top of page

Surfboard Shaper * V

illustration Zen Del Rio

Surfing is our religion. We deem our surfboard as talisman and the shaper as conduit between rider and the esoteric knowledge. His word is gospel, he is our link to the Unknown. He carves out sacred totems for the aspiring surfer. The surfboard is a totem of power, and the shaping room a time honored tradition. Shaping is ritual. An epoch ago, surfboards carved from a tree, took a whole year to shape. Board builders followed sacred ritual in preparing the olo for the Ali’i. An offering of red kimu fish was left at the trunk of the chosen Willi Willi, their symbolic Tree of Life. Shaping was the union of matter and spirit. Thereby enshrined as bygone guru, the shaper as symbolist, is subsequently not without precedent. The mandorla is an ancient symbol that has resemblance to the surfboard. As the intersection of two circles, the mandorla is known as the gateway unto the Divine, the soul, and the holy spirit. The mind’s eye has seen the coming of the glory of the board! The surfboard shaper treats surfing as sacred and is the Zen surfer. Surfing is his meditation. As the ocean and waves are our teachers, so it is that he cultivates his surf experience. He knows that like each blank, each wave is different. She is student of subtlety, and passionate in scholarship. He is philosopher and surfboard savant. He is keen to advise regarding quandary or perplexity. He takes in all hidden variables and gives a measured response. As transcendent surf swami, his willing disciples seek him out when their board, if not their life, has fallen apart. They come to him and pay homage to his local phenomena in pursuit of their personal Excalibur. As it befits his genius, he grants wishes as watertoy maker and tutelary spirit. He interprets and translates; she listens well. He pays attention and is masterful as he distills out feedback. Her humility is her cornerstone. He has learned that an ego, even of eminence earned, will bring down even the most bohemian of masters. His challenge is to maintain empty mind, because he knows, be it helgie or hellman, the life teacher has found him again.

The underground shaper has a deep connection to the tribe and works with the welfare of our ocean peoples in mind. She gives unto others, but can be humbled by her public. Their candor can be compost for her soul, but when resistant to input, her relationships do not flower nor grow. The soil of her mind is then not watered nor aerated. She is found indoors, moored to her shaping bay, showered in foam dust and fiberglass. The surfboard shaper is a working paradox. As craftsman, he has healing hands and can tell how a board will work the second he holds it in his hands. He seeks perfection and strives for consistency. He sets parameters, and documents what works. He repeats his methods to ensure the integrity of each custom shape. But his craft is toxic. The shaper has grown righteous and unaccommodating. Once experimental, he now trusts and invests, in outmoded materials that are not working, for our Mother Ocean and Earth. Technology enslaves, and has left the surfboard for commodity, and shaping as no longer an art. Endlessly distracted, the shaper is not keeping up, nor progressing. Our organic surfboard is behind schedule.

The surfboard shaper is chronic innovator and knows that no foil is without fail. He sees our disappointment as opportunity to innovate. Like on a wave, the shaper “can change direction in design, and has the gumption to think its application through to the absurd extreme, and then think it back to the practical.” Make the absurd practical. Be open to the exchange and sharing of information. Apply your knowledge and experience, and know that anything worth doing well, takes time. “Cherish what you create.” As fellow artisan we look to the surfboard shaper for guidance. We have hope and faith in him as our spiritual leader. He opens doors for us unto the transcendental and recondite. The shaper shapes attitudes. We find that when our surfboard is good, life is good. “A full life comes from a full quiver.” The surfboard shaper defines our emotional edge and lays out a realistic life template. He personalizes our quest. As sage he knows the value of self study, and as shepherd encourages us to stay within ourselves. As student, he is silent, and privy to a simple truth. You are the teacher.

Recent Posts
bottom of page