Trade show is, and always has been, about the board

Trade show is, and always has been, about the board
Surfing icon Rusty Preisendorfer, right, is this year’s honoree at The Boardroom surf tradeshow. He and his son Clint, left, will serve as judges in the Icons of Foam Tribute shape off. Courtesy photo

DEL MAR — The show, since its beginnings, has always been about one thing: the surfboard.

“It’s a symbol of freedom, it’s a symbol of adventure, it’s a symbol of enduring youth,” said Scott Bass, the man behind The Boardroom, a two-day surf industry event celebrating those who shape, design, build and craft surfboards.

“You can’t be a surfer without a surfboard, no matter how many surfing T-shirts you buy,” said Bass. “So the surfboard is sort of that one thing — that pervasive icon that everyone that’s a surfer can relate to.”

Another icon most any surfer can relate to is Rusty Preisendorfer.

After more than 45 years of shaping surfboards, the “Rusty” name has seemingly become synonymous with surfing and with handcrafted, precision surfboards, Bass explained.

And that’s why selecting Preisendorfer as this year’s honoree of the Icons of Foam Tribute came as a “no-brainer.”

Each year the event has honored a trendsetter and expert craftsman surfboard shaper that has influenced surfing in some way.

Preisendorfer will join previous honorees as Ben Aipa, Terry Martin and Carl Ekstrom to name a few.

“The general public, and surfers as well, really appreciate craftsmanship and things that are handcrafted,” Bass said.

There’s so much stuff being shipped over from Asia that we’re surrounded by it, he said. “Whenever there’s a finely crafted desk or guitar or a surfboard, something that’s hand built here in America, I think that the general public is sort of drawn towards that.”

Much of that attitude, he thinks, is because there’s just not that much of it around anymore.

And that’s part of the reason they honor the craftsmen of the surfboard world like Preisendorfer. It’s sort of a dying breed, Bass said, adding that there are just not a lot of guys that build handcrafted anything anymore.

Honoring Preisendorfer will include a surfboard shaping competition. Six shapers, including Cardiff’s Chris Christenson of Christenson Surfboards will take part in the competition. What makes it special for Christenson is that growing up as a kid and all throughout high school, Rusty was always his favorite brand of surfboard, and his favorite surfer was Mark Occhilupo, a longtime rider of Rusty surfboards.

“Now that I get to compete in this event and honor them both is neat,” Christenson said.

The shapers will have an hour and a half to complete a board. Christenson said that’ll be enough time to finish it.

While it depends on the style of board of they’re building, he said that if they had to, all of the shapers competing could make a board in under an hour.

“We’ve been doing this a long time,” said Christenson.

The Boardroom takes place May 16 and May 17 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds.

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