Shaping up for the waves

Do you love surfing and have always dreamed of shaping your own board? Does your guy or gal spend endless hours fawning over surfboards in magazines and surf shops?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, Shaper Studios may just be your next destination. Founded in 2012 by Chris Clark and Derrik Kappala, the surfboard shaping workshop and retail space in North Park has been drawing in surfing veterans, celebrities, weekend riders and even some newbies to design and shape their own surfboards for both local and international waves.

Now equipped with a state of the art trailer named “Shaper Go,” Shaper Studios hits the road and entertains thousands at festivals, surf competitions and events up and down the West Coast.

PACIFIC recently spoke with Clark and Marketing Director Grey Lockwood on a sunny San Diego afternoon.

Why surfboard shaping?

CHRIS CLARK: We are surfers first and foremost, and we like making our own boards. Every surfer has wanted to try to shape a surfboard, but there’s never been a place to do it. We fulfilled that need in the marketplace. This business model didn’t exist. We had beta years where we refined it. With (version) 1.0., we started with a workshop. (Version) 2.0 was the workshop and retail.

How good of a surfer do you need to be to make a board?

Clark: You don’t you don’t even need to have surfed before. We have clients that the board they shaped here was their first board they ever owned.

How long does it take to make a board?

GREY LOCKWOOD: Shaping takes about 4 to 6 hours, and the glassing takes 3 to 5 days.

What’s glassing?

Lockwood: Think of shaping as sculpting. Glassing is where you can put in your artistic influence, designs and colors. You are adding fiberglass and resin to the outside of a foam surfboard to give it strength, and it’s where you add fins. Colors are all done free hand — you can use spray paint, markers, you name it.

How much does a board run?

Lockwood: Including the lesson, it ranges from $1,000 to $2,000. It’s a great gift idea, and it’s a huge part of our market too.

If I see a cool board in a surf magazine or on TV, can I make one like it?

Lockwood: Yes, we have all the tools and ability to create that vision. There is no limit to the creativity and what we can do. The only limit is your imagination.

Are there different types of boards for different types of waves?

Lockwood: San Diego has over 100 different surf spots, and there is a specific board for every type of wave, whether it’s the longboard friendly waves of Tourmaline or the more intense waves of Black’s Beach or Windansea. Most surfers will have between three to 10 surfboards for waves around the world. You can ride the same board to every wave around the world, but there are different setups.

Ok, walk us through a lesson.

Lockwood: You (the customer) come in and we discuss your surfing ability, where you are going to surf, and then pick out a proper foam blank. The day of class, we go through the templates, and draw the outline on the blank. Then you start cutting away at the outline, and plane it down to the right thickness.

We are there with you every step of the way, and we don’t let you make mistakes that would make you unhappy. After shaping the rails, adding concaves and contours to the board, creating foil (going thick to thin from front to back of board), you finish sanding, then polish and round everything off.

Who have you made boards for?

Clark: The guys from Foster the People, John Foreman from Switchfoot, Jen Smith, the women's longboard champion from San Diego (Cori Schumacher).

Where can San Diegans find you out there?

Clark: You can find with Shaper Go at music festivals, beer and wine fests and large competitions like the U.S. Open of Surfing at Huntington Beach. It’s been to KAABOO in Del Mar, Portland for the Stay Wild Adventure Expo, and to companies like Google and Ford.

What will people see when they visit the Shaper Go?

Lockwood: We do shaping and glassing demos and are also available to do custom boards for events and companies. It can be booked out for parties or corporate events. People can watch through the huge window or step right into the bay. And we have our own festival, the Self Shape Surf Festival.

We love festivals. Tell us more.

Clark: You can only be in the surfing contest if you have shaped your own board. It’s at Seaside Reef in Encinitas on May 12. There will be six to eight bands, a beachside beer garden, interactive beach events, food vendors and it’s free for the public.

What’s the best part about shaping?

Clark: The sense and feeling of accomplishment that you feel from making your own surfboard. You truly understand the art of it.

Shaper Studios: 4225 30th St., North Park, 619.889.1158, shaperstudios.com

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