"THE BIG GUY" a.k.a. Rusty & PT talking surf craft evolution this past Saturday at HSS. The two are industry legends and it was rad to have some insight on the current state of surfboard shaping. Thanks for the good times HSS.
A clip featuring the rusty team in bali going looney on their single fins shaped by rusty preisendorfer.
Contrary to popular opinion, Rusty Preisendorfer doesn't spend all his time locked in the shaping bay.
When someone starts in about their hip replacement and their ball player son, you think "senior discounts and prune juice." But if that speaker is high-functioning surfboard designer Rusty Preisendorfer, you're talking a whole 'nother story. We recently stuck a mic in R-Dot's grill, and asked him for some perspective on the contemporary surfboard landscape.
Rusty, enough about you. What's up with your son, Clint? I was told that he was drafted by the Yankees.
At first, the Florida Marlins wanted to take him straight from high school. Tall left-handed kid. 6'5", never injured, topped out at 91 m.p.h. and had a lot of action. Had a good bat, good glove. He spent a couple of years at Palomar Community College and had some good coaching. The Yankees drafted him, but ended releasing him after a year. We had a talk, and he explained that he didn't have the passion anymore. He was more into surfing.
I've heard Clint can shape. Is he following your path now?
Well, he surfed as a kid when he wasn't playing ball. When he was 17, he finished a couple of boards off the machine. Those are about ninety percent done, so it was just fine-sanding the core. In the last year, he has shown an interest in both hand-shaping and learning the CAD software to design surfboards. Even glassing -- he wants to learn how to build a board from start to finish.
Clint Preisendorfer, a world away from the bullpen.
That brings up an interesting question. Are there shapers today who don't know how to hand-shape a board? Can you just finish out a pre-shape and call yourself a shaper?
Actually, there are two sides to that. There are a lot of good shapers who are skilled with their hands, but they're -- I don't want to say technophobic -- but if they embraced the software it could really help them with doing production boards. On the other hand, if you use the machine and have the feedback of a couple of great surfers, you can really fine tune things and experience a lot of success. So yeah, some shapers have made a name for themselves without having to hand shape thousands of boards.
Despite being most well known for making really tuned boards for professional surfers, you're gaining a reputation for boards for the regular surfer.
Things change. In the mid-'90s, you started seeing alternative surfboards in surf films by guys like the Malloys and Thomas Campbell. It was obvious that guys were having a lot of fun on shorter, wider boards. It was sort of a backlash, admitting that, yeah, the pros surf well beyond us mortals, but ... some of it has been the Internet, too. You didn't see it in the print media, because we know that food chain. It had to come from other places. Now people realize that for average conditions, probably the last thing you want to ride is what the pros ride.
In the end, what makes surfing unique is the surfboard, the custom surfboard. It's such a rare opportunity. You can't, as far as I know, order a set of custom skis. A custom guitar is thousands of dollars. But for a few hundred bucks you can go to a shaper down the street working in his workshop, and come up with something completely unique to you --the surfer.
This past weekend the Rusty Boardhouse Team Challenge went down in fun, shoulder high surf on the North side of Scripps Pier. There was a great turn out of local talent that made for a really exciting and close event. The contest had a unique structure... four man teams where chosen at random in the morning, consisting of two groms and two adults. The event was tag team style and points were tallied for a winning team. At the end of the day the winning team was The Charlie Sheens, consisting of Jacob Szekely, Bryan Guter, Miles Toner, Jay Christenson. Congrats, each team member won a shaped blank from Rusty Surfboards...
For more photos from the event check out the GALLERY.
See that single fin that Matty Wilko's staring at, longingly? It's Josh Kerr's new sled, shaped by Rusty Preisendorfer. The reason Wilko's so interested, is because he's just ordered a similar design himself. Forget quads, 2011's all about the single rudder.
Today was a lay-day at the Rip Curl Pro, Bells Beach, so the boys pulled together a small crew and cruised down the coast a little, to surf a break that sits just off the side of the road. During the trip, there was very little talk of the contest, with most discussion being about board design. The whole crew had a go of Kerr's board – Wilko, Damo Hobgood, Rusty Victoria rep Finn Barry and a coupla others. According to photog Damea Dorsey, Finn was surfing the best out of anyone.
This weekend, Saturday the 18th starting at 9am, come to Huntington Surf and Sport to "Talk Story" with Rusty, PT, and Sean Collins. Rusty will be discussing surfing, shaping, and the Dwart, nominated for SIMA's 2010 Surfboard of the Year. Also, Sean Collins will let you know how to maximize your Surfline experience.
Make sure and be there for this unique opportunity to talk with some of surfing's legends...
Photo: Aaron Chang. Text: Mark Anders
For Surfline's last review, they took a look at a very cool (and free!) surfboard shaping software called BoardCAD. You can even download your virtual board design to a computerized shaping machine which will cut it for you, allowing the average guy with zero shaping experience to design his own boards.
While the software is intuitive and relatively easy to use, designing a surfboard that'll surf worth a crap is still a challenge. I've spent some time monkeying around with BoardCAD until I ended up with a 6'4" small-wave board that he thought looked pretty dang fun.
But I've been warned that what you see on the computer screen and what pops out the other end of a shaping machine are often not the same thing. So before we waste a perfectly good blank cutting my board, we asked shaping legend Rusty Preisendorfer to proofread my design and grade my shape.
Now I realize just how lucky I am to be given this opportunity -- I mean, having Rusty grade your surfboard design is akin to having Tiger Woods rate your swing, or Kelly judge your frontside hack. But it's also very stressful. As soon as I hit send, and my design was hurtling toward Rusty's inbox in SoCal, I was nerve-wracked.
A couple days later, my report card arrived, and here's what Professor Preisendorfer had to say:
"Overall looks good. The little Toad/Rocket wing on the tail is cool. But usually I will do the subtle features like that by hand until I really settle into a design. Don't get too caught up in detail, especially in the tail."
"The deck is a pretty benign thing, really. But I think you might want to take some of the dome out of the deck, and go with a little less volume."
Cross Sections: B
"Cross sections are like taking AP classes, so you did a pretty good job. Overall the deck looks a little crowned to me but that's a personal preference thing."
"You missed the mark here pretty hard. You didn't do enough homework there. Rocker is a pretty subjective thing, but you'll want to flatten it out a little bit--2.86 inches is quite a bit of tail rocker. For a 6'8" Pipeline board I might use 2.7 inches or a little more. For a 6'4" hotdog board I would drop it to 2.15 to 2.35 inches max."
"Pretty impressed with your first design."
"Remember, you can always subtract foam but you can't add it back. Leave yourself a little extra foam, especially on the ends of the board. For the middle 60 to 70 percent of the board, let the machine do a lot of the magic, but err on the thick side especially on the last 30 percent on the nose and tail. Keep in mind that you can shape in detail: fine-tune tail outline, rail thickness, tip thickness, concave. So leave yourself a little wiggle room on early designs until you get a feel for how the design on the screen translates into a cut."
So my homework assignment is to try to fix the problems that Rusty pointed out on my 6'4". Then, I'll send it over to a computer cutting service and get my blank mowed. While you obviously won't have the luxury of Rusty proofing your own designs, he says most guys who operate computer cutting services are experienced folks who would be happy to help look over your design before it's cut. Some will charge you for their time, others may do it gratis because they just want you to have a good experience and come back to cut more boards at their shop. Either way, "be respectful of his time, and be humble," recommends Rusty.
Humble, that's the easy part. I've found that designing a surfboard -- either virtually or by hand -- is an inherently humbling experience that's bound to make any surfer better appreciate the time and skill that goes into creating a truly great surfboard.
For the full archive of Surfline's Surf Gear Reviews, click here.