Shapers

For many of us it’s difficult to find that surfboard that’s just right. Size, shape, surfability, and cost often are just too much to take in when picking up a board. Fortunately, at South Coast Surf Shops we have in house shapers that can help to make many of those tricky board decisions a lot easier. In the next few blog articles we will take a look a some board designs that our shapers are really stoked on. You’ll get first hand information from the guys behind the scene. Today we’ll take a look at the Prod-Quad surfboard with shaper Robin Prodanovich.

Robin is a perfect example of the an “old school” surfer who turned his love for surfing into something even greater. A long time surfer and overall waterman, Robin picked up his first blank in 1968 by stripping an old beat up board and used somewhat outdated technology to shape his first board. Ever since then he has not looked back and has learned how to change and adapt to an often evolving industry. He had the pleasure of shaping for Rusty and some other major surfboard lines. In 1982 we were lucky enough to grab this valuable free agent to help bolster our own private label boards. Robin has a great story and just hanging out with him for a few minutes, you feel as if you’ve gained years of knowledge about boards. I was able to get a true sense of his passion for shaping and the sport he has grown to love for most of his life. Check out his video to learn about one of the great boards that South Coast has to offer.  Make sure to come into South Coast Surf Shops to try on one of our great boards.

Focus on the Prod Quad

by jody on September 9, 2008

By Jody W. Wood & Robin Prodanovich

Robin Prodanovich is a San Diego native and long time board shaper for South Coast Surf Shop. He’s an avid shortboarder and doesn’t even own a longboard. Summer time in Southern California can lend itself to plenty of long, hot, and nearly completely flat days.

So, what’s a shortboarder to do after checking the surf day after day and finding another meager set of knee to waist high waves rolling through a crowd of a hundred of our closest friends?

Rather than dragging out a log or an old school fish, Robin decided to take matters into his own hands. He began working on a design of his own that would allow shortboarders to surf those small days, without compromising performance.

Prodanovich Quad Surfboard model by South Coast Surf Shops

The Prod Quad, now available exclusively at South Coast Surf Shops, is the result of his efforts. Here, Robin provides a little insight into how this model came about and what it’s good for: [click to continue…]

Larry Ricci

by Robb on June 13, 2008

Here in San Diego, the coastal topography offers a wide variety of wave conditions. We have beach breaks, point breaks, reefs, jetties, and river mouths that respond differently to various swell direction and size, all in relatively close proximity. Living and surfing in this area the last twenty-five years has certainly been beneficial. I have been fortunate to successfully and consistently design surfboards for a great many individuals (beginners to professionals) in all these conditions.

I’m a lucky guy. I like my “job”. I manage my schedule (for the most part) to my benefit. I get to surf just about anytime I want. The people I work with are wonderful and I can proudly say that many of them are good friends. The monetary rewards are perceptual; however, the above mentioned lifestyle augmentations make it difficult for me to complain because, frankly, I want to surf as much as possible and be available to participate with any swell.

Again, I’m lucky. When I started shaping surfboards for myself in 1979 my friends were impressed enough to ask me to shape boards for them. I would get my hands on Brewers, Lightning Bolts, G&S’, Local Motions’, Robert August and any other prominent shaper’s boards into my shaping bay, study them, trying to think as they were, and then do my best to incorporate those design concepts with mine. I like to think of it as the same as being a contemporary blues guitar player, borrowing (swiping) licks from the masters and amalgamating them with your own ideas to produce something fresh, unique, and thought provoking. A smooth blend between the originators and the innovators with heavy emphasis on the blending process, giving credit where credit is due, primarily to those who envisioned and brought to life the design concepts we all use today.

I say these things because many times I have to remind myself as to how cool all this really is. I get buried in my work like any other rat out there but I get to design and shape surfboards for cryin’ out loud! Of course many swells are missed because of obligations, but when I’m focused on shaping, I’m focused on surfing. I”m imagining how the board I’m shaping at that time will interact with the water rushing underneath and around it. The visualization concept is the common denominator. The application of the surfboard in different parts of the wave keeps my mind “flowing”. Blending technical knowledge with experience and common sense is, I believe, a shapers best “template” for designing successful surfboards.

Which brings me to these final thoughts. We as designers/shapers must educate ourselves, and with open minds, utilize the available technology to not only embellish our current knowledge, but as a springboard to catapult ourselves from the status quo. I’ve been quite fortunate to work with a variety of surfboard companies and exceptionally talented designer/shapers in California, Hawaii, Australia, and Japan who share this philosophy and I feel quite privileged and proud to participate in that philosophy at South Coast Surfboards.

I personally feel anyone, regardless of ability, can enjoy one, many, or any of the surfboard designs currently available at South Coast. If a personalized, custom design is necessary, please share your ideas with a letter, fax, e-mail, or I invite you to visit one of our four stores here in San Diego.

Robin Prodanovich

by Robb on June 13, 2008

As a native of San Diego and having a father that was an avid free diver and spearfisherman, my exposure to the waves and the ocean came at a very early age. My family spent many weekends on the beaches of La Jolla and on the bluffs of Sunset Cliffs while my parents dove for abalone and lobster and speared the occasional unlucky fish that happened to swim by. But, my interest in the ocean was the waves that I saw breaking at Osprey Reef, Luscombs and Garbage Reef. By age twelve, I had my first surfboard and have been hooked ever since.

1968, what a year. I got my first blank by stripping the fiberglass off an old no-name surfboard, and using only a surform hand tool I proceeded to shape myfirst board. For my next attempt I rented a large, extremely powerful planer and with a new Clark Foam blank, produced a board that rode well.

By 1973, I had shaped numerous boards for myself and my friends and decided to make some money. I approached Paul at Gordon and Smith Surfboards, showed him a board I had shaped, and he hired me on the spot. My nine years at G&S were extremely valuable. I shaped a variety of boards and worked closely with Mark Richards on his twin fin designs. This association with Mark gave me the opportunity to go to Australia in 1980 for research and development and a lot of surfing.

In 1982 I decided to break out on my own. I formed Prodanovich Enterprises, producing my own boards and contract shaping for other companies. Some of my accounts included G&S, Nectar and Linden Surfboards. Two years later Local Motion approached me to shape and distribute boards for them along the west coast. I worked with team riders and helped Local Motion with many ASR shows. In 1985 I hooked up with Rusty Surfboards. My association with Rusty as a shaper lasted over 5 years.

Over the last 10 years I pursued other shaping accounts, including South Coast Surfboards. My association with South Coast has grown. I work with South Coast team riders and shape more and more boards for the shops. Designing new shortboards such as the Reality Check and the very short and very wide Saucer has been fun, as has creating the longer boards such as the Winter Pro and the very high performance Slap model. Keeping the four South Coast stores and numerous wholesale accounts stocked with the most current surfboard designs keeps me very busy, but not so busy that I can’t explore Baja California for perfect point breaks or get on the hockey rink but that is another story.

Jody W. Wood

In the past, a lot of young groms who were just getting into surfing, often took to the waves on their dad or older brother’s old board, or maybe an old school, yard sale special. But, the times, they are a changing. Performance, at all age levels, has increased over the years with changes in design and materials. Young groms are ripping at a level not seen by many pros 20 years ago. That type of performance surfing doesn’t happen by accident. Kids are starting out younger and younger, with goals and plans to be professional surfers. And chances are, the kid down the street isn’t riding his dad’s 7’6″ Egg anymore. Now, there are high performance shortboards designed especially for the little guys, scaled down versions of one’s the big boys ride.

Larry Ricci, surfboard shaper/designer for South Coast Surf Shops talks about the Grom Model seen in Surfshot Magazine this month with team rider Jay Christensen.

1. What is the idea behind the Grom Model?

“Over the last ten years the technical ability of younger surfers has improved dramatically. These kids require fine-tuned, high performance surfboards to compliment their ability. They are tireless wave mongers. They want to go fast, get air, carve, snap, and tube ride. Robin Prodanovich and I are just as fired up to provide the vehicle for the next generation.

2. What kind of feedback have you gotten from the kids riding them?

“I’m truly impressed with the articulation and detailed feedback we get from the kids. They are so much more informed and in tune with design concepts than ever before. They understand rocker, outline, rail volume, fins, etc. Their input has been incredibly positive.

3. What sizes are the boards available in?

“Usually 5’10″ and under. Eight year-old team rider Ryland Rubens is currently riding a 4’10″.

4. Do you feel these boards will help speed the learning curve for surfers who might have, in the past, been stuck with their dad’s old board?

“Once they reach a certain performance level, they want a board designed especially for them. They don’t want to ride their dad’s old board anymore.

5. How long have these boards been in the works between yourself and Robin?

“As the performance curve has widened to include younger and younger surfers, so has the demand for the appropriate equipment. Robin and I draw from our years of experience and, especially, rider feedback to continue the development as these kids lead us to the next level.”

6. Are the grom models available in the shops or are they all customs so far?

“There are some grom models in our current inventory, but custom orders are the most popular right now. You can personally speak to Robin or myself about a custom design by appointment.”

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.

By Jody Wood

We’ve seen “Quads” popping up lately in magazine photographs, a few pros riding them, and some of the guys from around the shop are stoked on them lately. They are boards with four fins, two larger side fins and two smaller rear fins. They differ from a “twinzer” in that the two smaller fins are positioned behind and between the side fins, closer to the tail of the board, rather than beside the side fins, along the rail. The quad fin set up isn’t exactly a new concept. It’s been around for years and in some regions remains the standard fin placement on most boards.

“Quads” pretty much fell off the face of the earth in competitive surfing with the design of the tri-fin, but surfers have a way of revisiting the past sometimes in search of something missed along the way. Maybe with hopes to improve upon it, or just ride something not everybody in town rides.

Larry Ricci and Robin Prodanovich, both South Coast shapers and designers, recently got together to revamp some designs and get some new school quads on the racks and in the hands of local surfers. We talked to Larry about the designs and here’s how that went down.

Quad fin set ups seem to be making a comeback as of late. What’s with the recent popularity?

“Surfboard design will always continue at its own pace in adherence to what surfers are willing to accept. It usually takes a bit of mainstream validation from a prominent surfer/shaper relationship for a design to gain enough popularity for more and more shapers to create their own versions. The quad fin has been around a long time and, if they are designed right, work great in a wide variety of conditions.”

What kind of feeling do you get from a quad, as opposed to a tri-fin or twin fin set up?

“Less drag and a more positive feel when turning hard on rail. You can ride higher on the wave, draw different lines, and push harder off the bottom, especially backside, without worrying about losing your grip and spinning out. You can change direction quicker, without as much tail pressure. It frees up your surfing.”

Talk about the different board types you have shaped with quad set ups.

“The quad-fin concept can be applied to any surfboard design. It has been proven to work in one foot slop and thirty foot open ocean waves. Here at South Coast, Robin Prodanovich and I have recently designed quad-fin hulls for small to medium size fish, performance short boards, mid-size hybrids and eggs. We are always fine tuning, as there are many ways to utilize the quad-fin set up.”

With the birth of the tri-fin, many thought the quad was obsolete. Is it the change in board design over the years that helped bring it back?

“As time goes by, proven contemporary design concepts can be blended with older, previously unpopular ideas to produce something fresh, new, and thought provoking. Look at how many shapers have embraced the quad-fin set up and are eager to develop their own designs.”

What kind of feedback are you getting from surfers that you have shaped custom quads for?

“The feedback has been very positive, detailed, and unsolicited. They are eager to tell us about how the boards work and the fun they are having. The boards are loose when they want them to be, they have drive when they need it, and they ride well in the pocket and out on open faces. It’s very inspiring.”

If someone would like to try one, or order a custom, what do they need to do?

“We have a few demo models available now, and are currently building more to offer a wider variety to surfers who are interested in riding one. If a surfer wants to order one, give me a call. I’d be happy to walk them through the process.”