Business and Culture of Surfing is a collection of insights, ideas and trends from Stuart Cornuelle.
SURFING Magazine’s 2011 Shaper of the Year is…You!
Well…not you. Somebody else. But you came close — or at least you were briefly in the running, whether you knew it or not, though you probably didn’t, because you’ve probably never shaped a surfboard, which is in no small part why you didn’t win.
But you were considered. Maybe not you personally, but a broad impersonal “You” that encompasses all collective surfers. There was a compelling argument that You should be Shaper of the Year in 2010 (in an oh-God-it’s-time-to-pick-Shaper-of-the-Year-again-and-we-need-to-be-original sort of way) in light of a few key trends and phenomena:
1. The great national DIY/Portland/small batch/hand-made/hipster/vintage/Brooklyn/authentic/Etsy/customization movement, which has pervaded every product from coffee to soap to surfboards this year.
2. Kelly Slater, whose work in self-surfboard design has coincided with a certain measure of competitive success.
3. Andrew Doheny’s shaping experiments, which represent a rare incursion into the dry, intractable world of board building among his peer group. Andrew is profiled by Chas Smith in our 2011 Surfboard Issue, out now.
4. A fervor for alternative craft like fish and egg shapes, which have a much wider margin for error than high-performance thrusters and are thus much easier for amateurs to make and ride. Championing this faction are Ryan Burch, Tyler Warren, and the creators and subjects of Korduroy.tv — whom I spoke with and wrote about, also in the Surfboard Issue.
So, with these factors taken into account, You — the untrained, undaunted individual — had a fair bit of momentum going into our Shaper of the Year discussions. But ultimately, You’re just not making surfboards of sufficient quality, or in sufficient quantities, to beat out the top professional shapers. Not this year. Nonetheless, as software continues to democratize the board-building process (see our profile of Hossegor-based shaper Christiaan Bradley, again in this month’s Surfboard Issue), You might have a solid shot in 2012.
This will make “real” shapers quite angry, I imagine. —Stuart Cornuelle