About SHJ

About SHJ:

 

Below is a little bit about me, my background in surfboard building, and how I got started:

I was born and raised in Orange County Ca and got started a little late in the surfing game, about sixteen years old. I was really into skateboarding (street skating) and that was my first love in board sports. I had a few sponsors and grew up around numerous pro skateboarders. I’ve always been intrigued by surfing and I got in the water for the first time at sixteen in the Newport/Huntington Beach area, and fell in love with the sport. As soon as I was hooked on surfing I got a job with a referral from a friend at a well-known glass shop / board building factory “Waterman’s Guild”. Waterman’s Guild is a well-known high-end board building factory for major board labels and a numerous pros.


Owner Greg Martz took me in and let me start by keeping everything clean and organized for the Laminators, Hot Coaters, Sanders and frequent Shapers. In the meantime I started shaping my own boards and experimenting right away, as I’ve always had a natural talent with coordinated creativity. A lot of really great shapers came through Waterman’s and would shape boards on a regular basis, which gave me the opportunity to progress my shaping skills and pick the brain of many top shapers. I also picked up on the tricks of the trade on every aspect of the board building process, from the shaping of the board, to proper lamination, hot-coating, fin installation, and finally, the finish sand of the board.


When Greg finally allowed me to start working on the shops production boards and not just my own, I really started to see what it takes to be a professional “production” board builder (no mistakes allowed, this is not my board anymore). Greg loved to keep the pressure on and if you made mistakes on a board or boards he would have the shaper call me at home to yell at me just for fun to scare me. One time the fin angle on a “Cole” (Cole Simler Surfboards) was one degree off and Cole called my house and my mom answered (again I was sixteen). Cole was saying I can’t be messing up his boards and he was going to come by the shop to talk to me… It was really more of a laugh for him and Greg but it didn’t feel like that at the time. I was scared shitless, and Cole is a big guy.
Overall, the majority of the guys were really nice and helpful as I learned the trade. I remember Bob Hurley (CEO of Billabong USA at the time and now “Hurley” clothing) used to help a lot with letting me watch him shape (yes Bob Hurley is a surfboard shaper also). I still remember him telling me, “Shane, you need to accentuate the concave in the board because when you glass the board it can fill in the concave and change.” It’s funny because I don’t think there is any other shaper I know of that learned to surf and shape at the same time as myself… It really helped me with my R&D.


As my shaping improved my surfing also improved, and over time I knew if I changed a board 1/16 of an inch or fin design I knew exactly how it would affect the board in the water. I’ve also learned how important fin design and set up are; as I received my first patent in fin system design at age nineteen (this was seventeen years ago). Now I know why Cole was so upset. I’ve had the pleasure of working at many shops in the presents of many shapers over the years and have learned something from each and every one of them: Dano, Barry Vandermeulen, Cordell Miller custom surfboards Newport Beach Ca, Promer, Bob Hurley, Steve Rex, Mike Estrada, Eisaku, Barry Deffenbaugh custom surfboards Huntington Beach Ca, Mark McConnell, Cole, Chris Champion, Cino, Sean Jenson, Pat Rawson, John Carper and his ghost shaper at the time (I think his name was Jeff who helped a lot but it’s been a while), just to name a few influences.

 

You can learn a lot from watching and picking the brains of many shapers over the years. To be honest I was a real pain to some shapers growing up because I just wouldn't leave them alone and was almost obsessed with the trade. When I was about 20 years old I remember one shaper put a tarp over the entrance to his shaping area so I couldn't watch him shape anymore, because I watched him shape every day for weeks (poor guy). Yes I was a pain and some guy's don’t like competition but I would do whatever it takes to be the best at what I do. Lots of shapers are too proud and full of ego to ask any other shapers/board builders for help and in my opinion it's just another advantage for myself. Thinking you are the greatest/best just gives you a reason to stop learning. I still to this day ask rookie shapers questions because some of the best at what they do were once rookies, and you can never be too proud.When there is a test day at the local surf shop, yep I'm there testing all the big brand boards (Shhh don’t tell the shapers, I keep it low pro). Lots of shapers are again to proud to ride any other brand and again it's to their downfall for the free R&D on how different designs work. Again you have to do whatever it takes to be the best in your field of work. This is why I worked at so many different shops to see every aspect and theory to how boards are built for optimum performance.
I’ve found that no one can really teach you the "true" fundamentals of how board design works and this important factor can only come with the “individual” talent of shaping, surfing and understanding why surfboards react in certain ways combined into a true R&D program. In my honest opinion, experience is not the major factor in being very good at anything (but of course it helps) or understanding board design. If this was the case then every surfer who’s been surfing for twenty years would be pro, every golfer who has played for twenty years would be very good and every person in their respective field of work for a long period of time would be the best at what they do. We all know this is not the case. People can be average (or terrible) at something forever, while a rookie can pass you by within the blink of an eye with talent. It’s just the nature of the beast.


Years later I went on to working and shaping out of “Clear Water Glassing” with Ray Promer, Gary Edgar (Rip) and Dano, in Costa Mesa, CA. I worked there and at surrounding shops (Pure Glass or old Wave Tools) for a few years, and it was a memorable experience with some great guys. And again, I learned a lot.
From there I met a great guy, Mark Nakashima of Chuck Dent Surf Center/Custom Surfboards Huntington Beach Ca, (surfboard shaping/ glassing factory). Mark taught me a lot and really helped me take my board building to the next level. Mark’s shop glasses many top label boards such as Al Merrick of Channel Islands, and when the WCT comes to Huntington Beach Mark glasses many of the pros boards. Mark also houses many top shapers and traveling top shapers all over the world (Simon Anderson was there for a bit which was pretty cool). It’s great being around so many different personalities and unique skill sets because you really gain the experience and knowledge of every avenue of board building. Mark gave me the opportunity to make a ton of boards and there were a lot of shapers shaping out of Chuck Dent (custom surfboards Huntington Beach Ca). That whole experience really helped my progression.


I think there are a lot of board sellers out there today who don’t really have a lot of experience in the board building process or put in the water time for R&D to progress their surfing, which, in turn, will help progress their shaping. If you are a board builder and you are not a high performance or performance surfer (or at the least surf A Lot), how would you know what to change on the board to help a board perform better in high performance situations? I think feedback from certain surfers can only go so far and you need that feeling of knowing exactly the way the board is going to perform as you are shaping it from your experience in the water. It’s almost as if when you are shaping the board, you are surfing the board in your mind at the same time, knowing how the changes are going to affect the board regarding performance.

This is also a major key factor of being able to translate what changes you need to make to customers boards to help them tune in their equipment to be able to surf the way they want. If you just listen to feedback only, you will have no base for building your surfboards because everyone has a opinion on what works best. There are no shortcuts and it's alot of hard work, time and effort. With the shaping machines these days everyone wants to be a shaper and does make it easy to buy your way into the craft but people find out quickly you can't shortcut your way through 20+ years of board building knowledge and I think customers know the difference.

 
I’m 38 years old today and have traveled quite a bit to the standard surf destinations including Indo, Bali, Sumbawa, Tahiti, Mexico, etc … I still love making boards today, and have been for about 20+ years , all the while still learning. I like staying close and in touch with my customers and love talking design. It’s a great feeling helping someone progress in their sport from the beginner to pro level. I know how important sports or passions can be. Pushing to be better in every sport I’ve been involved with (I’ve raced Motocross as well) has helped me in everyday life. That feeling of pushing and getting better in one aspect of life or sport will give you confidence and will help you push on to your next goal and feel that anything is possible. If I can help someone get just a little better in our sport, then I’ve won!
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Shane “SHJ”

 

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