SOLANA BEACH — Growing up, shaping surfboards was never part of the plan — but then, neither was having cancer.
Yet for the last 23 years Scott Sherwood has shaped well into the tens of thousands of surf boards and for the past 11 years, survived a cancer diagnosis that gave him only six months to live.
“I did not have any idea that I would ever grow up shaping surfboards at all,” said Sherwood, the 46-year-old owner and co-founder of Avasin, the now 2-year-old surfboard company that started in Solana Beach.
“I wanted to grow up and get into architecture,” the SDSU alum added. And he did do that.
But for the past 23 years he’s been shaping surfboards for some of the best riders out there.
And this last November, Sherwood celebrated the 11th anniversary of surviving his cancer.
“My cancer hasn’t progressed,” Sherwood said.
A surfer in his own right, Sherwood would buy his boards from San Diego-based shaper Jeff Baker. It was from Baker that Sherwood learned his new trade, essentially leaving architecture behind for planers, foam and fiberglass.
He remembers the very first board he shaped — mostly he remembers it going into the dumpster.
“I definitely had no idea what I was getting into,” he said. “I picked up that planer and it just did its own thing.”
Still, Sherwood said working on his first board was fun.
“I think it was probably the most fun board that I’ve ever shaped and…it was not really rideable.”
As the adage goes, it was the third try that was the charm for Sherwood, when he started to get the knack for shaping, ultimately completing a board that he called “glass-worthy.”
To this day, his cousin has the board. It was a short board, Sherwood explained, with no logos on it — only the number 0001. The successful board was a product of his becoming familiar with the shaping tools of the trade.
Two years ago, Sherwood with co-founder Seth Stuckert, began Avasin, a surfboard company that he describes as being like a family.
Using guerilla-marketing tactics and getting help and support from people in the North County coastal cities Sherwood said it was hard not to walk down the streets seeing people wearing the company’s iconic logo — a hatchet — on shirts and hats.
He said he was looking to see Avasin become one of the top brands in the industry. “We want to take this to the highest level possible and we have the means to do it,” he said.
The company is in the process of shifting its headquarters from Solana Beach to Carlsbad this year.
Avasin has produced about 1,000 boards so far in its second year of business, that’s a lot for so young a company, according to Sherwood.
Where the ideas for shaping boards come from isn’t necessarily the waves, but rather, from the riders of those waves.
The trends are always coming from the top surfers — Kelly Slater — those guys, Sherwood said.
“I’m lucky enough to have a guy that’s riding our boards because he’s a trend setter — Ricky Whitlock,” Sherwood said.
Whitlock, one of Avasin’s team riders is becoming known as a big wave rider.
“That’s where (Whitlock’s) really pushing the limits. Basically making me produce,” he said. “He will tell me if a board works or not. He knows how to tell me how to make it better, if you need more rocker, less rocker. He’s in my shaping room half the time I’m in there, working with me,” he said.
“What Ricky’s brought to the table is just trying to do new things that are faster and faster,” Sherwood said.
The average cost of a Scott Sherwood-shaped board starts at around $600.
“The most fun boards to shape are for team riders and custom boards because you’re dealing with the person that’s going to take that board when it’s done. And nine times out of 10 you’re going to get feedback,” Sherwood said. “And that’s what I love as a shaper. I love feedback — I’ll take positive or negative — just communication with the people that are riding my stuff.”
His customers are largely made up of friends over the last 25 years.
“People just want boards that are going to be fast,” Sherwood said.