How To Order The Perfect Board

Communication is key when it comes to getting your custom shape just right. Jon Pyzel guides his planer across someone's future dream board. Photo: Heff

It may seem simple enough, but successfully ordering a board from your local shaper has proven to be the pitfall of surfers from Tokyo to Texas. Unfortunately, many of us are making the same mistakes when we enter the shaping bay. But fear not, there's hope. We pushed away the foam dust with the North Shore's own Jon Pyzel, a man with decades spent behind the planer, to set us wise on the fundamentals of ordering the perfect board.

Above All, Be Honest
"The biggest mistake I see most people making is not being totally honest about themselves when they order a board. A lot of times, people will come up to me and tell me that they're 15 lbs. or so lighter than they actually are and that they surf four to five times a week. In reality, they're really only surfing twice a month and weigh quite a bit more than they say. And that's fine, but riding a board that's too small for you and too high performance isn't going to do you any favors. If you're honest about your ability and yourself, I can build you a board that you're gonna love and can get a lot more out of."

Don't (Or Do) Ride What the Pros Ride
"In the past, a lot of surfers have made mistakes by trying to ride the same boards that all of the pros ride. In the ’90s, everyone wanted to ride what Kelly Slater was riding. Those Glass Slipper boards--where the rocker was really steep and the boards were really narrow--are really unforgiving and hard to surf, and I think that may have caused some harm in a lot of surfers. What the pros are riding generally don't translate to most of us."

"That being said, what the pros are riding today can actually be adapted a little bit and will work for almost everyone. Guys like Dane, Kelly, and a lot of other pros are riding boards that are a lot stubbier and wider, and these boards will work really well for most people--just add a bit here and there. It feels like the first time that I can remember where that was the case."

Feedback Is Paramount
"The most rewarding thing that happens to me as a shaper is working with the surfer and getting some feedback. Like if someone comes up to me and says that they love the board, but it's a little stiff or a little too loose in these conditions, I love working with them on stuff like that. The cool thing is that I keep really good records on the boards. If someone has a board and they want to make a few tweaks to it, I can just pull up the serial number, see what we did for that particular board, and then work them to get the board that they're really stoked on."

Buy The Man A Beer
"Every once in a while, someone comes over to pick up a board and they bring over a few beers. I just love that. I think everyone does."