If you were to walk into the shaping bay of pro-snowboarder-turned-shaper Colter Deupree and pick up one of his boards, you might, just for a split second, believe you're holding something made for flying down mountains. That's because Deupree's shapes mimic the outline of a snowboard: they feature wide noses and tails, narrow centers, and severe inward sidecuts in the middle, all combined with the goal of creating a surfboard with easy glide and friction-free speed. Here, he discusses the thinking behind the left-field design:
How'd you get into shaping?
I've always had a passion for making things with my hands. I was a competitive snowboarder growing up, and once I graduated high school I moved to California to be a professional snowboarder, which is where I eventually started shaping. In Southern California you get exposed to shaping a lot more than you do on the East Coast—especially Maine where I'm from.
How has your background in snowboarding affected your designs?
Growing up snowboarding, I was curious why surfboards are so much longer than snowboards and thought they could probably be shortened. Also, the inward sidecut of a snowboard works well in soft powder, so I figured it should work well in the water. Once I started shaping, I started trying to make surfboards that are more like snowboards—boards that are a lot smaller and utilize the function of the inward curvature. In snowboarding, the inward sidecut can really dig into the snow, but because foam floats in the water, when you turn with the sidecut on a surfboard, the board rebounds and stays really level.
Your most popular model is the All-Around Colternater. How similar is the shape to a snowboard?
Pretty similar. It's almost the same size as a snowboard, but with added volume. It also has pretty much the same sidecut as the snowboard.
Do you surf it like you're riding a snowboard or does it feel more like a regular shortboard?
The design gives you some of the same feelings as a normal shortboard and some different feelings. Obviously the board looks totally different than a normal shortboard, but when you actually ride it, it'll function much like a regular surfboard. You have to put a little extra pressure on the tail, which can feel a little different than surfboards that are made for more front-footed surfing. But as long as you've got weight on your back foot to engage the fins, you can accelerate and turn really well.
What would you say to people who might be hesitant in trying your design because of its unusual outline?
You think it might be really slow to turn because the nose and the tail look big. But the narrower middle makes up for the width in the nose and tail. I have a friend who was a little hesitant in trying them out and he said the hard part for him was getting over the fact that the nose is so big and the width in the middle is so narrow. He was looking at the nose so much when he was trying to catch the wave, but once he mentally got past that point of difference, he was able to surf it really well.
What kind of fin setup do you use in your boards?
You can ride them with a standard thruster or quad setup. I prefer it as a thruster because the board is already loose and maneuverable, so having a thruster setup gives you plenty of control.
Why do you think the All-Around Colternator is your most popular model?
It works well in both small waves and bigger waves, and it also works really well in mushy and hollow waves. The board doesn't create drag because it doesn't have the wide middle section to slow you down, so in mushy waves you don't lose any speed to friction or drag. When it's hollow, the inward sidecut really grips the pocket. Water flows through the board because of the inward sidecut.
Would someone buy one in the same dims as their normal shortboard?
Since you can make the board a lot smaller than a normal shortboard, you need to focus on what volume you want. I usually ask my customers for the volume they ride and what type of conditions they want to ride it in.