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Interview: 100% start-to-finish board builder Roger Hinds

Roger Hinds Surfboards, California, shaper, interview
Roger Hinds © Roger-Hinds-Surfboards-California


Interview: Roger Hinds 

Few shapers build board from blank to polish, Hinds is one

Surfersvillage Global Surf News, 7 June, 2015 - Roger Hinds is a dying breed of surfboard builder. He is more than a surfboard shaper because he builds his boards, 100% start to finish with his own two hands, without the aid of a CNC machine. With almost 50 years under his belt crafting surfboards Roger has earned the respect of some of the industry heavyweights, like Rusty Preisendorfer, for his mastery with a planer and meticulous glass jobs.

With such a pedigree it's no wonder Roger was asked to participate in both the Ultimate Craftsman and Icons of Foam challenge at The Boardroom Show this past May, after winning the event in 2014. The Icons of Foam is an event, sponsored by US Blanks, that asks a panel of hand picked shapers, to replicate an iconic surfboard.

Each shaper has an hour and a half to attempt to shape the board, as hundreds of people, most of whom are shapers at some level themselves, look on. Past winners of this event include Matt Biolos, of Lost Surfboards, Ward Coffey and Pat Rawson. This past May the Icons of Foam honored industry legend Rusty Preisendorfer and his iconic 1984 model made popular back in the day by a red hot Australian by the name of Mark Occhilupo, and Roger once again took top honors, over some very stiff competition, for his shaping prowess. 

Q Congratulations Roger on another Icons of Foam victory. What would you say was the biggest difference between shaping the Aipa Sting in 2014 versus the Rusty 84 model this year?

The Aipa Sting was easier because it had a flat deck and the blank we used was a 8'5'' A which has a flat deck. This year for the Rusty 84 model we used a 6'5" R which has a half half inch crown in the deck which had to be chopped out and the board throughout has some very subtle nuances, like slight vee in the nose, that might have been missed by some of the others in the competition. 

Q The Icons of Foam trophy is named in honor of Mike Marshall, who was known for his craftsmanship in his boards. How does it make you feel to have your name on the trophy, honoring him, twice and who are some of the shapers that have inspired you?

Mike and I met when I was shaping at Harbour Surfboards and became great friends. He was such a great person and I am honored to have my name on the Mike Marshall Perpetual Trophy. In regards to influences, in my early days on the North Shore guys like Kent Smith, Jeff Edwards, Don Copeland, Randy Rarick, and Gerry Lopez would just blow doors with the boards they were making.

Anytime I would get hold of one I would say to myself that these guys were ahead of the curve. As I went on in life and started shaping all over the world I would watch shapers shape and glassers glass and they would all provide me with something I could take away and use myself to help me make a better board. In my later years Terry Martin was a major influence.

At the time I was in my 50's and he was in his 70's and I would be blown away watching him shape 10 a day like it was nothing. At the Icons event I was very impressed with Ward Coffey who showed up, was a true professional and shaped like the planer was connected to his hand, just very smooth and clean. Stu Kenson, as always, was impressive as well at the event. 

Q You are known as a guy who does not use blanks that have been pre cut by a CNC machine. Have you ever tried to work with pre cut blanks and if so why not use them in your production boards? 

In the early 90's I was doing close to 1000 boards a year and for a couple of months I started using pre cut blanks and it just wasn't for me as it felt better to just shape the board start to finish so I went back to 

shaping blanks. A company the size of a Rusty or Lost are doing big numbers, that a small guy like myself could never do, so they have to use machine shapes to insure a consistency and there is nothing wrong with it. 

Q I had the pleasure of listening to Rusty, and his son Clint, as you shaped your Icons board and they were more than impressed with your ability to use your tools. How does it feel to be held in such high regard, for being a hand shape guy, by one of the most iconic shapers of our time? 

More important to me than winning the Icons of Foam, or placing second in the Ultimate Craftsman event, was gaining the respect of my peers like Rusty, Gary Stauber, Sam Cody and the other judges. The recognition they bestowed on me made the weekend one of the best of my life.

Being able to show my work to some of the best craftsman in the business and receive such positive feedback from them was just a very satisfying feeling and something I will remember forever. Q What benefits do you have as a guy who is able to take a board from start to finish versus others who just shape boards and then send them off for others to glass and color? 

By doing it all myself, with my own two hands, I feel like Dr. Evil and I can control my world. Each and every board I shape is my baby and nothing leaves my factory unless it is exactly the way I want it to be. If I sent it out for someone else to glass, I am not going to say they wouldn't be able to do as good a job as me, but I know it wouldn't get the attention I give to each and every one of the boards that leave my factory. 

Q Thanks for taking the time to talk to us Roger and if you could provide one piece of advice for anyone out there that has the itch to pick up a planer and start shaping what would it be? 

Do the best you can every time because nobody will remember the good ones but everyone will remember the bad ones. 

Rob Aschero

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