Editor’s Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time: eccentric San Diego craftsman Xanadu.
Name: Xanadu Surfboards
Zone: San Diego, Brazil, Australia, South Africa
Years Shaping: Over 30
Boards per week: 40
Specialty: High Performance surfboard
IS YOUR BUSINESS BETTER OR WORSE SINCE THE CLARK FOAM SHUTDOWN?
Well the economy has been slowing down, but if you don’t count that it’s been better for me. There’s more foam, it’s better quality foam and the prices are decent. Sales is less than I used to do because the economy is not as good. It was steady until last year but it’s definitely slowed down but not because of the foam, just the economy.
DO YOU FEEL POLYURETHANE FOAM/POLYESTER RESIN WILL ALWAYS BE THE DOMINANT SURFBOARD CONSTRUCTION?
Well, at the moment is seems that way. I think it will be a while before that changes because other than Taj and Dayyan Neve, everyone is riding PU boards still. Those two are the only guys I see riding epoxy boards on tour. I don’t see that much change because of that. For at least the next 3-5 years I don’t see it shifting away from that.
DO YOU FEEL THERE IS AN INCREASING OR DECREASING APPRECIATION FOR CUSTOM SURFBOARDS?
A lot of people think that it’s because of China, but I don’t think China is much of a threat to top brands in the United States because it’s a different kind of client. Maybe here and there, like a dad is going to buy his son a board and maybe because he is struggling he wants to buy something that is cheaper or going to last longer, but that doesn’t affect my business. A lot of my clients are guys with jobs and want their own boards shaped. So I don’t think it affects the top shapers as much. Some people think it’s a problem, and I think maybe it is like on the east coast but not so much in California.
ARE QUADS INCREASING OR DECREASING?
Declining. Most of the guys will probably tell you the same. The quad limits performance. There’s only so much you can do on a quad. I mean, it works for some who just want to go fast down the line maybe, but for me it’s declining.
WHATS KEEPING YOU AFLOAT RIGHT NOW?
Shop accounts right now. I don’t sell many boards out of my shop, that’s mostly team guys, friends, or industry people, but really I avoid that. So shop accounts are really big for me.
DO YOU THINK YOUR SURFBOARD PRODUCTION WILL GO OVERSEAS?
I’ve been avoiding that. Some people have done it but I want to try to keep it for Brazil, South Africa, Australia and here. I bounce around a bit and travel to shape my boards. I bounce around and make boards for those countries when I’m there.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHEN YOU SHAPE?
When I want to get a lot of work done I listen to fast beats. Fast beats for me can be trance music or maybe some heavy metal. If I want to really hand shape some boards, I use classic rock.
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON A SINGLE BOARD?
It depends. Depends how it comes out of the machine. Average probably like 40 minutes a board or so.
DO YOU SPEND MORE TIME ON THE COMPUTER OR IN THE SHAPING BAY?
I’m still in the shaping bay. I love shaping boards so much. That’s it for me in life surfing and shaping boards.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TEAMRIDER FEEDBACK?
Well I get feedback from everybody, so I compile it all and I see if everyone has the same kind of feedback. If the same negative thing comes back then I know what to fix. This year we were very good at fixing boards and checking the problems. The same problems we fixed on WCT guys were the same from everyone so we fixed that.
WHAT KIND OF BOARD DO YOU ENJOY SHAPING THE MOST RIGHT NOW?
I’m really tuned into the high performance boars right now. I’ve been really paying attention to the tour and I think we’re coming up with some amazing things, some really good boards.
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TO SURF?
Depends you know, when I go overseas to shape I shape way more boards, but I also get to surf more because I have people over there who handle the business side of things. When I’m in California I handle most of the business side so it’s hard to get time to surf. When I’m home I probably surf 10 times a month. I travel tons though so I surf more when I travel.
ARE YOU ACTIVELY PURSUING “GREENER” AVENUES IN YOUR SURFBOARD PRODUCTION?
We did some bio foam stuff. I’ve been using Ice 9 blanks. Some of those are really decent, the MDI ones. They have a different flex but I’m working that out right now, but I think MDI and Ice 9 I think they’ll be alright.
MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler