Editor's Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time: Carlsbad's David Barr.
Name: David Barr / Barr Designs Surfboards
Zone: Carlsbad California
Years Shaping: 24 years
Boards Per Week: 10+
Specialty: High performance shortboards / step up’s / guns.
IS YOUR BUSINESS BETTER OR WORSE SINCE THE CLARK FOAM SHUTDOWN?
Worse! Over saturation of cheap offshore boards has glutted the market.
DO YOU FEEL POLYURETHANE FOAM/POLYESTER RESIN WILL ALWAYS BE THE DOMINANT SURFBOARD CONSTRUCTION?
Poly construction will always be in play. It’s more user friendly from a manufacturing stand point and I think the poly boards surf more consistent in the whole spectrum of waves we ride, small, medium, large. I found epoxy construction to be good in smaller really clean surf, but can get sketchy and start to feel a little nervous in juicier or bumpy surf.
DO YOU FEEL THERE IS AN INCREASING OR DECREASING APPRECIATION FOR CUSTOM SURFBOARDS?
The custom board is what keeps me afloat, my clientele come to me for conceptually sound advice and much more personal customer service. Sometimes I feel like I’m delivering their first born not a 6’2″ hotdog board. This used to drive me crazy, but now I embrace it.
ARE QUADS INCREASING OR DECREASING?
Quads are definitely increasing in popularity. I have a couple designs that I have in my quiver but I refer to quads as niche boards because they seem to be limited to working good in very specific types of waves. The tri fin is just a better design for all around conditions, a much more consistent design.
WHATS KEEPING YOU AFLOAT RIGHT NOW?
Custom clientele, see answer #3
DO YOU THINK YOUR SURFBOARD PRODUCTION WILL GO OVERSEAS?
Only in another manufacturing form like surftec / firwire etc. Poly or epoxy construction will always’ be done in a facility that I have control of. I’m from the old school of thought that you should actually surf if you're going to build a surfboard.
WHAT KIND OF MUSIC DO YOU LISTEN TO WHEN YOU SHAPE?
HOW MUCH TIME DO YOU SPEND ON A SINGLE BOARD?
Allot, I’m hands on. I do allot of my boards start to finish, especially the team boards. Every element of manufacturing is important in getting the magic board. shape / glass / fins templates cambers and tows, even sanding is essential in the outcome of a magic board.
DO YOU SPEND MORE TIME ON THE COMPUTER OR IN THE SHAPING BAY?
I probably spend equal time with both. There is some really good shaping software available today so I do use it. But once again I’m from the old school of thought that if you can’t pick up a planer and knock out a beautiful handshape, you probably shouldn’t be shaping.
HOW IMPORTANT IS TEAMRIDER FEEDBACK?
Teamrider feedback is important, but finding a teamrider that can properly articulate what’s going on with his board is a rare bird. You have to dissect the little things a teamrider says allot times, this board is stiff, this board is slow etc. I listen then look at his board then watch him surf the board, this is where I probably can draw the most from what a board is doing.
WHAT KIND OF BOARD DO YOU ENJOY SHAPING THE MOST RIGHT NOW?
Right now I’m working on boards for really crappy conditions. Boards that you can have fun on in conditions that normally you would just pass on. Let’s face it, surfing is about having fun and staying wet. If your not surfing in the everyday crap your worthless when it get good!
HOW OFTEN DO YOU GET TO SURF?
Alot lately, dialing these new models.
ARE YOU ACTIVELY PURSUING "GREENER" AVENUES IN YOUR SURFBOARD PRODUCTION?
I always am trying to be conscious of keeping things as green as possible, I use some mdi foams, I try to keep factory waste to a minimum, I recycle and reuse dirty acetone etc. I don’t use hemp clothe or linseed resins, I’m sorry to say I could be greener, we all could! Let’s face it, surfboards are a toxic cocktail!
MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler