The San Diego surf scene has had lots of personalities over the decades.
The city has been home to some founding fathers of surf culture. Woody Brown, Skeeter Malcolm, Jim "Mouse" Robb, Doc Paskowitz and others built their own surfboards and created a thriving surf culture that still stands strong. The board builders who came after those founders - names such as Larry Gordon, Michael Hynson, Skip Frye and Rusty Preisendorfer - all mean something to surfers around the world.
The board-building craftsmanship of the local legends is a tradition that few have been able to achieve or maintain. There is, however, a small group of young San Diego surfboard shapers that has embraced the traditions of the old school and is choosing a strong work ethic over easy results. If you look around, you'll see that's a rare thing.
Surfboard shaper Josh Hall is happy to continue with the traditions of those who have come before him. Although Hall has been shaping surfboards for more than 15 years, it was just a year ago that he made the move to create his own surfboard factory.
"Most shapers take their blanks to a local glass shop, as I had done for over a decade," Hall said. "There's nothing wrong with that, but I felt like I wanted to have more control over how my boards were being built so I could put out the highest quality boards possible."
With that in mind, Hall and close friend Dave Washkowiak discussed the idea when, as luck would have it, they were approached by a board-maker who was moving out of his old factory in Linda Vista. After a few discussions, they moved on the opportunity and soon partnered up to open the doors of Shoreline Glassing, a fully in-house surfboard factory in the Morena neighborhood. It is 100 percent dedicated to building the highest quality handmade surfboards possible.
"There are hundreds of surfboards in the marketplace but very few are built to the highest standards," Hall said. "Most of the larger brands are focusing on big numbers and are turning out hundreds of surfboards a month. There's no way to produce the highest quality at that volume. While those large brands do a great job, it's nothing I was interested in."
Hall and Washkowiak cut the learning curve and hired friends who also happened to be some of the finest surfboard craftsmen in San Diego.
Each week, the crew builds small batches of boards while holding up the highest standards of quality. Within a few months of opening, other shapers, such as surf legend Frye, had taken notice and started asking Shoreline Glassing to build some of his boards as well.
Now, Hall and his partner Washkowiak are happy that their quality-over-quantity approach is very much in demand, and they couldn't be happier with their decision to continue on the path of the great San Diego board builders.
Shoreline Glassing, 5311 Grant St., Morena, (858) 344-7882
As a lifelong San Diegan, Ken Lewis has surfing and ocean life in his DNA. A 30-year surfer himself, Lewis has worked in the surf and skate industry for most of his career. Send him thoughts about the surfing and fitness worlds to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Instagram @hanger18.