After decades of shaping surfboards mostly for friends and family, it has been a pleasant surprise to discover how much fun it has been making surfboards for the general public via the Nowtro/Aleutian Juice website. My customers are terrific. Each and every one of them places the surfboard at the center of their lives and reveres the lore and process in which they take shape in dimly lit workshops. I suppose we are each grateful that after the near extinction of the local hand-built custom surfboard, that the craft and its many-storied traditions are enjoying such a fundamentalist resurgence.
Each of my customers has sought me out because they desire not just a certain level of craftsmanship or a particular brand or logo on their surfboard. They want a link to the glorious days when surfers had a say in the design and construction of their most cherished possession. And only a custom surfboard will do that for them.
They want to surf the way they want to surf…
They are the Riders of the Lost Arc…
Aaron Ross was one of the very first surfers to contact me when this website was pushed last year. After kicking the tires on a number of board designs, he settled on this esoteric model that has enjoyed a minor vogue on the central coast: the G.B.A.M! (as in God Bless Al Merrick) It’s basically an updated version of the sort of small wave tri fin Curren was riding in `84-`85. Widepoint back a bit, with that high hip-wing creating a sharp pivot point precisely between the stance.
Glassed by Watermans’ Guild, resin tint by my old friend Greg Martz.
Colin lives in Honolulu and waited a long time to have this 7'0" V6 single fin shaped and shipped from California. As luck would have it, he ended up picking it up out in Makaha on his birthday.
7'0" X 20.375" X 3.0"
US Blanks 73A SuperBlue Natural Rocker 4mm ply
Glassed and tinted by Kimo Kauihou of Kepuhi Point Glassworks, Makaha, Hawaii
This 10'6" Beachboy Model paddle/surf board was commissioned by Steve "Big Slide" Schirmacher for his gal, Mila. For her entrée into ocean sports I designed an all-around cross-country paddle vehicle and clipped off the tanker ears for smooth entry and Teflon chop-busting.
10'6" X 29.0" X 4.75"
1.5lb EPS; epoxy glassing by Ryan Martz at Watermans' Guild
Jon's "Wasabi PSV" (Paddle/Surf Vehicle) is still a mainstay of his surfing peregrinations far offshore Kailua on O'ahu. Born, designed, shaped, and glassed a coconut's hurl from the blue Makaha water, the PSV is a time machine that restores olo glide and regal stances and is inarguable proof bolstering Phil Edwards' statement that "I don't care what anyone says about the shortboard being faster -- on a longer board you end up further down the beach."
12'0" X 21" X 5.5" single fin, no need cord.
Glassed by Makaha charger Kimo Kauihou at his Kepuhi Point Glassworks underneath the kiawe tree out west....
Puerto Rican waterman Thomas Kosmoll has a huge surf/paddlecraft toybox, including everything from a bodyboard on up to a 4-man Hawaiian surfing canoe. ...And now these winter guns designed as the only kind of wallhanger surfers like him are interested in -- 15' -20' high and green and wet.
6'10" V6 (six-channel) single fin with concaved deck and scooped tail footwells. 21.5" X 2.75"
11'0" Hybrid Gun V6 single fin, combining planshape and design elements from the Brewer school, both 'Pipeliner' era and 1970s North Shore gun epoch.
22" X 3.85"
Resinate Fabulosa by Watermans' Guild
KK was one of the original cadre of Makaha surfers to follow Brian Keaulana's lead in turning beachboy-style surfing from a quaint pastime into a fullblown new sport. This 7'10" standup surfboard was built as a travel board -- the mission statement was that this super-short standup board had to fit into a travel bag with a 5'4" Fish and a kiteboard nestled onto the deck.
7'10" X 27" X 3.75"
Glassed by Kimo Kauihou at Kepuhi Point Glassworks, Makaha
Ktel Aussie Walter Peters gave me carte blanche to come up with a concept board -- as long as function prevailed over HipsterGram dadaism. These sorts of truncated, oblate surfboards seem all the rage now but there were tons of these things back in the early 1970s. ...However, they didn't have chine rails, a concaved deck, scooped footwells on the tail, inverted spiral vee, and three fins like this 5'11.5" SeaBiscuit.
5'11.5" X 21.0" X 2.35"
US Blanks 65A New Red -.5" Nose Rocker 4mm ply
Jello mold Ambrosia glasswerks minus the marshmallows executed under extreme duress by Gregorio de la Martz at Watermans' Guild in Santa Ana, California
Mark "Sutho" Sutherland is an Aussie surfer and artist probably known best for his hilarious Gonad Man comic series. This 6'6" V6 single fin made it to LalaLand via a route even more circuitous than Gonad Man himself: SBP to SNA to LAX to PER to SYD to LLL itself, where it now forages the feral, furrowed wine-dark seas of the Nambucca.
6'6" 6-channel bottom 19.75" X 2.7" single fin
Glam-glassing from the wiley wizards at Watermans' Guild
My friend Lisa Stinger can take only one surfboard on her globe-circling live-aboard sailboat. After her beloved Fish was folded, spindled and mutilated I convinced her that an MPegg would prove a much more versatile Desert Isle board, especially with the offroad rally package of a nitro-burning tri fin array.
6’0” X 21” X 2.75"
Glassed by Kimo Kauihou iat Kepuhi Point Glassworks in Makaha, Hawaii.
"Big Slide" Steve has commissioned fleet after fleet of plus-size gliders from all sorts of shapers possessing shaping bays longer than 9'. This triptych of dreadnoughts armor plated by the incomparable Watermans' Guild might turn heads in southern California but in Makaha 11 and 12-foot boards are no big t'ing, Bu.
From left to right:
7'7" V6 (six-channel) MPegg 17.9" X 22.85" X 15.65" X3.0"
12'0" Makaha Machine 15.0" 23.75" X 13.0" X 3.6"
11'0" Makaha Machine 15.75 X 23.0" X 12.65" X 3.4
Kailua, Oahu surfer Neil Piper's boards are so small I can keep him supplied in new boards via UPS from the mainland -- just need one guitar box, eh? Neil's dad Jon is a good friend who built all my shaping rooms on Oahu and is a veteran surfboard tradesman and all around MacGyver. He glasses all his and his son's boards, including this 5'0" X 16.65" X 1.85" PiperCub Model.
Looking back over the past quarter century, it struck me that I have made a lot of boards for Tom, beginning in August 1988 when I was a lowly apprentice shaper under Rusty Preisendorfer. What is most striking, in retrospect, is that Tom was always singularly far-seeing and eager to experiment with new board designs or hybrid branches of surfing. For example, he was the first surfer of his status to queue up for a Stubb-Vector, a Widowmaker, and was frothing front and center for the first standup surfboards that were creating a new paddlesport in Makaha. Still in the Carroll Collection, this Widowmaker was glassed by Watermans' Guild back in the early 1990s.
Carl Wieser is my oldest friend. We learned to surf together in Newport Beach in the early `70s. He was my first paying customer for one of my boards back in 1988. I used the last Clark Foam 85 I’ll probably ever see to make him this 7’2″ X 20″ X 2.7″ ‘Free Ride’ Buggs Model Widowmaker. This Watermans’ Guild beauty is now the reddest board in all of France.
The surfboard design I feel closest to is my Brewer "Pipeliner" redux, the Makaha Machine. Having the fabled walls of Makaha Point as my backyard for 18 years, this surfboard was my answer to the Excalibur-like task that faced all the greats from Downing to Trent to Noll to the Keaulanas: How to make it from Beal's house up top through the Bowl and into the channel without getting -- as Buzzy remarked -- "bounced off the bottom like a ping-pong ball." Puerto Rico surfer Pablo Fernandez loves these designs, too. He's had a few of these beautifully tinted and glassed Watermans' Guild boards over the past few years, and his enthusiasm for every nuance of shape and cosmetics is infectious. I love working with surfers like him, and it makes the "dust, debt and tears" of being a backyard bespoke surfboard builder worthwhile...
Kauai’s Evan Valiere with his 11-foot Doomsday Machine. The good thing about vintage component single fin guns like this is that they catch the wave so easily; the bad thing is that they catch the wave so easily… gulp! This is out of the the classic 113D blank with a center strip cut out and glued up with the old Clark Foam 112A bottom rocker centered – a Pat Rawson bottom curve and it don’t get any better than that.
Glassed by Imua Fiberglass in Lihue, Kauai
Brooke is a surfer/shaper herself and thus is able to zero in on exactly what sort of surfboard she wants. This 5’10″ X 20.5″ X 2.6″ became a convertible quad/single-fin model so she could share it with the boyfriend. The fabric inlays were her idea, of course…
Glassed by Jeff Hull guys at Resist Surfboards in Ventura
Central Coast Alumni from the Early Years, John McMahon, wanted a surfboard that would perform like a Leatherman tool and do it all. This 8’6″ turned out better than anticipated, according to John. The active ingredient is an evenly-foiled thin and boxy-railed profile and neutral rocker. Glued up the US Blanks 95M with the 92A bottom rocker and thinned it down to 2.35.
Moondoggie’s Beach Club alumni Erik Johnson has had dozens of Aleutian Juice surfboards over the past 25 years. He lives in San Diego now but still needs to come up to SLO now and then for the Early Years mojo, and get an ice cream headache or two before taking a brace of freshies south to warmer climes. These are classic, time-honored EJ models: A vintage 90s-style Bali Pin at 6’6″ X 18.8″ X 2.375″; and a skatey little Occ-ster at 6’0″ X 19.175″ X 2.2″
Glassed by Russell Hoyte Designs in Ventura
Blair Kerley was so keen on modernizing the sort of Brewer/Parrish single fins he remembered when he worked at the Lightning Bolt store in Honolulu, it was infectious. I told him I knew just the blank – the wonderful Rawson 610A from US Blanks. Love this blank for period single fin volumes and foils. 6’9″ X 20.5″ X 3.15
Blue resin tint on a six-channel? Who else but Greg Martz at Watermans’ Guild!
Noted polar surf explorer Dr. Mark Renneker hates golden poppies – hates ‘em! The spring wildflowers usher in the death-rattle of the winter surf season, and Renneker typically staves off the onslaught of fog and onshore slop by doing two things: going to Alaska to seek out more winter, and ordering a bunch of big wave guns to fondle through the long waveless summer.
9’8″ X 21.5″ X 3.35″ triple-stringer single-fin
9’0″ X 20.85″ X 3.175 triple-stringer single-fin
Custom glass on fins by Brian Bills of BK Rudders on Oahu.
Renneker’s armada glassed by Watermans’ Guild, clearly running low on red paint…
There comes a time in every surfer’s life when he needs a Desert Island Surfboard. Kauai surfer Dr. Nick Leonard wanted a Swiss Army Board and so I suggested a design I have used many times for another sawbones, Dr. Mark Renneker of The Most Frequently Frozen Surfboard fame – the “Vector Cuda”. Essentially a refined and narrow version of the Stubb-Vector, this 7’2″ X 20.375″ X 2.75″ all-arounder can be a gun, a hybrid shortboard and even a -gasp! – turbo-charged funboard. In any situation, Cessna 205 bush plane or Boeing 767 or even Tacoma shortbed, this is the board to take on the road with you….
Glassed by Watermans’ Guild in Santa Ana, California
This 6'0" MPegg landed in Bali courtesy of Kimo Kauihou of Makaha, delivered to his friend Gino Andrias. Since this is a quad + 1 fin array, I suppose Gino is speedloading a cup of strong black Sumatran coffee in order to up Michael Petersen's jittery hand jive to 78rpm.
6'0" X 21.0" X 2.7"
US Blanks 65A New Red -.5" nose rocker 4mm ply
Resin swirl and everything else soup to nuts by Kimo Kauihou out west in Makaha, Hawaii.
A surfboard connoisseur par excellence, Dr. Michael Lutwin possesses a plethora of positively pedigree planks, yet nonetheless craved a postmodern disk shape that actually had forward gears. This 6’6″ X 20.5″ X 2.6″ 6-channel “MPegg” Widowmaker-class single-fin was responsible for that sonic boom you heard on Kauai a month or so ago.
Custom Aleutian Juice Widowmaker fins by Brian Bills
Glassed by the fearless, peerless, and frequently futless, Watermans’ Guild
Jeff Moore wasn’t messing around this past fall – 4 new surfboards he wanted and 4 new surfboards he got.
Thanks to the folks at Watermans’ Guild they are even watertight. Left to right: 6’3″ X 20″ X 2.65 Occ-ster; 6’3″ X 20″ X 2.65″ MicroStubby; 6’4″ X 19.9″ X 2.75″ travel module; and 6’7″ X 21.5″ X 3.25″ MP Disc.
John Phillips lives in North Carolina and wrote asking about upgrading his small wave game. This Malolo design is stuffed with speed-gathering components and sharp-breakaway edges, including a chine rail from wing to nose. Rusty Preisendorfer used to make small wave grovelers for Peter Townend a lot like this, and I drew from that inspiration.
At 6’0″ X 22″ X 2.825 with a twangy quad array, this board should skim on the water like a flying fish.
Glassed super light and tight by Russell Hoyte Designs
Suzy lives in South Korea and works for Patagonia. She was able to pick up a custom single fin in Ventura while there on a busman’s holiday there. This 5’11” V6 is a shorter version of the board I worked on with Andrew Kidman for Steph Gilmore a few years ago.
5’11” X 19.375” X 2.4"
Glassing by Hoyte Designs in Ventura, California