Shaper: Britt Merrick
What's your shaping philosophy?
Serve the surfer(s) well. A surfer knows what he or she envisions as good surfing and what they want to feel on a wave; my job is to get them to that place. It's all about the surfer's experience.
Who is your biggest shaping influence?
My father Al Merrick taught me most of everything I know. I literally grew up in the Channel Islands factory. When I was born my dad made all the boards in the back; one by one he shaped and glassed them, and my mom would hand-make clothes to sell in the front retail space. That is where I spent much of my childhood, playing in the foam and resin. For years, before I ever picked up a planer, I would stand at my dad's shaping room door hours on end and just soak it in. I didn't ask questions, I didn't move, I just absorbed. Those days observing taught me how to use the tools and how to look at and feel my way through foam to a good board. These days Simon Kile and Mike Andrews at CI, and Tim Patterson and Erik Arakawa are influences on my shaping. I am especially thankful for the skill, generosity, and kindness of Simon and Mike.
What is unique about the boards you shape?
Our history. Channel Islands has been building boards for some of the best surfers in the world since 1969. That's forty-eight years of hard work and experience that goes into every board. We make our boards by hand right here in America with craftsmen who love surfing and surfboards.
How is your shaping influenced by your location?
My shaping room and the CI factory are nestled just up the canyon from Rincon. The whole CI crew gets to test boards there all winter long. My dad developed his early twin fins in the Cove with Shaun Tomson and his early thrusters with Tom Curren, and that tradition of progression continues there today with our team.
Are there any new technologies you're integrating into your shapes?
We have been developing FlexBar technology, which is a sandwich construction of different densities of EPS foam. This has allowed us to be able to harness and manipulate flex better than ever, and flex is a key component to the way a board feels and works. With this construction, the boards maintain their positive flex characteristics for much longer than other boards. It is also durable; each CI FlexBar comes with a one-year warranty against breakage, the first in the industry.
What advice would you give to customers to help them get the best board possible?
Watch surfers you love, see what they ride, the lines they draw and the feeling that creates, and try to capture something similar in your volume. On our custom board builder at cisurfboards.com you can create and have us build anything you can dream of. We are always here to talk you through it and get you exactly what you want.
What's the biggest lesson learned in your shaping career?
Be humble and be thankful. What we get to do as board builders is a privilege and a joy. I also realize that I need to have my identity grounded in something deeper than just surfboards. If I get my sense of self-worth from merely how the boards are working, then I am only as good as the last board—and while some boards are good, some are not. That's no way to live. I find deeper meaning and purpose in knowing Jesus. Ultimately, that makes board building even more fun and freeing for me.
[Featured Image: Britt Merrick, Photo by Sherman]