By Jody W. Wood
Robin Prodanovich is a San Diego-native, long time surfer and shaper, down right nice guy. He’s been shaping custom boards now longer that most of the guys in the lineup have been alive. He’s seen a thing or two in his days and I always enjoy talking boards and surf with him. I had the chance to ask him a few questions about his recent travels and thoughts on boards and design and here’s what came of it.
Robin, you’ve been shaping for several years now and have seen trends in design come and go. What shapes are you currently stoked about and/or riding yourself?
After 35 years of shaping I’ve made myself some really good boards and I’m totally stoked on the board I’m riding right now. It is a 6’2″ x 20.25 five plug quad/tri-fin design. The board can be ridden as either a tri-fin or a quad and I’ve been riding it exclusively as a quad fin in surf from knee high to a foot or so overhead with exciting results. I designed the board for groveling but it has better than expected range.
If you had to pick one board to ride all summer long what would it be?
Definitely the one I’m currently riding, I don’t think I would change a thing.
You recently visited Costa Rica. What was the highlight of the trip for you?
I loved everything about Costa Rica, the people, the weather, the lack of biting bugs, the cool 1 hour flight in the little 12 passenger airplane from San Jose to Puerto Jimenez…but the definite highlight was walking through the jungle, stepping out onto the beach and seeing Backwash going off at two feet overhead with light offshore wind and flawless conditions with just a few people in the line-up. I surfed until dark with both of my kids.
How was the surf while you were there?
We were on the Osa Peninsula and the surfed ranged from a couple of feet overhead to waist high toward the end of the trip. The point break Pan Dulce was really fun, nice long ripable waves; Backwash had some juice and Matapalo had its moments. I’d give the surf an 8 out of 10.
What would you say have been your major influences in your shaping career?
My father for teaching me how to work efficiently, Gordon and Smith for giving me nine years and hundreds of boards to learn how to shape, Mike Eaton for teaching me the importance of bottom contours, and designing and shaping surfboards for South Coast Surf Shops for the last 20 years.
Have your surfing influences impacting your shaping?
Yes, definitely. I ride shortboards exclusively (I don’t own a longboard) and am amazed at how great a well shaped/designed board feels under my feet. But at the same time I’m watching other surfers in the water to stay in tune with the demands that are being placed on the modern shortboard design. I’m always looking for improvements.
You’ve shaped for a number of different board companies, as well your own label. Was there any one time in your career that was pivotal in how you shape and design or more of a gradual process?
I would say the process was gradual. Year after year, board after board, learning something new every day.
Again, you’ve seen changes in design, technology, and technique throughout your career. What do feel was the most drastic or redefining point in design evolution?
Without a doubt, Simon Anderson’s 3-fin thruster design sent shortboard performance to a new level. The use of carefully placed bottom contours and highly refined removable fins has bumped performance to yet another level.
Robin, thank you for your time and I look forward to seeing you again around the shop or in the water.
Come in to South Coast Surf Shops to check out one of Robin Prodanovich’s designs, including the Swegg, Mod Quad, Quad DT, DefCon3, DefCon4, CR3 longboards, Reality Check and many more!
Read Robin’s shaper bio with photos.