Rex Marechal wins the Icons Of Foam 'Shape Off'
Rex Marechal is an expat American who's called Australia home since 1994. He shapes under the RMS label - Rex Marechal Shapes - on the NSW Central Coast. Recently he returned to the US to attend the 'Shape Off', an event attached to Boardroom Show in San Diego.
The concept is simple: each year a legendary shaper is honoured and one of their classic shapes is to be recreated by the shapers entered in the Shape Off. The judges assess the results and a winner is chosen. This year the shaper that was honoured was Al Merrick.
And the winner, as you may have gathered by now, was Rex.
Swellnet: How did you get nominated for the Shape Off?
Rex Marechal: When I lived in California I was a local in that area and one of the guys that runs it, Scott Bass, said if you ever want to come over and do it then let me know. There were a few guys that wanted to be a part of it but I let him know that I was keen.
I recently spoke to Gary McNeil who was also nominated and he said he was the token Aussie, but there were actually two of you.
Yeah, two of us from Oz, and a guy from Spain, Johnny Cabianco. He shapes Medina's boards, he was there too.
How familiar were you with Al Merrick’s back catalogue?
Yeah, pretty familiar. I worked for their licensee over here for about fifteen years.
So you had a bit of a headstart then?
Kind of, though I shaped all those boards after 1994, which is when I arrived in Australia. The board we had to shape was from about 1991.
So what board was it?
The board we had to shape was the Magic Slipper, from about '91. You know the one with carbon strips on the bottom and the deck. That really famous board that he won a bunch of contests on. He kept it for a long time, it was one of those magic boards for Kelly.
He’s had a few. What were the dimensions of this one, Rex?
6'1" x 17 ⅝ x 2 1/4
Kelly on various versions of the Magic Slipper from 1991 and 1992 (Divine, Surfing, Balzer)
How long were you allowed to spend with the board measuring it up?
Just five minutes. It isn’t much. And I didn’t really have measuring tools with me. I didn’t take a rocker stick, but there was one in the room that was...ah, a little bendy. It didn’t really work that good but I got there in the end. I got most of the measurements down.
Most of the measurements..?
A big part of it was the overall look and feel of the board. You know the rails and everything. They kind of made it clear that a big part of it was making the boards look alike. So even though a lot of guys had full measuriung tools and may have got the rocker exact they really needed to have the flow there. The full bottom contours.
So you trusted your feel and instinct as much as the measurements you took?
Yeah, I did.
Well, in 1991 that was around the time I really started ramping up my shaping. I’d probably shaped 6,000 boards - handshapes - when that board was famous. I’d shaped a lot of boards during that era.
What about you? When Kelly and Merrick started moving surfboard design in that direction did you also adopt their concepts?
Yeah, though probably not as extreme. Not quite as narrow. Everyone had their own take on it at the time but, yeah, I had mine. I've even shaped a few boards exactly the same as that.
Did you get a trophy?
You get your name on a perpetual trophy with the names of all the past winners on it.
What other names are on it?
Matt Biolos, Pat Rawson, Wayne Rich….
It's a hell of a list. Congrats again Rex.
Contact Rex at RMS Shapes