“There’s a story that a customer came to a shaper and said ‘I got this magic board, it’s perfect. I want to copy it,’” said shaper Eric Arakawa while standing in his shaping bay. Dust saturated the floor and a fresh board stood on display next to him. “And the shaper looked at him and said, ‘what do you mean? You don’t want it any better?’”

It’s evident today that hours of laboratory-like work in dilapidated warehouses have made “better” boards, with designs serving as a foundation that the performance of the sport currently sits atop. Recent board modifications have even taken surfers to new heights in the early WSL Championship Tour events (looking at you, Stu Kennedy and Matt Wilkinson).

In the 2016 Beach and Board Buyers Guide, we aimed to not only exhibit these cutting edge designs and shapes of today, but also to place your feet in the dusty, resin-smelling warehouses where you can glean more insight from the shapers themselves.

In the following pages, we talk story with a host of Hawaii’s shapers: Mike Mattinson, Jon Pyzel, Eric Arakawa, Ron Meeks, Glenn Pang and Wade Tokoro on shaping innovations, how to pick out the best board, and other intuition gathered in shaping bays across the Islands where the sole focus is to make your next board pure magic.

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