Most average surfers don’t think much about who shapes their boards. We check out fins and caress rails, but our knowledge of surfboard construction is rudimentary at best. So when we dove into the planning stages of this year’s Surfboard Issue, we decided to pick the brains of shapers from all walks of East Coast life. Veterans and newbies. Production guys and backyarders. Traditionalists and futurists. Alternative proponents and high-performance obsessives. Our final tally of shaper conversations topped 42, and we couldn’t even begin to fit all of them into this issue. But we still spent nearly 24 full hours talking about foam consistency, resin-to-cloth ratios, custom vs. stock percentages, fin lay-ups, laminating techniques, and distribution strategy.

What struck us most in those conversations, however, was the intriguing humanity of these shapers. For whatever reason, they are the most outspoken members of our tribe. They tell it like it is far more than anyone else in the industry and their wealth of technical knowledge is jaw-dropping. But most of all, successful shapers prove that, with hard work and determination, anyone can pursue their dreams. Most of these guys occupy their current positions because they started at the bottom, slaved away doing menial labor, soaked up everything they could about their particular fascination, and still pursue it to this day. That’s something very few of us can say.

Of course, we know what you’re thinking, shapers: “Why didn’t you contact me?” Well, we can’t wait to hear your side of the shaping story. Send us an email — we want to hear from you. If we can make contact with every person shaping or glassing surfboards on the East Coast by next March, we might feel half as hardworking as the 42 shapers we talked to this year.

When we first formulated the idea of an annual Surfboard Issue back in 2008, we had no idea it’d turn out like this. But we can’t think of a better way to talk surfboards than by giving the craftsmen who form the backbone of our entire pursuit the opportunity to mouth off. So we hope you dig issue, which is almost entirely devoted to surfboards. And we hope you think of your shaper next time you pick up your board to paddle out.

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