Month Of The Shaper: Chris Gallagher

Editor's Note: In conjunction with our annual Surfboards Issue (On newsstands Nov. 18), we will be posting one interview per day with a craftsman who contributed to the issue. Some are the biggest names in the bay; others are underground and want to keep it that way. But all of them share an equal passion for the crafts that move us forward. In these tough economic times, they all have a lot to say on where their craft is going. This time, it's former WCTer, North Shore resident and current Hobgood life coach Chris Gallagher.

Name: Chris Gallagher
Zone: North Shore Oahu
Years Shaping: Off and on for 20 ish years
Boards Per Week: About 5 when home
Specialty: High-performance shorties and guns

Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?

Hawaii was different then because we already had Australian foam being imported. So we didn't suffer nearly as hard as the California and East coast guys. The hard part was the custom stuff and the gun blanks. So initially we took a hit but a lot of cool things happened in the realization of different flexes of the different blanks. Now we have a lot of blanks to choose from and can order depending on the type of conditions the board will be used in.

Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?

There are already great alternatives for the bulk of the surfing population. For a top pro or am it seems as if the versatility, flex and feel of the poly boards has not yet been duplicated or bettered yet. To them most of the alternatives have felt quirky… good one minute, iffy the next, good in one condition, iffy the next. I am sure it is partly because our designs are catered the polyester characteristics. I do feel optimistic that there is a design, a blank and a layup waiting to be combined that will change things… we just have to find it. Maybe someone already did and we just don't know about it. Anyone???

Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?

It's going to be hard to answer this question without sounding bitter. On one hand it is an honor when someone wants you to make them a board. On the other hand its defeating when they argue with you over making 75 bucks to do it. Maybe when I am old and crusty I can get into that {{{5000}}} dollar wall hanger club somehow.

Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?

People still love 'em. Might be leveling off a little though.

What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?

My custom business is pretty small and breaking even is a good year…. My affiliation with Santa Cruz Surfboards keeps my head slightly above water. Labor of love.

What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?

Dance / electronic / gets me amped. I start dancing around the shaping racks, scrubbing with the beat.

How much time do you spend on a single board now?

Anywhere from 25 to 40 minutes.

Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?

Most of my designs are pretty tuned in on the computer. Unless I am working on a new model on the computer, I spend way more time in the bay.

How important is teamrider feedback to you?

It's super important. But it's better to listen to the ones that have been around the block. They have been around long enough to speak shaper language and actually know what a good board should feel like.

What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?

I am having fun making weird decks, kick tails, some fishy stuff too. Although making an all around magic shortboard is the hardest and most rewarding still.

How often do you get to surf?

Almost everyday.

Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?

Sorry to say I am not. They say epoxy and EPS are greener, but how much greener is hard to say. How green could Styrofoam be?? I feel weird after shaping that stuff too. Not a good smell.

DAY 1: William “Stretch” Riedel
DAY 2: Mark Price / Firewire Surfboards
DAY 3: Jeff Clark
DAY 4: Chris Gallagher
DAY 5: Matt Biolos
DAY 6: Geoff Rashe
DAY 7: Mark Wooster
DAY 8: Jeff Bushman
DAY 9: Rusty Preisendorfer
DAY 10: Rich Price
DAY 11: Shane Stoneman
DAY 12: Ricky Carroll
DAY 13: Xanadu
DAY 14: Chris Christenson
DAY 15: John Carper
DAY 16: Michael Walter
DAY 17: David Barr
DAY 18: Ben Aipa
DAY 19: Jeff “Doc” Lausch
DAY 20: Jesse Fernandez
DAY 21: Cole Simler