A couple of years ago, Santa Barbara shaper Ryan Lovelace's career was at an impasse. Approaching 30, he'd already been shaping for a full one-third of his life, piquing the interests of inquisitive surf enthusiasts with offbeat, yet highly shreddable designs like the narrow-nosed, super-vee-bottomed mid-length, the v.Bowls, and others. With the opening of his retail operation, Trim Shop, Lovelace had expanded his reach beyond his custom order clientele, which, aside from making his unconventional designs accessible to a larger audience, only accelerated the demand for his handshapes.
"I was managing a retail store and also building 90% of the boards for that retail store," says the now 31-year-old Lovelace of the Trim Shop operation. "It was really gnarly, but I'm a heavy workaholic. My bottom line is, as long as I get my two or three boards done, I have the rest of the time to devote to whatever. But nothing happens until I get mine done."
While the workload didn't bother him all that much, at three boards per day, six days a week, he'd reached the limits of his own production capabilities. And as he looked to continue expanding his brand, he realized the options were few, and not all that appealing.
"When any shaper gets busy in our day and age, there are a couple things you can do. The first logical move is to have someone else glass your boards. Second is typically to go to machine shaping for the majority of your production," says Lovelace. "I'm not going to use a CNC machine. Not that there is anything wrong with machine shapes. But for me, I've never been satisfied with that. My mindset will always be a consumer's mindset. So for me, when I hear that a favorite shaper of mine is machine shaping, my hopes are dashed."
"So as my business was growing, I started looking at those logical moves and thinking about what I needed to do to either quell my business, or share the work while keeping my thing pure," he continues. "I started brainstorming what is now Trimcraft."
For Trimcraft, Lovelace brought on four shapers - each with a different skillset and shaping background - to handshape a curated selection of boards he personally designed, as well as an assortment of shapes made famous by San Diego master Rich Pavel and "Mr. Pipeline," himself, Gerry Lopez. Though their shapes have been available in retail shops for less than a year, the Trimcraft handshape team of John Oppito, Joseph Yee, Michael Arnold, and Alex Lopez (Gerry's son) has already cranked out nearly 1,000 boards. "I'm just blown away by the response," Lovelace says.
Although unique in today's market, Trimcraft's model is far from novel, as the surf industry was practically built on the handshape production models employed by brands like Hobie and Gordon & Smith in the '60s and '70s.
"It seems kind of obvious looking back--like, shit, our entire surf industry was built on this model," Lovelace says. "I've had people ask me, 'Do you really think a handshaped production brand is feasible?' I'm like, 'how the f–k do you think we got here?'"
Still, Lovelace has been strategic with the designs he's chosen for the Trimcraft line, picking shapes that are not only easily replicable for his team of shapers, but also approachable for the typical surfer.
The t.Rev, a fairly flat, wide-nosed, pintail quad with a fish-y outline, is a perfect example.
"[The t.Rev] was the first one I knew should be a Trimcraft board," says Lovelace. "Longboard shapers know how to shape a fish. Shortboard shapers nowadays have done a lot more fishes because it's become a craze. And it's approachable for average surfers. It's a basic, baseline board that more people should have in their quivers. Shapers can understand it, and for surfers, if you see it in a shop, you know it's funky, but you can wrap your head around it."
The t.Rev's eponymous origin story begins with Santa Barbara surfer Trevor Gordon, who'd made a very cryptic request of Lovelace: he wanted something around 5'3" that was “super roots-y” ["I was like 'What the Hell does that mean?'"].
Lovelace, coming off an infatuation with the famous Pavel quad-fish design, the Speed Dialer, cribbed a few fish-inspired design elements and adapted a more high performance tail-shape to the t.Rev. "I wanted it to paddle well, but surf really round, where you can still execute arcing, continuous carves," he says. "As a shaper, I don't ever want to design something that's not meant to f–king shred. The t.Rev is quote-unquote alternative, but high-performance oriented."
With its wide point slightly forward, chimed, down-rails that morph into more box-y, shortboard-esque rails through the board's back two feet, the t.Rev likes bowl-y, round waves--ideally, chunky beach breaks with double-up sections. The tail, though pulled-in, is round enough to get loose. And the board's bottom contour, with its long flat middle panel and single concave through the tail, offers that twin-fish-inspired extra turbo boost.
“At East Coast beach breaks, the thing goes nuts," Lovelace says. "Because they have a ton of volume up front, they get in early and they're really positive on the air drop. They are almost like a mini tube board when you get them sized right."
As for sizing, Lovelace advises that while going three inches shorter than your standard shortboard is a nice place to start, picking the right board is all about feel — true to the roots of the Trimcraft brand. "Put it under your arm. Feel it in the shop. If you can wrap your head around it, and feel that your energy towards it is right, it's going to work," he says. "Just put your hands on it. That's what Trimcraft is all about."