InFirst, I think this is the most exciting time in the history of surfing for shapers. There are more designs, styles of surfing, and lengths of surfboards than ever before. The shaper is under the gun to create better surfboards than our fathers and forefathers. At the same time the concept of the professional surfboard factory in Australia has probably never seen worse times. The backyarder will again prevail as the driving force of progression in surfing. I am a good example of this. Thanks to Shapers we have better tools than ever to make GREAT boards.
How did you get into shaping or decide to make a career from it?1998: I made a career from shaping because I came to Australia, married my wife, and found out she was pregnant within 3 months. I had to get a job and making surfboards was what I could do right away. There were almost no single fin Longboards at that time and I saw that there is a market for them on the Queensland points. So I had a quick little business within months.
Who were your mentors?I was sponsored by and very close to Donald Takayama for many years in California. He taught me that it takes 3 days to shape a very good surfboard. I was also was very good friends with Skip Frye and his design concepts are fantastic. I made a video of him 20 years ago and what he said was taken up by the surfing world ten years later. In Australia, my mentor is Bill Wallace. He is the man. His understanding of surf craft is absolutely incredible and it is so sad that so much human knowledge will disappear when he goes.
Who where your influences early in your career?Influences: I grew up in California so most people in Australia wouldn't have heard of them. But, Joe Bark who makes paddle boards is my hero. He loves surfing soooo much and pursued paddle boarding with a vengeance when there were only about 20 guys doing it in California (and probably the world) I have surfed some very big waves with him and he always had such a calm head in stupid situations.
Who have you shaped boards for over the years?With the alaia movement I have been lucky to have shaped boards for a lot of very good surfers including: Tom Carroll, Tom Curren, Mike Stewart, David Rastovich, Rob Machado, Ryan Birch, Cyrus Sutton, Harrison Roach, Dan Malloy...... I have got a lot of very good feedback from them and as shapers know, that is gold.
Has there been any board that has stood out over the years?The ultimate board is the Olo and I made one for the ultimate surfer David Rastovich. It doesn't get any better.
What designs have you been working on lately?Lately I have been working on the foam alaia. An alaia is a flat, wood ancient Hawaiian surfboard that doesn't float very well. I have made some from foam that float - but it is really not an alaia any more. So I named them Tuna. Derek Hynd is making finless surfboards (which are debatably finless) but they are far from an alaia or a tuna. Derek's are based on boards from modern finned boards where mine come from the alaia. We are on two different trips. Tunas work from a mix of bottom curve, hard edge and flex, like alaias. Derek is off of concaves and long things which are sort of like fins. We need names for our boards. Both board RIP!!!! and this is a very exciting time in surfing!!!! For finned surfboards; Simmons had it right 60 years ago. The is a ballance between a finned board and an alaia. They ride great in the average surf that most of us surf. Of course, Simmons was making eps core boards with thin plywood 60 years ago and was laughed off.
What makes your boards better then the rest?My boards better than the rest: Gee, I don't know if they are.
Where do you see the future of shaping (e.g. board design, materials)?I hate to say it, but i see it largely going to eps. Regular foam is good for noseriding and stiff boards, but then wood is better still for those boards. When you want flex and you need a board to last for a few months, then eps is the best now. But things are always changing... I am still learning.
What excites you with the future of shaping (e.g. board design, materials)?I am not all that excited any more. More exhausted. It is so wonderfull that there are so many boards and so many ways of making boards now. I just want to leave my shed only to try new creations.
What words of wisdom would you pass down for inspiring shapers?For inspiring shapers, Surfing is still in its infancy. It is just coming out of the Dark Ages. We are just beginning to learn back what we have forgotten in the last 200 years and add this to what we have learned in the last 40 years and we have exciting times ahead.
Tell us why you love your job?love my job because I am working with happy people. The stoke of a customer when he or she picks up a new board is soooo good.
Anything you want to get off your chest?Surfing is mostly not a sport. The contest side is far from all of surfing. Skip Frye is the best surfer I have ever seen on a surfboard and he just stood still. The Gods spoke through him.
Favourite shaping tools?My favorite shaping tool is the long flexible block. I make sanding blocks from different thickness of plywood so they flex. Most are about 70 cm long. Shaping with them is like playing a violin.
Any tools you would like to Shapers too make? Shapers, could you make velcro backed long blocks???
Shapers Fins Related Questions:
I like the fins Shapers manufacture as they are made very well made. But with the new Simmons boards and other shapes, new fins will be needed. Like the alaia and Tuna boards, fins need to drift as well as grab. There are a few new variables to be experimented with. I would love to help!!!
Contact: Tom Wegener
Ph: +6 1 (7) 5442 6924