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Surfing Laguna: A shaper's view of the surfing world

January 06, 2011|By Chris Williams

Getting an opportunity to interview world renowned surfboard shaper Rusty Preisendorfer was a great honor. His answers were thoughtful, informative and offer a look back at surfings past, while providing a glimpse into the future.

So Rusty, take us back to the beginning of your shaping odyssey, what was the inspiration?

Late '60s, end of the longboard era, boards in shops were $200…expensive. To put it relative terms, gas was 25 cents a gallon. Do the math. Not only were they expensive but things were evolving so fast, they were obsolete by the time [they] ended up on the store racks. The materials at Mitch's for a new board: $30 and anything goes!

What did that first board look like? How did it ride?

The first one was a twin fin I built with a friend, Dan Evans. We shaped and glassed it together. He had built a few and walked me through the steps. It actually rode unreal. The next few I had a little help from my friends. My first solo effort? I think I'm glad I don't have it to remind me!

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CW: Who were the guys showing you the ropes back in your early shaping days? Any mentors?

To quote Mike Hynson, "Anyone that ever picked up a planer." Early on: my high school friends who got into it a little before me – Dan Evans, Dan and Paul Bridgeman, Blayne Broderson, Charlie Ramsey. [In the] '70s: names more people would recognize: Mike Croteau, Mike Hynson, Skip Frye, Hoy Runnels, Mike Eaton, Jim Turner, Dick Brewer, Mike Diffenderfer, Bill Caster, Bill Barnfield. More recently: Pat Rawson, Eric Arakawa. Still looking, still learning.

CW: Can you touch on the feeling that went through your mind when you first saw someone really surfing well on one of your shapes?

Validation; I can do this.

CW: Was there a point when you knew that shaping was your path? Were there any competing career paths and what were mom and dad's thoughts on the matter?

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