Eye of the Storm

We just got our first storm system of the season so thought I'd post the nice fall colored board I did for Nate.

This 6'4" swallow tail twinzer is inspired by M.R.'s original twin fin but has a modern rocker and foil. 

It's built in my styrolite construction, an EPS core with an epoxy lamination. This really gives it a light and zippy feel.


A Shaper's Quiver

For many years now my performance, "go to" quiver has consisted of 3 boards.

The 6'2" squash is for the average, waist to slightly overhead surf. This board is a good grovel board and likes softer waves.

The 6'4" round pin is the utility, all around board for head high to 8 foot surf. This board has the biggest range and during fall and winter in Santa Cruz gets surfed the most.

The 6'9" is simply an extended version of the 6'4" with a pulled in tail. This board gets whipped out when the surf has a bit more grunt, in the 8 - 12 foot range. Anything bigger than that and I move into my gun quiver which is another story.

For this year I put a little more curve into the outlines which I'm really digging. All in all, a 3 board quiver like this has treated me well. What kind of quiver is working for you?


The Tale of Tails

Like a good pack rat I've collected my share of tail templates. And being a bit fastidious I keep them sorted by shape. Squash tails to the right, round pins in the middle, and random curves to the left. The center, top, round pin template is one I made over 25 years ago and it still gets play on a regular basis. The nifty hieroglyphic marks on the templates are how I keep track of what curves I use on each customer's board.


The Green Hornet

Matt is a big bloke at 6'5" and pushing 2 bills. Yet he surfs a performance shortboard with the nimble quickness of any welter weight emulating the latest WCT moves. But being a savvy guy his golf (surf) bag is full of clubs. For quite some time we have been recreating a vintage Lightning Bolt diamond tail he dragged in claiming it's magical abilities.

I believe this is the 4th edition in the past ten years. I managed to whip this one out for an Indo Trip.

I was left green with envy.


6'0" Epoxy Shortboard - SOLD

For sale:

I made this little 6'0" epoxy shooter for the type of surf we'll see this fall and winter. $595. SOLD

6'4" Quad Fish - SOLD

For sale:

A new 6'4" Quad Fish for the bigger surfer. A board that is well versed in point break arcs yet is beach break savvy. $585.

6'0" Keel Fish - SOLD

For sale:

This 6'0" Keel Fish has a classic outline but the buck stops there. Sporting a modern rocker and rail with a slight vee and double barrel concave, it's meant to glide and skate but feel comfortable in and around the pocket. $495.


Sacred Craft Wrap Up

Here it is, the board I shaped at Sacred Craft. I was quite pleased with the final shape and stoked to copy such a cool board.

Castor 6'10" wing pintail and how it should fit in the blank provided.

Tuning the rails in the fish bowl / torture chamber.

1 1/2 hours to shape, time's almost up.

Shaped blanks await the judges scrutiny.

Results are in. No, I didn't win, but I was stoked when four of the judges came up to me and said that my board was as close to first place as you could get and that it could have gone either way. So an unofficial 2nd it is. 

Hats off to this year's winner Ricky Carroll, to the other shapers, and especially to Scott Bass for putting on the whole party. 

Shape-off article

from Sunday's Santa Cruz Sentinel:

Leo Maxam, The Green Room: Ward Coffey shapes in Tribute to the Masters Shape-off

On Saturday, Santa Cruz board builder Ward Coffey was locked inside a Southern California shaping bay and asked to replicate a classic 1979 Bill Caster surfboard in an hour and a half.

Sunday, his shape will vie with five others to be declared the winner of the second annual Tribute to the Masters Shape-off at the Sacred Craft Consumer Surfboard Expo in Del Mar. Each of the five boards will have been crafted by an esteemed shaper representing a different surfing region from both the east and west coasts. Last year, San Mateo's Marc Andreini represented Northern California in the shape-off. This year the honor was bestowed upon Coffey.

"I've known Ward for a long time," event producer Scott Bass said. "He came down last year to cheer on Marc Andreini. Santa Cruz has so many facets to its surf culture, but one of the greatest things about the town is there's tons of great shapers up there. [Coffey] is one of them. He's totally into hand-crafted surfboards."

Even if he hadn't been asked to participate in the shape-off, Coffey said he wouldn't miss a gathering like the Sacred Craft surfboard expo. Last year he was one of the few shapers from up north who made the eight-hour drive south to attend the inaugural event.

"From a shaping point of view, and surfing point of view, you can walk into anyone's booth and check out a board and know where to surf it and when to surf it," said Coffey, who made the trip along with fellow Santa Cruz shaper Michel Junod. "You basically want to ride everything. It's like, 'Where's the wax, I'm ready to go! "I got to see Terry Martin [Orange County master shaper of 45 years] shape. I got to talk story with him, discuss new ideas. I came away from the show feeling like I'm walking in the footsteps of the masters."

Coffey shaped his first board in 1979, a year after relocating to Santa Cruz from Alameda. But it wasn't until 1983 that he began his formal introduction to the craft, under the tutelage of Arrow Surfboards' Bob Pearson. Coffey was surfing out at Four Mile when Pearson noticed Coffey's self-shaped board. After admiring the green shaper's work and comparing notes, Pearson invited Coffey to come by his shop and watch him shape some boards. Coffey wound up working in the Arrow surfboard factory for the next 10 years, learning each step of the production process, from shaping to glassing to sanding. "The time I spent at Arrow, I would hang that on the wall as a proud time of my life," Coffey said.

In 1990, he left Arrow to start Ward Coffey Surfboards. Now 48, Coffey continues to shape all his boards by hand. Nearly every one is a custom order from his loyal following of surfers between Big Sur and San Francisco.

The five other shapers competing with Coffey in this year's Tribute to the Masters Shape-off include: Matt Calvani [Los Angeles], Timmy Patterson [Dana Point], Chris Christenson [San Diego], Ned McMahon [San Diego] and defending champion Ricky Carroll [Florida]. Carroll's winning design last year replicated a classic Mike Diffenderfer shape.

This year, the winner receives $1,000 and a full-page ad in Surfing Magazine. Whether or not his shape is selected as the winner today, Coffey said experiencing the camaraderie and new ideas spilling out of the Sacred Craft surfboard expo was the real prize. "In a nutshell, we have a really small industry, and it was started here in California," Coffey said. "The people who have been doing it a long time, we're all craftsmen, we're all artists. When we get together and look at the stuff that's made, you realize how special it is. We make the coolest toys around."

Contact Leo Maxam at 429-2417 or lmaxam@santacruzsentinel.com.


Sacred Craft or Bust

The van's loaded up and ready for the trek to San Diego for the surfboard Shape-off at the Sacred Craft Expo. Along with my tools, I had to bring the necessary toys: a couple of surfboards and my new stand up board just in case the waves don't cooperate. 

I spent the better half of the morning gathering the tools I'll need down south. Almost forgot my saws - would hate to be accused of not being able to make the cut.


Ea's Kelp Board

Ea comes from a gene pool where talent runs deep. I turned him onto a shaped blank that had a cosmetic flaw in the foam. He came up with this simple understated design that has his unique, watercolor kelp flowing around the board.

For a broader statement on Ea's work, go to www.eckermanstudios.com or stop by his place for Open Studios over the next couple of weekends.

But the questions is, Ea, does the board have wax on it yet?


I try to do most of my own airbrushes. I really dig the flat texture of dried paint on a freshly shaped blank.

Pulling clean pinlines and blending colors is a discipline that keeps me on my game.


Blue on Blue

Sacred Craft

The name alone should be a tip off to how shapers and surfers feel about their boards. The Sacred Craft Expo this month showcases that spiritual bond we have with the equipment we ride.

But how does one deal with literally hundreds of insanely designed and crafted pieces of functional artwork, all assembled under one roof? Easy, get yourself invited to come down and shape a board in a friendly, competitive sort of way. Well, that wasn't the plan but it happened and I'm honored, humbled in fact, to be included in this year's line up for the Shape-Off.

Last year's show was such a buzz. I am really looking forward to seeing everyone and what will be showcased. It's a very positive and inspiring experience when an industry as small as ours can come together and collectively say "Wow! We're artists and craftsmen and we make the coolest toys around."


Andy's Big Board

Andy is a big wave charger from the Monterey Peninsula and surfs the rock breaks along 17 Mile Drive. He doesn't hold back on his equipment either. All Andy's boards feature triple stringers, pigment lams, glass on fins, and a gloss and polish finish. His smaller boards usually have 6 deep channels. Glassers, sanders, and polishers love seeing his name on a blank!

Art Directors

Shaking my head, I sometimes let customers be "art directors" on their boards. For this board we opened a bunch of colors, picked a few, and let fly.

Hmm, we did it again: Mud. Not quite what we had in mind.

But wait, upon further review (i.e., nice pinlines and a gloss and polish finish), the subtleties in the color glow and pop. Another phoenix rises from the ashes.