After being off the map for a few years on hiatus in Utah, Chris Ruddy has returned and is back at it again. He’s been busy shaping everything from classic logs to shorty stubby and full outlined boards lately. Check out what he has to say in this episode of Local Shapers Shaper of the Month.
Lifelong resident of Ocean Beach and surfboard shaper Nate Gill is an up and coming craftsman here in San Diego, California. Under his label Kinetic Energy Surfboard Designs, his goal is to make boards designed for Southern San Diego’s variety of surf breaks…whether it’s the OB Pier or Sunset Cliffs. Ever since he was kid, Nate has always been skilled with his feet grew up spending long hours cruising on his skateboard with friends. He was also lucky enough to get the chance to watch John Neve of Trueline Custom Surfboards mow foam and fiberglass boards at a young age, which made a powerful impression about shaping on him.
Whether it’s a fish, shortboard, or funboard you know it will work because of Nate’s intimate knowledge of the curves a rhythm of the waves nearby. With a tribe of his own groms on the way up, make sure to keep your eyes peeled…this father of 3 will definitely be providing them with a solid head start on their way to a long, saltwatery, sun drenched, and healthy life.
To order a board or learn more about Nate Gill and Kinetic Energy visit: www.kineticenergysurfboarddesign.weebly.com
Dan O’Hara is the shaper for Solid Surfboards and South Coast Surfboards here in San Diego. His boards are made for surfers who actually surf, and are built to last. He’s been at it for about 10 years and his work speaks for itself. Give him a call or head down to South Coast to have a look for yourself and pick one up.
1) We heard that you’ve been shaping boards for South Coast, how did that relationship begin?
A few years ago Jeremy, Heather’s husband, suggested me potentially shaping some boards for South Coast and I was all for it. I’ve had a pretty good and growing following on the East Coast. In a way I kind of gave up on San Diego or just kind of passed San Diego by because I was doing pretty well on the East Coast. I’m here because the weather is insane and the waves are a lot better than the East Coast and there’s a lot easier access to materials and labor and all that stuff.
When Jeremy had suggested that I go for the South Coast deal, I thought that it would be a good one and done thing in San Diego, you know, get affiliated with a great local shop and build my shaper brand, not necessarily my shaper brand which is totally fine because I’m not trying to sell my brand here. It’s more on the East Coast.
It was just a good thing and we’re continuing to make some of their older models and helping develop some new models. We kinda threw epoxy in half their racks as like a blind test and its been going insane. We see a lot of boards moving and I don’t even know if the consumers know, you know what I mean. But we basically took some boards I’ve been making, threw them in their racks and changed the model names kept them EPS and they’re moving. Without marketing or really much.
2) What shapers have helped you along your way and were influential to get you where you are today?
I grew up around the corner from Mike Shermeyer who was a pretty big shaper under the label Shred Styx Surfboards in the 80’s, at least he was a big shaper out East. I always looked up to him and when I started shaping. He showed me a few things here and there and was always an inspiration, everyone in the community always looked up to him. He’s a really cool nice guy and he then he turned me on to another local guy who was actually building boards at that time who helped me with the ins and outs of glassing, little tools and tricks here and there. After that I went and apprenticed for a shaper in Florida.
Charlie Williams, from Impact Surfboards. He really got me dialed in with the shaping there’s nobody that has helped me more with the tuning of shaping than he did. He’s a gnarly charger who’s pushing 60 and still does airs in 1 foot Florida slop. He’s the kinda guy I look up to more than the guys who put themselves on a pedestal He’s kinda in the trenches again and making boards for guys who surf and just delivering a good product for people who surf.
I grew up in New York working in a shop, Island Surf, in West Hampton and kind of got to see what happens on the retail floor surfboard wise, you know what happens in the trenches. I basically built a program for East Coast shops that we work with their shop guys, basically supporting team riders and employees and also giving the shops a price that they can make a good margin on and that will retail for a good competitive price and be a board that surfers, actual surfers, can afford. That’s been our whole program and its gone great. On my first sales trip a couple years ago, I went to 135 shops in a month. I went from Maine to Galveston, Texas and I figured if I went to enough shops I’d get one or two…and I got about a dozen. And that was 11 more than I’d had prior and it was a killer, eye opening experience for sure. At that point I’d kinda been only doing customs and if it didn’t go well, I was gonna say fuck it and quit shaping, but it went well…so I figured I’d keep shaping.
4) You’ve been on the green surfboard movement for a while now, anything new in that department?
In 2009, there was a Rob Machado Hurley Green Expo in Cardiff-By-The-Sea and so we built this board. I’d been dabbling in different construction and I’ve been doing epoxy for a while. For that show, we had a recycled blank that was built out of EPS foam scraps that were cut offs from other boards. So, we had a scrap blank that was glued together and I made bamboo fins for it. We used a Pine based resin, bamboo cloth, and a bio plastic leash plug. It was the Discus model, which is a round nose, pintail quad. It’s a funky board that a lot of people could relate to at that time; it was a little forward thinking at that point in time.
We won the Green Board Builder award at that thing and it was a cool credential I guess…if any credentials exist in this industry. Since then we’ve just been doing our virgin EPS, which is always recyclable…forever. Epoxy resin is 1/1000 the VOC levels of polyester resin, so it’s just our production standard board right now is pretty environmentally friendly. Versus a poly blank and poly resin, which is just horrendous for the environment. I’d say we do like 98% of our construction is EPS epoxy and we do about 20 boards a week. But we stil get onesie, twosie polys here and there.
5) Where do you like to surf?
I live in PB so I wind up surfing around there a lot. I love the shore and La Jolla reefs. That’s why I decided to live there, I didn’t want to pay to live in La Jolla but North PB is right there. Easy access…you’re inside the 5, and that’s’ pretty much where I surf.
6) Besides surfing and making boards, what other hobbies do you have?
I love waterfalls. I’ve been doing a lot of hiking and camping and I dig that shit. I don’t know what it is about water, but I freak out on waterfalls. We just went to Yosemite for Memorial Day weekend and that was killer. We went up to Vancouver about 3 weeks ago to look at a shaping machine and we went to Vancouver Island and Cypress falls and that was awesome too.
3) Where can your boards be found in local shops or what’s the best way to get a new custom from you?
There have been a couple shops, Rad action sports in Mission Beach, a guy Jeff, a good friend of mine, he let me put some boards in there on consignment. Wavelines Surf Shop up near Del Mar carried some boards a few years ago. But now that I’m with South Coast I’m kind of just focusing on building and helping to continue growing the brand and dialing in their shapes and getting their team guys good boards. It’d be cool to get them against Surf Ride or something in the Oakley Shop Challenge and win it, that’s kind of one of my goals; to get those kids killing it.
If you need anything form the East Coast check one of our retailers, we have one everywhere except for Florida right now., You can order one online at solidsurfco.com, or if you need anything locally, stop by your local South Coast Surf Shop and order one through Fabiano or one of the guys on the floor and I’d be happy to shape one for you through them.
Luke Moore is a quality board builder who has spent time working with some of the biggest heads in the industry. Through his years of surfing, shaping, and experimenting he has made name for himself and had his hands on many boards throughout the years. He has always been a bold individual since his beginnings on Long Island, New York where in the 70’s he would drain pools and skate them. Only after the wealthy seasonal residents of West Hampton had left their mansions and returned to the city after summer holidays, that is. Through those experiences and from spending time riding waves he has gained many good friends along the way. Luke has also spent time living on Kauai before returning to the mainland where he currently finds himself in Oceanside.
“My name is Luke Moore and I live in Oceanside. I’ve been here for about 15 years now since I moved back from Kauai. I’ve been at this location for about 3 years in the airport valley by the rest of the shapers down here. I’m right next to Landen Surfboards. I surf Oceanside Harbor and DMJ’s in the summer. I have a pass so I go over there. It’s only 5 minutes away…kind of a local spot. I also surf Oceanside pier quite a bit. I like surfing blacks in the wintertime too.”
“I love the Lord and I’m a born again Christian. That’s what this is all about. I’m super thankful to be able to make boards and worship the Lord. He really changed my life back in the 80’s and gave me a new life through being born again. He’s opened up new doors for surfing and shaping. I’m also able to do missionary work and surf, which is definitely a blessing.”
Who are some of your favorite shapers that you’ve had the chance to work with?
When I first started shaping in 1979/80, I shaped with a guy named Ricky Rasmussen from the Hamptons. He really influenced my surfing and skateboarding. Also, Michael Shermeyer, another guy from back there. Dick Brewer, Sammy Hawk, and Gary Linden showed me a lot. Recently, Rick Hamon from Rusty. I shape with those guys and he’s taught me a lot. There’s a ton of different guys.
Is there any particular type of board that you like shaping over another?
I like to shape anything for double or triple overhead. 7’8”, 8’0”, 8’6”s is definitely my favorite thing to shape. Right here is a personal board and the first time I’m going to try a five-fin set up and a quad. I’m not too sure about a quad in big waves, so I’ve got to test it.
How was it getting into shaping back in the day on the East Coast? What was it like starting out over there?
The surf is actually pretty good over there…it’s mostly really powerful hollow waves. We used to have Samuel Hawk and a couple of the brewer shapers come there in the summertime and show us a lot. We had pretty good waves to learn to how shape and test surfboards on. It was actually a good training ground for Hawaii because the waves were real powerful and hollow there.
Back in the late 60’s they built these jetties. There were 13 of them and they were as big as the Oceanside harbor jetties when they first built them. The waves were insane in the 70’s and early 80’s, it was incredible. And they built up sand, which was the whole purpose.
You used to be a professional skateboarder and grew up draining and skating pools on Long Island and were heavily involved in the skate scene over there…Do you ever get out and skate pools anymore?
Yeah, recently a couple of years ago I got back into it. I had to put it down because I just can’t skate conservatively. I’ve got to keep pushing and pushing myself. But I can still fly out of the pools and do grinds and everything, but it was just too scary because I know it was a matter of time before I’d eat it sooner or later. It was kinda cool to go back to it because I didn’t skate for 25 years…I was mostly surfing and shaping, but I got right back into it and all the younger kids were tripping out on me because of my total surf style that you’ve seen in my pictures. They were like “Whoa! Who is this guy?” Which was pretty cool.
With the long flat spells on the East Coast, skateboarding obviously helped keep you sane… Which did you get into first?
“I started surfing in 1972, before I started skateboarding. I grew up with a guy named Ricky Rasmussen who was a pro surfer a really good pipeline surfer. Back then it was a pretty tight group of guys Michael Shermeyer and Billy McGill. We were all surfers and shapers and that’s where I grew up surfing.”
“I used to drain pools back there at the mansions when people would go back to New York City. We’d drain out their pools and skate them all winter. We were pretty hardcore and it was a lot of fun.”
Skateboarding went from boom to bust in the early 80’s. In your time working as a shaper, have you seen anything like this in surfing?
Surfing has always been pretty steady, especially in Southern California, which is one of the reasons I live here. I lived in Kauai for a number of years, but it was hard to shape for a living there because it’s sort of limited. That’s why I moved back to Southern California and started shaping with Rusty and Gary Linden and a couple of other guys. You know, it’s always pretty consistent here.
Who are some of your favorite surfers you’ve ever had the chance to make a board for?
Back in the 80’s I was shaping for Gary Linden, so I’d rough out boards and he’d refine shape them. Taylor Knox, Colin Smith, Chuy Reyna, Mike Lambresi, and Brad Gerlach. I was helping make boards for all those guys.
Actually, when I was living in Kauai, I was shaping for Billy Hamilton, Laird’s dad, and we did the first tow in board in our shop…I believe it was 1990.
Do you have any new models you’re working on for this coming summer in Oceanside?
This one here is something I’ve been working on. It has a real flat top, with that 80’s style rail. It’s not really a fish, but more like an 80’s style board…it’s kinda fishy but not quite a fish. It’s a little flatter, but with enough kick in the tail so that it’s not a fish. It’s got a full rail but it’s also sharp here so it’s not too buoyant. I’m kind of experimenting with these tails too.
To learn more about Luke, click here to find him on FACEBOOK
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Who are you and where are you from?
My name is Dennis Kane. Originally from Ocala, Florida and now living in Encinitas, CA.
What are DK Surfboards?
DK surfboards is an ever evolving progression of hand made surfboards in the United States of America
How long have you been shaping?
I have been shaping for almost exactly 10 years now. I started on my parents back porch in Florida when i was 14 or 15. I did about a hundred boards for friends and decided to move to California 10 days after graduating high school.
Who was the first person to show you how to shape a surfboard?
The first person I ever watched shape a surfboard was Rich Pavel, up on the hill in Encinitas. In Florida I was self taught and learned things the hard way and at a snails pace. As soon as I moved West I’ve been surrounded by a lot of really talented shapers and have been inspired by Steve Boysen, Rich Pavel, Chris Christenson, Michael Baron, Jeff Clark, Matt Biolas; just to name a few. I’m always inspired by what Jim Philips is building and talking surfboards or picking the brain of guys like Marlin Bacon.
I surf all over., but quite often you’ll find me at many of the local spots here in Encinitas. I try to get down to Blacks a fair bit and enjoy a lot of the La Jolla reefs. Summer time I’ll sniff out the other spots whether it be north county or far south
Outside of Shaping and Surfing what do you enjoy doing with your free time?
Other than surfing I skateboard and try to snowboard as often as I can. I get just as psyched on snow because I didn’t grow up with that, so a good day on the mountain is always necessary.
What style of boards do you like to shape?
I enjoy shaping a variety of different shapes. From the beginning I have always wanted to be known as a guy that can shape anything. I think that’s important. There is always going to be something you are more known for or maybe a popular trend that magazines are selling, but as long as you stay open to the changing designs and technology and revisit old ones with new concepts, I’d say we should definitely be able to keep it fun and interesting.
Do you like to test out your boards? Who do you give your boards to to test out that you can really trust?
I like to test out my own designs and I have everything from single fins to bonzers and everything inbetween. Other than that feedback from riders, friends, and everyday customers is always useful in fine tuning designs.
What board do you enjoy shaping the most?
My favorite thing to shape would be pintails. I think they are the most pleasing to the eye. I still enjoy handshaping a true custom for someone. Whether it be one of my models or something totally unique.
What is in store for DK surfboards in 2013?
In 2013 I have a lot of new things in the works. A couple new shortboard models coming to the website soon a long with some new technologies. Keep an eye on www.dksurfboards.com for more info.