I had grown as a shaper I could now do more than the shaping load that was apportioned to me and do it quite well at that. So I stared whoring my self around to Rible Surboards and Surfboards East in Freehold. As you can imagine this went over like a ton of shit with Tinker. He felt, and rightly so, that he had imparted this knowledge and skills upon me and I was out delivering these benefits to his local competition.

Later that winter I went to California, got promptly busted, needed a job really bad and hitch hiked from Goleta to Del Mar to the Bahne, Chaninn and Diffenderfer factory. I got hired on the spot to shape, although Bahne said he would have to re-educate me away from Tinkers “evil” ways.

Tinker and I stayed on very bad terms for many a year. I went to a wedding for Ernie Vohs, the sander, and several years’ later I crossed paths with Tinker while riding around puffing one. I saw him running across the road to me from his still moving car. I raised my hand to signal a sort of wave and he was at my open window. What happened next is not a blur and it is permanently etched into my mind so that lest I ever forget it, I may be struck by lightning. Tinker’s hand snaked through the open window and gently cradled the back of my head in the open palm of his hand. His mouth opened and he said, "Your going to burn my factory down?" Wham! "You’re going to kick my ass?" Wham! Each sentence was punctuated with his other hand, made into a very hard fist, connecting with my eyebrow. After more than a few of these "dotting of my eye" it became time for me to say something in return............ and that was....."Hey can't we talk about this?" Tinker wasn't finished talking yet and he replied "You already done yer talking!" and eased his hand off the back of my very befuddled head.

It was a real long time before we spoke again and it would be even longer before our paths crossed. It was one of the first life lessons that ever sunk in and I don't need a refresher course. We are once again, as we were, very respectful friends.

Dale Dobson

Tinker had Dale in Rockaway, NY for a demo. Dales teeth were in terrible shape and he had a throbbing toothache. Dale gets Tinkers ammo can of tools and finds channel lock pliers inside. This is not something you ever want to witness! Soon he has the offending tooth out and in short notice has a bag of jelly doughnuts, munching away on them. It makes my teeth hurt just thinking about it. Bill Bahne eventually springs for a set of dentures for Dale.

While riding for Donald Takayama, Dale sits in on his new shape. Now only those of you that have EVER shaped a board for Dale can really appreciate this; Donald is done and Dale asks if Donald can make it any thicker. WTF? Donald bends down and scoops the foam dust off the floor and tosses it back on the shaped blank.

About 2002 I shape Dale a Surfboards Hawaii. Dale has ridden for EVERY southern California label and he come back ranting that this is the best board yet. The next day he comes to me and says, "You know I rode the board at low tide and it ripped, but when I took it out at high tide it did NOT float me as well with all that extra water under it.” There was ABSOLUTELY no point of arguing with him – he fought any explanation tooth and nail that he may have been wrong.

Dale hated the nose rider I shaped for him. Only at the insistence of others who rode it also did he relent and get back on the board. He took the board he hated so much to the Oceanside Longboard Club Noseriding Contest and ripped. He won the contest on it beating the competition by a total of 2 minutes of nose time and took home the grand prize of $3,000.

Dale loved his boards until the 28th or 29th of the month, then they went on the auction block to pay the next months bills.

Dale does not surf anymore. He had nerve damage in his neck and had been sober a long while, but the alcohol was a self-medicating haven for him. He also suffers from sever depression. From what I have seen of his childhood, I would be seriously emotionally depressed too.

God love him and watch over him