Saturday, September 12, 2009


Art of Shaping entry from Steve Lis. I haev such a soft spot for classic Sin Diego fish. Photo: Cher Pendarvis

I tolerated the vapid ASR drones bumping their be-stickered freebie bags into each other as I walked to Billabong's Art of Shaping event. Something to look forward to. A cool idea. A potential for acknowledging the core of what makes surfing special- authenticity, originality, craftsmanship, regionalism, characters of all types.

I arrived late, checked a few boards then sat next to EpicAker and watched the festivities. The highlights were the remarkable boards at hand. The woodwork by Mitzven, R., Christenson, Toby- jawdropping. The handiwork by Hanky, Bahne, Pendo, Lis, Larmo, Peter St. Pierre, Sam Cody- phenomenal. The crowned king, an unbelievable glue up with matching fin from The Genius, went for lots o'cash to R.

Some nice words and actions were made from the podium to honor craftsmen in the trade. Some guys now have their boards stocked in some shops. An ad about supporting your local shaper/glasser is going to come out in Surfing Mag.

Problem- every moneyed entity involved- publications, shops, even the event sponsor and presenter- swell their bottom line with vacuous product sold at the expense of the real craftsmen. The popouts and overseas market destroyers will still outnumber Hank Warner boards at local Megaxtreme Store 1,2, and 3. What would happen if suddenly the real craftsmen were asked to make all the entry level boards for a fair price in place of all the popouts? Would Megaxtreme go out of business? No, they'd just sell boards of higher quality and support the men and women who make our surfboards great.

Billabong, thanks for gathering great boards, shapers, and enthusiasts together for a nice event to raise money. Perhaps The Art of Shaping will begin a reawakening among consumers, media, manufacturers, and retailers that reproducible flotsam is out and craftsmanship, functionality, and uniqueness is what makes surfing special and what is ultimately the most valuable basis on which to market our beloved diversion.

I used to be a sales rep in "action sports". It's much better being a participant/critic in surfing.

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