Having grown up in southern California, my proximity to the beach made it relatively easy to gravitate towards the ocean. Even though I’m the only surfer in my entire family, beach days were an absolute necessity for everyone around me. The first time I stood on a surfboard was at San Onofre in 1987 and I knew after one session that this would be my path in life.
Fast forward 30 years and thousands of sessions later I finally got the chance to shape my first custom longboard by hand. I’ve always been quite handy with tools, building everything from tree houses to custom furniture, so I figured I’d be a natural. Like anything worth doing in life the process of building a hand-shaped surfboard is quite a long road filled with excitement, anxiety, hard work, and lots of questions.
I set in to build a 60’s style noserider, a 9’4” x 22 ¾” x 2 ¾” singlefin wrapped in Volan glass, which is the only type of board I’ve ever been any good at riding. Actually shaping the board from a raw blank took a few days of refinement since this was #001 and I wanted to take my time to learn the proper steps of traditional board building. I kept tweaking little things like the foil, rocker, rails, and concave, knowing that I wouldn’t be okay with an average board.
Once the board was ready for glassing I started daydreaming about my first noseride and the feeling of accomplishment while floating on a craft that I built myself.
But little did I know glassing a surfboard properly was much more difficult than the actual shaping process. I started to have lots of questions like, “would this board even float?” “What if I’m not any good at building surfboards?” These questions haunted me on and off for a few weeks while I looked for excuses why I didn’t have time to finish the process.
With tons of help from the SHAPER crew I finally finished sanding out all the little imperfections that would separate my first custom log from the rest of the pack and off to the beach I went. I ended up out at La Jolla Shores which tends to suit traditional style logging quite well. There I was, sitting with a pack of my friends who had all been shaping for years now on an epic chest high summer day, a bit nervous to spin and go on just any wave since there could only be one first wave on self-shape #001.
I finally saw a wave come my way and once I got to my feet I realized I hade done it. I had successfully built a custom surfboard that actually works. It doesn’t just work, this thing is magic! It nose rides better than any board I’ve ever ridden and the trim speed I can generate is unlike anything I’ve ever felt on a log.
Now, with a few boards under my belt, the addiction to creating such an amazing piece of art is absolutely intoxicating. I’ve always been a huge surf nerd, learning about surfboard design and surf history, but having something as special as surfboard-building skills under my belt now is unlike any feeling I’ve ever had. Surfing continues to light my path in life and now the light is brighter than ever. - Aloha
- Grey Lockwood