Trapped in a glass bubble, the heat is oppressive. Nearly fifty sets of eyeballs scrutinize each and every motion made by the shaper's steady, leather hands as foam flies through the air, gumming to the hairs on his arms. Hurriedly, but with calculating precision, Ricky Carroll flips his blank over to reference the rocker with that of a tattered board sitting just outside the door of the shaping bay.
“a few hours later I got an email that said, 'Alright, Mr. Blue Room, show up at 9 AM and bring your tools; you're the first shaper on Saturday morning.'"
He seems rushed, and with good reason; Ricky is one of six shapers given an hour and a half to transform a 6'9 foam blank into a perfect replica of a classic 6'1" "Diff," a shape made classic by the legendary La Jolla native, Mike Diffenderfer.
With shaper's pride and $1,000.00 dollars on the line, the pressure seems as tangible as the heat within the Hobie shaping bay.
"The time constraint makes the work a little bit harder," says Floridian shaper, and eventual champion Carroll. "For that type of board it was pushing the limits as far as creating an exact copy so you had to let a few things go."
Carroll overstates his willingness to err, as his board was judged by a panel of esteemed shapers to be the most exact replica of the classic "Diff."
This weekend's 2007 Consumer Surfboard Expo provided one of the few widely accessible public outlets within the surf industry to place the attention of both manufacturers and consumers alike in the place it all began: the surfboard.
"The event allowed for some great interactions and discourse about the evolution and state of the surfboard," said Event Creator and Organizer, Scott Bass. "These opportunities for open dialogue hardly ever happen, as most of these shapers are competing against each other, so it's beneficial to the public, the shapers, and manufacturers to have this open communication.
With shapers from all over the United States, including the Great Lakes and East Coast, the Expo presented a much-needed forum for board craftsmen concerned with the future of the surfboard manufacturing industry.
I think it's a great thing," says competing Orange County shaper and legend, Terry Martin. "You know, at all the trade shows it's clothing, fashion, and skin, but really it all started with surfboards. Here everything is just surf-related, and it's neat to go around and look at everyone's work that you'd never see otherwise."
"I didn't realize there were this many shapers with such great ideas and great work around. This is great," echoes the legendary Mike Hynson, 60's surfing prodigy and shaper extraordinaire.
As mentioned, shapers hailed from all over, but none registered as interesting story about how they became involved as founder of Blue Room Surfboards in Lake Michigan, Scott Ray.
"I was checking out [Scott Bass'] website as a spectator interested in the board show, and saw that there was no representation for the Great Lakes as a region. From Texas to Oregon there are shapers, and it would be unfair not to include these regions to be recognized as part of the soul and evolution of the surfboard," says Ray.
"So I sent him an email that said that was bunk, and a few hours later I got an email that said, 'Alright, Mr. Blue Room, show up at 9 AM and bring your tools; you're the first shaper on Saturday morning.'"
"I was pumped. Just to come out here and compete with these Kahunas was an honor," says Ray.
While he didn't end up winning the competition, Ray certainly contributed to the "soul and evolution of the surfboard."
And Bass confirms, "We had six guys stoked to be involved win, lose, or draw, and I think the shape-off and the seminars were a huge success.
With seminars ranging in topic from "Don't Call Me Skeg: The Importance of the Fin" to "Offshore Winds: the Globalization of the Surfboard Industry" to complement the publicly visible shape-off competition, the 2007 Sacred Craft Consumer Surfboard Expo delivered on its promise to create a larger, more tangible body of knowledge about the surfboard.
So what about next year?
"It's going to be bigger and better," says Bass. "We're already planning, and I can't wait."
For more information visit: Surfboardshow.com