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: San Clemente's Cole Simler.
Name: Cole Simler
Zone: San Clemente
Years Shaping: 20
Boards Per Week: approx.40
Specialty: High Performance Surfboards
Is your business better or worse since the Clark Foam shutdown?
Better, the Clark Foam shutdown forced me into using the shaping machine more. Using the machine helps dramatically with production, and actually, gives me more time to experiment with new designs. It also allows more time to dial in the subtle details which make the difference between a decent board and a magic one. That is my goal, to make a magic board for my clients, whether I am making a board for a pro, or just the average guy down the street.
Do you feel polyurethane foam/polyester resin will always be the dominant surfboard construction?
Not in the long term, but definitely for the next few years. E.P.S foam with epoxy resin has definitely become better and more in demand since Clark foam closed its doors. We're probably doing 30-50% of our boards in E.P.S. Compared to almost no EPS before the closure .
Do you think there’s an increasing or decreasing appreciation for a custom surfboard?
I think for those who surf well enough to know the difference and also for any one who is striving to better their surfing by continuously dialing in their equipment.The custom board allows surfers to get a board designed for their own style of surfing and the the type of waves they ride in their particular area.
Are quads declining or increasing in popularity?
It's ridiculous how many quads I see these days, everything from fishes to funshapes to Stand up boards. I think the quad has certainly established itself as a valid design. I'm stoked to have worked so much with Nathan Fletcher because I think it takes someone at his level to take a design like that and boost big airs, but also, to rip on them at big Pipeline or Mavericks, that's when people start going holy shit those things are for real. I feel glad to be a part of that, and to know that our work together, played a role in legitimizing the modern quad design.
What’s keeping you afloat? Custom clientele? Shop accounts? Surftech?
Custom,Custom,Custom and I do quite a bit in Japan as well, I have a great distributor (Thanks Naki!)
If it hasn’t already, will your surfboard production ever have to go overseas?
I hope not, but never say never. I don't think the custom board is going anywhere, what happens when the customer says; I want it just like this but with a touch more rocker and pull in the nose a bit, oh yeah, can you make the tail a little blockier. Not gonna happen with a board made overseas, so the custom board isn't going anywhere too soon.
What kind of music do you like to listen to when you shape?
I have my I-Pod on shuffle so I just scrolled through the first few. Neil Young, Deep Purple, Motorhead, The Stones. I like a lot of different stuff though.
How much time do you spend on a single board now?
It depends on the particular board, could be 45 minutes could be two hours, I guess as long as it takes for me to feel it's the best board I can make.
Do you spend more time on the computer screen or in the shaping bay?
Shaping bay for sure.
How important is teamrider feedback to you?
It is the most important thing to me, feedback in general, I always tell my customers too, Let us know how it goes, we want you to be stoked. But it is always great to have a world class pro tell you a board is magic, that's what keeps you going.
What kind of board do you enjoy shaping most right now?
All of them but it's always fun to do something different, channels or bonzer bottom, anything unique.
How often do you get to surf?
Never enough, but last week I surfed 5 days in a row, that's pretty good, I still love it, that's why I shape.
Are you actively pursuing “greener” avenues in your surfboard production?
Yeah, always, There is a group of guys working on recycling boards and recycling the EPS I think that's insane, it always killed me to throw away the rail cut offs, they're perfect for packing material so we usually save them and use them for packing boards.
MONTH OF THE SHAPER:
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