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Shaper FAQ’s with Dave Parmenter

Where are you shaping and surfing?

Have been “bi-coastal” for the past 20 years, dividing time between Hawaii and the central coast of California.

What year did you start shaping?

First board shaped was, like so many shapers of that era, a blank salvaged from a discarded longboard with the glass stripped off. That was in 1975. First board that I shaped and glassed using ‘real’ materials was in 1977. For the next ten years I was only a garage dabbler, and it wasn’t until early 1988 that I decided to get serious and make it my trade.

What are you currently riding?

Pretty much ride any and all types of surfboards depending on mood and surf conditions. The chief influence gained from immersion in Hawaiian surfing is that you are not board-specific – you are required to master all surfcraft from a pair of swim fins up to a surfing canoe in the Islands if you are going to be taken seriously or get asked to play with the Alphas. For good surf I will always reach for some sort of single-fin first (had quite enough of Thrusters in my ASP days, thank you), though few things are as enjoyable as small, fun, summery waves on a classic longboard…

What trends have you noticed in board design recently?

Board design is trending all over the place like a WaterWiggle gone berserk. The present glasnost towards alternative surfcraft reminds me a lot of the early 1970s when there was so much experimentation and wild design ideas that much of it never was properly evaluated or tested, since the evolution of surfboards was on such a fast track then. On the other hand, at present I am noticing a lot of Dada-ism infiltrating design – surfboards that have no performance or progressive elements but are cobbled together for the gratification of the hipster element, which by definition is ‘wanting to be different at any cost.’ I believe the primary driver for this widespread embracing of alternative surfboards is that most of them – even the slabs – are much, much more practical than the contemporary shortboards we’ve been plagued with since the early 1990s.

What’s your shaping philosophy?

Work Is Fun. Since I was a kid I have just wanted so badly to be in that Secret Handshake Society of the shaper/designers listed below; I was determined to build things that worked, regardless of what the fashion or hemlines were at the time. That’s why I build most of my boards for blue-collar surfers.

Who is your biggest shaping influence?

Though I apprenticed in my craft from shapers and craftsmen like Rusty Priesendorfer, Greg Mungall, and John Carper, my primary influences about how I viewed surfboards and their design and construction predated them. From the time I began surfing I closely followed everything Phil Edwards, Joe Quigg, Mickey Munoz, Dick Brewer, et al did and said and wrote. My adulation of them eventually gelled into a determination to build on what those watermen/craftsmen had achieved, and bridge it with modern jet-age design, taking the same traditional approach and reliance on proven design and marrying it to contemporary high-performance surfboards.

What do you consider to be your expertise?

Big-wave guns… Stoked they are making a comeback!

Read our feature on Dave Parmenter here.