Looking back to 2022, the past year could be tagged as tricky: weakened spending power, overstocks in some segments, shortages for others… What was the ‘22 bottom line for your brand and what do you foresee for ’23?
When I began building surfboards in 1968, surfboards were the entire industry of surfing. Of course, a lot has changed in the surf business since then. The underlying reason I chose this path and livelihood was this was a way to stay close to surfing. Over the many years, I came to understand that the business of surfing is much the same as the surf that has allowed us to do what we do…sometimes it’s up, and sometimes it’s down, that is the nature of it. When Covid hit, we were over-busy, making and selling as many boards as was possible which created a whole set of problems of its own…now, just when we figure out those solutions, more stuff piles on. Riding a wave is much the same…just when we expect it to happen one way, the wave throws us a curve, and we need to readjust…and do it quick! 2022 was a great year, although not without some tricky sections. We’ve already ridden this wave, 2023 is another whole wave, and we’ll just surf it like we’ve done to all the rest, dealing with it as it breaks.
Which category(ies) is(are) performing most within your range: entry-level, high-perf, midlengths & retro crafts, funboards, longboards?
All of the above. There is a board in my Surftech lineup for every one, every wave and every condition. The Long haul is a pretty cool traditional longboard, the Squirty and Pocket Rocket are all-around performance short boards, Something Fishy is one that can teach a surfer what to love about a Fish if you don’t already know and the Midway and Little Darlin are both easy riding fun shapes. We actually have a new glider coming out made in an eco-friendly construction that I am really excited about. I’ve been testing it down in Baja and think it could be the one board that everyone should have in their quiver. I think people are really going to like this new one.
What used to be considered as alternative crafts (twins, midlengths) are the new normal and overtook the classic performance shortboard sales. Does this mean the fun factor is more important than the actual performance? If we were to quote Phil Edwards: “The best surfer out there is the one having the most fun.”
Ha ha the two go hand in hand. One day, you lean one way…the next, you find yourself embracing the other way. Surfing is a performance. Sometimes for the judges, sometimes for the beach, often times for your friends on the shoulder and most often for yourself. What really matters is that a surfer comes in feeling good, happy with how the board rode the waves that particular day. The fun a new board can bring to a surf is often overlooked, there really is nothing quite like it. By changing up what you’d expect a board to do, you as a surfer are forced to think outside your box. This is a good thing, it forces you to learn and improve. This process is uplifting. In the end it always ends with more satisfying performances and bigger fun.
A few years back, high-end techy EPS/carbon surfboards were the hype. But eventually the masses stick to an old-fashioned PU board. Isn’t the lack of innovation a threat for the development of the surfboard industry?
I really hope surfers and shapers will continue to innovate, and don’t see any reason they would stop after so many years of doing so. Every board shaped and glassed is a chance for innovation. Every time I go surfing, I’m thinking about what I can do to improve the board I’m riding…to make it ride better and to improve the construction. Like I said above, I’m really enjoying one of my Gliders I made with Surftech. It is an EPS/epoxy hand finished board utilizing flax fiberglass and eco resins that is extraordinarily durable. The slight decrease in weight of the board makes it feel very lively. The low rocker makes paddling easier and maximizes the glide…and isn’t that what you want in a glider? Changes don’t have to be big or showy. Sometimes small changes can have huge impacts.
Nowadays e-com is everything but negligible in the surfboard market: how do you deal with this channel (D2C, distribution partners, etc.)?
The local surf shop is a special part of surf culture and will continue to be for many years to come. Surfing is a very personal thing that is very social at the same time, the surf shop is the place that brings these two important if seemingly opposite aspects of every surfer’s experience together. I don’t know if it’s possible to find that online, so I feel very lucky to have some of the best surf shop partners in the business working to sell my boards.
The Something Fishy is a blend of Steve’s old template with Gerry’s take on the rails, bottom shape, and rocker. Gerry Fish, like a Lis Fish, is still fast as heck, but the updates give Gerry’s version a bit more maneuverability and make the board easier to control. We loved the Something Fishy so much that we decided to build it in our exclusive Fusion HD construction. This lightweight and responsive build is great for high-performance ripping, down-the-line projections, and other aggressive surfing techniques.
The Little Darlin’ is a sweet, quick, easy-riding board that can take it to powerful waves with confi dence. You can trust the Little Darlin will catch any wave while still handling late takeoffs, steep drops, and fast-hollow sections. Surftech’s exclusive Fusion HD technology adds to the board’s response.
Gerry Lopez calls this glider the “secret weapon.” If you are looking for an unfair advantage over the rest of the crowd, look no further than this fast paddling, quick gliding, lightning bolt of a board. Very subtle bottom contours allow Gerry’s Glider to move over flat water with ease, giving this board a feel of magical momentum.