Monday, October 17, 2011

Sacred Craft Recap

Talk about magic boards!  I spent the weekend before last in Del Mar at Sacred Craft.  For those of you who live under a rock, Sacred Craft is the largest consumer surfboard expo in the galaxy.  This gathering of surfers, shapers and the people who love them has a simple mission: “to unite passionate surfers with the surfboard industry.”  And it is truly a gathering: old cruisers, young rippers, hipsters who I’m not sure even surf (does surf wax work on a handlebar moustache?), groms, legends, and posers.  Oh yeah, and world class shapers.  This event celebrated the work of Carl Ekstrom, a Windansea local and patron saint of the asymmetrical design, a shape that has to be seen to be seen (and I suspect surfed) to be truly appreciated.  Surfboard design has been tampered with since day one but Carl’s revolutionary design changed the way we perceive a surfboard and what that board is capable of doing.  We’re not talking subtle design tinkering here.  We’re talking extremes.  Think Meyerhoffer (see here for more).  Am I suggesting Meyerhoffer is our generation’s Carl Ekstrom?  I don’t know, you be the judge. 

Regardless, there were lots of great shapers in the house and six were hand-picked by Ekstrom to shape a board based on his unique design concept.  I had the pleasure of watching a few of them, namely, George Gall, Matt Biolos, and Tim Bessell.  A treat to say the least.  Each has a unique style and approach in the shaping room but they’re all fine craftsmen and their interpretations of Carl’s asymmetrical design were beautiful.  Congrats to Wayne Rich for his winning design.  Make no mistake, there were hundreds of finished boards at Sacred Craft too.  Boards of all brands, shapes, sizes, designs, materials and historical significance.  Some truly impressive boards were auctioned off on Saturday night and raised over $36,000 for charity.  The theme, “The Art of Shaping: LA County,” highlighted classic designs by 24 legendary shapers from, you guessed it, LA County (pay no attention to the fact that LA County shapers were being celebrated in San Diego; San Diego shapers will likely get their due at a Sacred Craft in Santa Barbara or Santa Monica or somewhere else).  
Jeff Ho's "P.O.P." Zephyr

Auction highlights included a Jeff Ho shaped Zephyr, a replica of the board he surfed in the award winning (and extremely cool) documentary DogTown and Z-Boys.  A bidding war between two well known collectors resulted in the board fetching $7K, the auction's largest catch.  That said, it was a bittersweet moment.  While the money would go to charitable health organizations, ironically Jeff himself is in poor health and his wife is fighting cancer.  As luck would have it, Jeff received $2k from Billabong for having shaped the board that received the highest bid and while that’s not much in the larger scheme of medical costs, every bit helps.  On that note, I wish Jeff and his wife all the best.  Other gorgeous boards of note were a Rick Surfboards UFO (shaped by Rick Stoner’s son Jeff), a Weber Performer, the most popular board of all time by units sold, (shaped by Dewey’s son Shea), an all black big wave gun by Tyler Hatzikian, a red tinted balsa noserider by Bing, a hand shaped log by Hap Jacobs, an intricate weaving stringer design by Greg Noll (shaped by son Jed) and a 3-stringer 10’ classic noserider by Lance Carson.  These are just a few; it was eye candy all around.  Fernando Aguerre, the charismatic and deep pocketed co-founder of Reef sandals, brought a lot of these home. 

Royce Cansler holding the red tinted balsa Bing noserider
Despite having raised over $36,000 for these 24 special boards, many of them sold for a song, some of them for less than the cost of materials.  Case in point: I spoke to the guy who acquired the transparent red balsa Bing noserider after the auction.  When I asked if he was going to hang it or surf it, he said he’d probably hang it as he didn’t surf longboards.  Why did he buy the board then I asked.  Quite simply, he recognized a helluva deal when he saw one.  His wife had bought him an 8’ balsa gun for his 50th birthday for over $3k and when the Bing stalled at around $2k, he knew he had the opportunity to grab a beautiful, one-of-a-kind board.  The same could be said for a Joe Bark gun, Mike Stavros chambered quad or Pat Ryan Kingfish.  Nevertheless, it was a great event for a great cause -- massive kudos to Royce Cansler at Billabong -- and overall, Sacred Craft was a metric ton of fun.  I can’t wait until the next expo.  If you’ve ever considered going, go!  It’s only $10 to get in and comes with a free one-year subscription to Surfer magazine.  Until next time, may your waves be head high and glassy.
Lance Carson
Tyler Hatzikian
Bing Copeland
Renny Yater
Shea Weber