Would you ask a professional golfer to help you learn to swim? Or a professional chef to build your house…of course not. You would ask someone who is experienced and skilled in that field to perform the task at hand. This idea should be carried over to who is shaping your boards. You shouldn’t have a shaper who solely longboards shape you a thruster for your trip to Indo; just like you shouldn’t have a shaper who has never cross-stepped on a single fin shape you a board for your trip to Scorpion Bay.
Don’t get me wrong, I am a huge proponent of shaper loyalty and my shaper, Jeremy Covington (Surfboards by Jeremy), surfs like I do and because of that he has shaped my last five or six boards. But if I ever get the inclination to charge big waves I will turn to a shaper who has experience shaping big wave guns. Try to do more than just know your shaper, but surf with your shaper. Not only will you be stoked and be able to give immediate feedback as to what works and doesn’t work, but he will be stoked to see the rails, the tail, the rocker, the nose and, most importantly, your surfing in action.
If you don’t have a relationship with your shaper at least know how they surf. I don’t know Matt Biolas from …Lost surfboards but I see him at Lowers enough to know how he surfs. If you don’t live near your shaper at least know where your shaper is from. Shapers shape what they know, some know point breaks so their boards are better suited for that type of wave, some shapers surf heavy barrels and their boards will typically be better suited for fat barrels…of course they will be able to shape a board for other conditions but it won’t be familiar or comfortable.
The guys on tour practice this very idea. A lot of the guys switch shapers as the tour travels around the globe because they know that the best boards are going to come from the guys who know the wave best. So next time you head into Jack’s surf shop or order your next board from your trusty shaper, make sure to do your research because you’ll have more peace of mind when the times come to put the money down.