There's various reasons why you should consider going for a custom shape over a mass produced board. We take a long at some of them.
The hyper-commercialisation of the Surf Industry and the few players that dominate the industry mean that today it’s never been easier to get your hands on a shred stick. Brands like Lost, JS, Firewire, Pyzel, DHD have become household names. Walk into any board shop or surfing outlet and no doubt you’ll be guided towards the more well-known shapers and brands. This is all well and good, if you don’t mind owning what a thousand other guys have. If you opt for this, be sure to read our how to buy a surfboard in 2018 article.
When you boil it down, it’s all a matter of preference. Some guys like having the Big Mac of surfboards, others can appreciate the dying art that is hand shaping and the work that goes into making a surfboard in this fashion. There’s always going to be a trade-off between scale and quality. Not saying, that if you buy a PKU (machine made) board that it will won’t perform under your feet, chances are it will. But a board made from a well-respected local shaper will perform a damn sight better.
I know this from experience. I used to be that one of the Lost brand’s disciples, worshiping at the altar of Biolos’ boards, but not anymore. Don’t get me wrong his boards are great, and there’s a reason why so many pros on the tour are using them. For your average surfer, like me, who just needs a bit more foam to get into the wave nice and early his boards have served me very well over the years. I found his boards very forgiving and the Sub-Scorcher II and Mini-Driver were my go to’s.
After a while, I found I needed a step-up for bigger Winter waves and rather than pick something out of the Lost range, I decided I really needed something more personalised and a board that was finely tuned to my personal style. After asking a few work colleagues (at the time I was working for Quiksilver) who their shaper of choice was I had a good list to decide from and an idea of prices.
I approached it a bit differently, rather than just submit my order to the shaper I wanted him to come and out and watch me surf, get an idea for my level. That way, I felt the end product would be finely attuned to the nuances of my surfing. I also wanted to get a general overview of the process, from start to finish. After we had selected the blank, I made sure I spent enough time in the shaping bay with my shaper getting to grips with the process and even having a go and using the planner and shaving off the foam. It was definitely a steep learning curve, and one I’m still getting to grips with to this day.
I can honestly say ordering from your local shaper is definitely a good idea. At the end of the day, it may cost you a bit more, but the enjoyment you’ll get out of your board and just fostering that surfer – shaper relationship is something that money really can’t buy.