Well this was quite a way to start off the year.
On January 27th, for the first time ever I participated in the annual Shape Off presented by US Blanks at the 2017 Surf Expo in Orlando, FL. The event was hosted and judged by Ricky Carroll and Greg Loehr. The shapers included were Sam Barker, Stu Sharpe, Jim Hansen, Allen White, Pat Rawson, Skye Richard, Jeff Haney and myself. The honoree board to be replicated was a 7'7 Greg Loehr personal gun with a soft channeled bottom, inverted hips, and a double wing pintail. It was to be shaped from EPS foam blanks in under two hours time.
The vibe from the board manufacturers at the show this year was great. Everyone brought the best they had with tremendous amount confidence, as if everyone knew this was going to be a great year for the "local" board builders to shine. Plenty of stoke was shared meeting and communing with other shapers that I had never met, but only seen their boards in the past. Even though this was a contest, there were no competitiveness in the air. And seeing the other craftsmen's different approaches to shape the same board was a truly learning experience for not just myself but anyone that was a builder and bared witness.
When the time came for me to shape I was pretty jazzed on nerves and caffeine. But when the clock started and I switched on my planer, the feeling of being in a glass bubble with who knows how many people staring, just dissolved away and tunnel vision began to wrap around my work and the board only. I stuck to my techniques and order of steps. The timer was my enemy until it reach its last second and freed me from the zone in which i was heavily in, scanning every inch of the board to make sure it was a clone match to its replicator that was propped in the corner of the room. Two hours went by in what felt like a few minutes. After I finished there were about three other shapers to go. The judging and ceremony would be held the following day.
The story ends with a humbled experience, a surprise victory, and new comrades in a larger shaping community than before. I want to thank WRV for bringing me down and supporting me in this event. Ricky Carrol for putting this on every year and allowing me to be apart of it. Greg Loehr for making such rad boards and innovating eps/epoxy well ahead of its time. All the shapers involved and present to the show, it was pleasure to connect with so many positive craftsmen under one roof. I hope these sort of events continue on as they demonstrate a rare and genuine craft that can only be supported by surfers who care about what they put under their feet. Support local and build a relationship with your shaper!