Craftsmen of the Board: Local artisans elevate the surfboard

Craftsmen of the Board: Local artisans elevate the surfboard
Local craftsman Matt Calvani works on a surfboard at the Bing Surfboards factory warehouse on Tuesday in Encinitas. Photo by Shana Thompson

On a relatively standard Southern California weekend in 1971, Rusty Preisendorfer, an aspiring surfboard shaper at the time, reveled in a bounty of new-age designs sprawled out before him at his very first surfboard show at the Del MarFairgrounds.

Forty-five years and a few thousand foam blanks later, Preisendorfer, along with dozens of other shapers, will return to the fairgrounds for a surfboard expo that will serve to inspire a new generation of shapers.

And just like in ‘71, the surfboard will once again be king.

Surfboard craftsman Matt Calvani of Encinitas meticulously planes and shapes a surfboard at the Bing Surfboards factory on Tuesday morning in Encinitas. Calvani, who won the 2013 Boardroom: Icons of Foam Tribute to Terry Martin shape-off, will compete at The Boardroom International Surfboard Show on May 5 & 6 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Photos by Shana Thompson

The 11th annual Boardroom International Surfboard Show presented by US Blanks,  is the brainchild of Encinitas resident Scott Bass.

“The show brings together all of the top surfboard builders, shapers, designers, and craftsman—and features over 1,000 state-of-the-art surfboards, plus wetsuits, fins, gear, and art,” explained Bass. “But the big draw, at least what I get excited for, is the shape-off.”

The shape-off is simple in concept: eight shapers each receive an hour and a half to replicate a classic surfboard. The boards are judged and the winner receives $1000.

Legendary surfboard shaper Marc Andreini will be honored at The Boardroom International Surfboard Show presented by US Blanks on May 5 & 6 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Courtesy photo

This years’ honoree, Marc Andreini, has been designing, shaping and building custom surfboards for over 50 years. Andreini continues to be an active and prolific shaper, evolving and experimenting with different board types. Most recently, Andreini led the the charge with the Greenough inspired Edge design concept.

“It is an honor for me to be considered amongst the likes of Diff, Yater, Bradbury, Merrick, all of the past Icons.” said Andreini. “I’m thankful to all of them for leading the way, and to all of the craftsmen — and craftswomen — in our industry.”

This years shape-off has a different twist, it’s a tournament of champions format; past winners are competing to determine the best of the best in a single elimination bracket format.

“Think March Madness brackets, man on man shaping heats,” explained Bass. “One of the competitors is Encinitas resident and business owner Matt Calvani of BING Surfboards. Matt won the Terry Martin shape-off in 2013.”

Past honorees include Mike Diffenderfer, Bill Caster, John Bradbury, Dick Brewer, Renny Yater, Doug Haut, Simon Anderson, Carl Ekstrom, Mark Richards, Rich Price, Terry Martin, Ben Aipa, Rusty Preisendorfer, John Mel, Gerry Lopez, and Al Merrick.

Ultimately, the goal of the Boardroom and the Icons of Foam shape-off is to show the world that the surfboard’s not simply a commodity, but rather something that resonates much deeper. “I hope this show has the same kind of impact on the next generation of surfers that the show back in 1971 had on Rusty,” surmises Bass. “The surfboard industry is huge part of San Diego’s heritage. Bob Simmons, Gordon & Smith, Don Hansen, Skip Frye, Rusty, all the way to Rob Machado. You can’t deny it.”

What: The Boardroom International Surfboard Show presented by US Blanks.

When: May 5 & 6  Saturday 10AM-6PM & Sunday 10AM-4PM

Where: Del Mar Fairgrounds Exhibition Hall

Cost: $10 in advance / $15 at the door /U15 free

Plus: Great deals on boards and gear, live music, a vintage surf swap, a surf auction, glassing demos and exhibitions

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