You don’t have to live in Southern California to know who Doc Lausch is. Whether you fall asleep praying for a nor’easter-ravaged Atlantic or a solid southern hemi, you've seen the logo and you've seen his surf team spackled across the pages of the magazines. His brand, Surf Prescriptions, has certainly built an esteemed reputation for itself, and it has done so by sticking to a basic principle of board-building: make good surfboards.
I think that’s interesting. If I were the consumer I think I would buy half of my boards off the rack. I think people can tell a lot – maybe even more than they think they can tell just by putting the board under their arm.
As part of our “Hands On” series, which highlights notable shapers and peppers some personality into the boards they create, we figured we’d delve a little deeper into the resin-caked prints of a Huntington surf icon.
So how’d you get the nickname Doc?
In the late seventies I was in my parent’s garage in Huntington where I made my boards, and I was with my friend Rex – who actually changed his name to Rex Pollution because he was like an original punk rocker who gave everyone nicknames – and I had a dust mask and long hair that was kind of wild at the time. And that mask is kind of like a doctor’s mask, and I came running out of the garage and Rex was like, “Oh look! It’s the mad doctor, it’s Doc Mad – oh no!” And I made the mistake of telling him not to call me that, and it was over. So I kind of rolled with it. That’s when I was Freedom surfboards. I was kind of a hippy back then and he was a punk rocker.
How many boards do you think you've shaped?
I don't even want to think about it. A lot.
Tell me a little about your beginnings as a shaper.
I did my first board in 1969. When I first started I was fifteen and I did one, then maybe three, then nine. I didn't decide, “Oh I want to be a shaper,” and get a logo made. I made one or two then I would buy a shaped blank from one of the best shapers in town and I watched them, and I would go to different guys and learn little tips from each guy. And there was quite a learning curve and that's how I did it.
The first one I made was good – maybe beginner's luck. And then I made a lot of lemons; I probably still do. But I try to make lemonade.
When did you decide, this is what I want to do? I want to be a shaper.
I was never like “I'm going to be a surfboard-builder” for a long time. The first time I decided I was going to make it a business was in ’82 and I needed a name, and I was already “Doc” and that's how Surf Prescriptions developed. Freedom [his old brand] was sooo not in style the eighties so I went with the Mad Doctor thing and called it surf Prescriptions.
What do you think the most exciting thing about being a shaper today is?
Probably that it’s so diverse. There are so many different things happening and it’s not the same board over and over and over and over… There's this type of board for these waves and those waves, there's the high performance team rider busting airs in contests and there's my New Toy model for little crummy waves and I’m doing all different types of quads and twins and resin colors…the diversity is the most exciting thing. I like the variety. I think I would be bummed if I had to make the same boards all day long.
What other new projects do you have going?
We’ve actually got a new clothing line coming out. I’ve always kind of thought about it, and I’ve had people approach me about doing it, and I’d try it, but I need to just concentrate on the boards.
It’s another business really, and I thought there was potential in my brand being on clothing, but it was never right. The guy that’s doing it now, Enrique, was really persistent and he has a bikini brand called La Isla and a few other private labels and he knew my brand and all about me and was attracted to what I was. I was stand-offish for a while, because I didn’t want to be a surf brand. There are enough companies trying to be surf brands, and there's just not that much shelf space. His deal was that he has a big client base and it’s going to be higher end products in boutiques and places like that more than in surf shops.