So what if you had the opportunity to sit down with Sergio Pininfarina (Ferrari) or a Carrol Shelby (Shelby Motor Co.) to have a sports car designed specifically for you? Now, translate that over to surfboards. Eric Arakawa. Does that name ring any bells? It should. North Shore shaper. Oahu legend. Hmmm. Still nothing? Ok. Lets try again. Andy Irons? Now you got it. This guy has made boards for over 10 World Champions and is the go to shaper for a lot of surfers who come to surf Hawaii´s North Shore season. So it wasn’t even a question when we were asked if we would like to have a board shaped personally by him on our last trip to the Lanzarote. Here is how it all went down:
Already a couple of weeks in to our last surf trip to some secluded islands in the Canaries, we spent the last week surfing around Lanzarote, home of Europe´s version of Pipe, ma.k.a El Quemao and La Santa. Ok so we didn’t actually surf it though. But we had some epic sessions all alone elsewhere. Information, I am not willing to so readily give. The thing was that we wanted to go check out the famous La Santa Surf Company. Maybe we could even pick up a nice little souvenir to bring back home. However, it wasn’t really a surf shop that you just go see some inventory and buy off the rack. Hello this isn’t fucking Zara. This was an actual factory. The grit before the glassing. So drop-ins weren’t really welcomed. But hey, we were also accompanied with a well connected friend who went kind of speechless after making the first phone call. “Arakawa is here shaping boards.” Whaaaaat?? Can we meet him? “No.” Unless and of course we want to get a board shaped. Well that wasn’t in the budget but you only live once they say. Right?
So what they do in La Santa is a really cool concept. They invite world famous shapers to come shape with them, all expenses paid, with a little salary to boost orders and bring awareness to there brands. Of course its beneficial for both parties. La Santa Surfing Co. has had shapers such as Timmy Patterson and Jeff Doc among many others. Pretty snazzy. So finding the place isn’t that easy cause its just someone´s garage. But walking in you could feel it was something special. Scattered trophies collecting dust and a few checks from past competitions hanging on the walls where the leveler wasn’t used. 1st place La Santa comp , 3rd place El Quemao, all payed to the order of Manuel Lezcamo. The guy who we had been talking to over the phone. This dude is no joke. Any Youtube or Google search and you´ll see him getting barreled like its his job. But I guess it kinda is. Well, he made introductions and I think Arakawa was relieved that 2 out of the 3 didn’t require a translator. So lets, talk shop. Talking to a shaper is a pretty cool experience. He gives you a little sheet to fill out with some basics. Height, weight, regular or goofy, type of board. It goes on. But the best part was having the conversation. Explaining what type of boards you currently surf, what you like and don´t like about it, where you’ll be doing most of your surfing. Home break: beachbreak. So he recommends this model with these tweaks. In my case it was like he was a psychic, in the sense that he was completing my sentences about what I wanted before I could even utter them. I guess I am hardly his first. He even suggested a slight change on the curve of the rails to add a different effect on my turns. When the design was complete, he looked at me and said, “Hey, I really liked how this one turned out.” Fireworks. Even though a lot of this stuff was over my head, that was all I needed to hear. And just like that it was over. A strong handshake and a grateful thank you, he puts his facemask on for dust purposes (this was pre-covid19 by the way) and gets right back to shaping.
Guys, if you are in the market for a new board especially for those of you who already have had some time surfing I highly recommend you sit down with a shaper, even better if he is a local one. It´s a process I know, but it´s something special. You can pick his/her brain and get a better understanding of the hardware which in turn makes you a more knowledgeable surfer. Hell, you might even have some fun. Let me put it to you this way, its something special when you also see your name on the foam.
Written by: Adrian Pacer