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My Surfboard: First Shaping

An Exploration of San Clemente’s Strong DIY Board Building Tradition

I am not a surfer; I just play one on TV.  Ha ha! This is how I feel when I think of myself as a surfer- sometimes I feel totally legit in the line-up and sometimes I feel like I don’t know which end is up. When a friend asked me if I wanted to shape a board a few summers back, I didn’t think twice. This task is on my bucket list so I said yes without hesitation. Being a Colorado transplant from the Midwest in a shaping room in San Clemente, I felt very out of my league. I was pretty lucky to be among experienced local board shapers who welcomed me into their pack with open arms  and guidance and I was determined to make a something that would at least float. First, I bought a 9’6” blank at  Bashams Factory Shop in town.

The shaping rom was a garage in an apartment building where a myriad of locals lived and congregated often sharing stories abut their sunny days at Lowers, Uppers or Churches - surfing hot spots for the experienced rider (no kooks allowed). As a small crew chatted and compared their days right outside the garage, I was lAsher focused on this white piece of foam in front of me. I started with a hand saw, then did some power planing, sanding, more planing more sanding. It was never ending. Eventually it started to tale the shape of a real surf board. I worked on the board for about twelve hours in total and imagined what it would be like to ride this thing the whole time. I could have spent more time perfecting my lines, but I my time was up in the garage. I had to be happy with the end result.

In the Blue Room


As it was time to return to Colorado, I left the board with a friend who had knew a guy who could glass it. I did not get to use it until the next summer and I thought about my first paddle out with it all winter.


I call the board “The Zuchinni. One look at it and the reason is apparent. It was far from pretty, but it was mine and I was in love. I was thrilled with the end result.

I drove with my family to the to San O’s, parked at Four Doors, quickly waxed my new creation and put in my fin. The paddle out was amazing -much easier than my original big box foamie. It glided over the mushy water breaking by the shore.  I felt excited and ready to catch my first wave. The Zucchini did not disappoint. It was a breeze to paddle and I loved riding many memorable waves with it.

The Zuchinni has provided much conversation and questions from other riders. This shaping experience felt like a right of passage, which provided me with a semi-enlightened understanding of what goes into making a good surfboard. I am forever grateful to the shaping room crew for their advice and support and for those twelve hours, making me feel like a local. Mahalo!