INTERESTING addiction this year, the 2023 Vissla Championship Tour (CT) Shaper Rankings. Well worth a Chat, perhaps. May I start the conversation by saying that, as witnessed, most of the leading professionals are riding boards designed by a handful of shapers and crafted wherever. What does this actually mean for your average surfer? I just saw a major surfboard sale of Top Guns at a local retail outlet. Boards, in my mind that are perhaps quite pricey in today's economy. Is the market prepared to part with hard-earned dollars in this climate - even when on Sale - to purchase a surfboard that is possibly not going to suit their particular style of surfing and their predominant surf conditions? My personal thoughts are: Our local, homegrown shapers are probably going to shape a perfect surfboard for you. You probably surf with them. They know you, the conditions in which you share waves, and how your surf. Before laying down the Big Bucks for something that may not be suited for you and your local break, maybe have a chat to a couple of your local shapers, ask if you can ride of couple of their "pre-loved" shapes. Talk about what works for you and what doesn't. What is going right and what is going wrong when you paddle out. So many young guys I see, lashing out their hard-earned on boards that carry the buzz brand labels. I own around 10 hand-shaped surfboards I ride. I've held onto them over the years, and if I'm on point, I occasionally pick the right board for the right conditions. Some are dinged to buggery, some are as yellow as my teeth. But on their day, they do more for me than I can do for them. Damon Leach - Editor, WAVES Magazine 1986-1989.
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In surfboards as in clothes or cars or computers, marketing has a way of distorting reality if you allow it. Seems to me that the pull of marketing is most powerful when you're younger and decreases with age. Maybe that's the beginning of wisdom or maybe it's being old enough to see through the bullshit (maybe they're the same thing).
It's interesting looking at the Shaper Rankings now, and then considering who would've led the rankings had they had them in the 80s, 90s, or 00s. Back then there'd be Rusty, MC, Nev, Webber, Minami, Dahlberg.
Every one of those guys are still great shapers. They don't get worse with age, especially in the computer shaping era. What they don't do is play the marketing game anymore.
With enough experience and a little research you can easily find a model off the shelf that suits. At my age but with a diminishing skill set, I feel like I can pretty much get a good match between how I want to surf and the board I want to do it on. On the other hand if you can forge good relationships with a couple of shapers, they can tweak your ideas and their designs to come up with the perfect board just for you- customs are nice and they can be spruced up with a schmicko spray....It's also great to support local business. I have a mix of both. I've got it wrong a bunch of times....sometimes what I wanted doesn't translate in either a model, or between me and a shaper. I don't reckon one is better than the other though ....if you're short on cash or not sure, there are plenty of second hand options. Part of the fun is figuring it out for yourself.