The Mel family has a deep history in the surfing industry starting with John Mel Sr., owner of Freeline Surf Shop on 41st ave in Santa Cruz. He paved the way for his son Peter Mel who is no stranger to the surfing world. Read more
SUNSET BEACH, Oahu/Hawaii (Friday, December 2, 2011) Read more
Santa Cruz local Kirk Mcginty of L41 surfboards has created a niche for himself and as a result the L41 logo is starting to litter the waters of Santa Cruz with some rad alternative shapes due to Kirk’s creativity. Sit down, relax, and read up on the birth and the future of L41 Surfboards.
Warning: Reading this article will make you want to call L41 Surfboards and order a board. Perfect timing… Christmas present to yourself!
NCS: How and when did you start shaping surfboards?
KM: I made my first board in 1996 while working at an industrial design firm in Sunnyvale, CA. My degree is in product design and I’m a CAD designer by trade. I’ve always been interested in forms, surfaces, clean curves, etc.. That combined with my surfing background made designing a surfboard inevitable. My first board was made using hi-end software and was cut on a 500K CNC milling machine. This was before anybody was using machines to produce surfboards. I had it glassed at Full Metal Jacket by Don Hicks and Vince Collier and it worked great! I followed up with a few more and eventually got curious about hand shaping. After a handful of bad attempts and some coaching by a good friend and pro shaper I was able to make something that worked. I’d hand shaped a few dozen boards when I met Marlin Clegg at Cybershapes. He ran the first cutting center in Santa Cruz and spoke my language in terms of CAD/CAM and its role in surfboard manufacturing. I quickly realized that I could get much better results by using a mouse and a milling machine than I could with a planer. Eventually, KKL, AKU Shaper and Shape 3D came along and it got much easier to deliver files to cutters in return for next to perfect pre-cut shapes.
What is the name of your surfboard brand?
KM: L41 Surfboards, short for “Lower 41st Avenue” — one of the most vibrant neighborhoods in Santa Cruz and home to some of my favorite waves . It started out as a sort of inside plug to my friends, then as it grew I liked the idea of capturing some of the energy of the area and translating it through my brand.
NCS: What is your favorite aspect of shaping?
KM: Hands down the greatest thing is handing off a custom shape to a stoked customer. Second is to be creating something functional with the tools I have and receiving positive feedback from the people who ride it. There’s also the therapeutic aspect and hands-on creative value to getting in the shaping room with some good music and dialing in a foam sculpture.
NCS: How about your least favorite?
KM: Tough question. Probably the learning curve involved in designing good boards. It’s taken years and endless tweaks to get to where I am now. As soon as I think I’ve got a winner, a subtle change to rocker, fin placement, thickness flow, etc. can make it better. This can be frustrating but then I have to remind myself that there’s a natural evolution to everything. This constant learning and change is vital to the design process.
NCS: Is there a certain shape you sell more of?
KM: I do a fair share of performance shortboards but have to say alternative shapes are my niche. Anything short, wide and flat and any variety of non-standard quads are a staple. I also do a lot of performance SUP designs, long boards, eggs – anything really.
NCS: Do a lot of your customers come in knowing what dimensions they want already or do they tell you their skill level and type of waves they surf and then let you run with it?
KM: I’d say half of my custom orders are from people with a particular design in mind. With the advent of model names (i.e., dumpster diver, rocket, flyer, etc.) it’s gotten much easier to interpret a customer’s wants. Of course there are also customers who don’t know exactly what board to order. Using my skill set and experience it can be fun and challenging to determine what would be best for them. I also get orders from folks who have an idea that maybe goes beyond what is considered “normal”. These are the projects I like best. An example would be a high performance SUP based on the Mini-Simmons platform.
NCS: Where is your local surf spot?
KM: The Hook. However it really depends on the time of year and wave conditions. I basically surf anywhere between Rockview and Trees with occasional jaunts down to the beaches and Moss Landing.
NCS: What do enjoy most about living Santa Cruz?
KM: The best thing is the consistency and quality of the waves here. Every day is surfable given the right equipment. I also love how accessible the ocean is and the geography.
NCS: Where would you like to see yourself five years from now?
KM: Retired and living in Costa Rica would be nice but probably not realistic. I hope to be happy, secure in my job and still crankin’ out good boards for people!
NCS: Who are your influences?
KM: If I had to pick any particular people in the industry whose craft or skill I especially respect and appreciate I’d say Gerry Lopez, John Carper and Rich Pavel. But being self-taught and a naturally creative person I never really aspired to be like anyone else or make something “as good” as or better than another guys.
NCS: What would you say to the individuals that are just are thinking about shaping or just started?
KM: There’s no better feeling than riding a board that you made yourself. No matter how crappy you may think it looks it’ll always be magic.
NCS: Is there anyone that you would like to thank?
KM: I’d like to thank Mark Brown and the crew at Paradise Fiberglass for years of amazing glassing. Also David Vernor for sharing his tips, tricks and industry contacts with me.
NCS: Lets start with your stats.
AM: Alex Martins, 39 yrs old, born in Recife, Brasil
NCS:How long have you been surfing?
AM: I have been surfing for 28 years
NCS: What made you want to start surfing in the first place?
AM: Just followed my friends Read more
RICH LANDERER “RICKLAND” A Peru native, Rich grew up in Florida and moved to California in 1997 which sparked his shaping interest. Rich has developed into one of California’s premier shapers with a unique personal touch that is felt in each of his shapes. Rich has worked under some of the most prominent shapers in the industry. Rich does all the artwork for Rickland. He is recognized for his personal style and creative mind that is unleashed in the paint pen and stencil designs on his shapes. Customizing your own ideas onto your surfboard, either art or shape designs, Rickland is proud of his personal approach to each surfer. The following Master shapers truly influenced his practice and here is what he says about them:
Omar Etcheverry is no stranger to the surf industry. After being on the WQS for 10 yrs he had a change in interests and is now pursuing other endeavors but that does not stop him from surfing and being part of the industry! Get a cup of coffee, relax, and read up on Mr. Etcheverry.
NCS: How did Aqua Surf Shop start?
AQUA: My friend Tony Canadas opened up Aquaholics, which became the present day Aqua. I (Aleks Petrovitch) have worked in surf shops off & on my whole working life, so often I came in to help Tony run the shop when he would take off on adventures. Eventually Tony wanted to work on other projects, and grew a little tired of retail (it is not the most exciting thing in the world). I have a knack for it and love surfboards, so Tony asked me if I wanted to take over the shop. It took a little while but along with the help of my friend Devin Dargell, we did.
In 2000, Ladera Skateboards began as an experiment in a high school wood shop class. With nothing more than a rusty jigsaw, a sheet of plywood and a passion for skating, they developed a skateboard that was vastly different from the cookie-cutter decks available at the local skate shops. Adorned with hand-painted art and a shape that merged style with function, the first Ladera skateboard captured an element of individuality and expressiveness that would eventually define the company in its entirety.
Ladera Skateboards is much more than a brand. It’s a tight-knit crew of local skaters from Santa Cruz, California who’ve formed an alliance based on countless skate sessions and endless good times. Over the years, the Ladera Skateboard crew’s grassroots efforts, guerrilla marketing tactics and unique image have helped to build name and increase brand awareness.
Get the low down on Ladera Longboards
9 Questions with Jennifer Taylor, President of “Smart Girls Who Surf”
Being in the sun isn’t just about having fun — it’s about being safe, smart and protected. As beneficial as Vitamin D is for our skin, it’s even more important to keep our skin well hydrated while blocking the most harmful UVA and UVB rays. Smart Girls Who Surf and Surf-Vival know exactly how important this is to men, women, children, and families, so they created a premium line of earth-friendly sunscreens and products that protect the environment without using toxic chemicals or synthetic preservatives. Staying safe while playing in the sun has never been so fun — and easy!