Ten international shapers will replicate one of legendary Santa Barbara shaper Al Merrick’s classic surfboard designs during the Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters Shape-off presented by US Blanks. One shaper will be judged the winner and will receive $1K and their name etched into the Mike Marshall Perpetual Trophy.
The shape-off competition is one of the many events and exhibits taking place during The Boardroom International Surfboard Show. Celebrating it’s 10th year, the consumer facing surfboard manufacturing trade show showcases the core of the surf industry: surfboards, fins, wetsuits, art, and gear. The Boardroom takes place at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on May 6 & 7, 2017.
Nick Palandrani is the defending champion and represents Nor Cal (Santa Cruz, Ca.). Palandrani is the shaper / owner of SOURCE Surfboards.
Zack Flores 17 years old, from Encinitas, Ca. Zack joins Taz Yassin as the youngest shaper to ever shape in Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters.
Matt Kazuma Kinoshita heads up his Kazuma label out of Maui, Hawaii. Mentored by 2014 Icon of Foam honoree Ben Aipa.
Chris Christenson represents San Diego and was essential when formulating the shape-off concept / rules; a judge at the first shape-off in 2007 honoring Mike Diffenderfer.
Jon Pyzel. Originally from Santa Barbara and representing the North Shore of Oahu, Pyzel shapes boards for current WCT WSL World Champion John John Florence.
Gary McNeill hails from Kirra on the Australian Gold Coast. Accomplished surfer/shaper owns an Australian Title and makes boards for Dave Rastovich.
Wayne Rich from Santa Barbara, Ca. The first shaper selected by the CI crew for this competition. A two time champion (Yater ’10; Ekstrom ’11).
Ryan Sakal is a second generation shaper from Leucadia by way of Huntington Beach. The best surfer of the bunch? He’s in the conversation.
Johnny Cabianca – Brazilian ripper who shapes out of the Basque region of Spain. Builds boards for WCT WSL World Champion (’14) Gabriel Medina among many others.
Rex Marechal. Shaping since the late ’70s, Rex moved to Australia from San Diego in 1992 & represents NSW Central Coast. Older Seaside crew still claims him.
“Al Merrick’s surfboard designs are above reproach. You’d be hard-pressed to find a surfer that hasn’t ridden one of his boards,” said The Boardroom’s Executive Director Scott Bass. “These ten shapers, although highly competitive, realize their time in the shaping bay honors Al Merrick as well as the sacred craft of surfboard shaping.”
“We’ve selected quite a crew of shapers,” said honoree Al Merrick. “They are all talented craftsmen. It’s going to be a fun event. I’m quite humbled and I look forward to a great shape-off at The Boardroom in Del Mar.”
“Each and every event Scott selects an iconic shaper to honor and Al Merrick is undoubtedly the most recognized name in surfboards,” said Jeff Holtby, Vice President of US Blanks. “We’re ecstatic to be a part of The Boardroom as the Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters Shape-off sponsor and look forward to watching this international field of craftsmen display their expertise.”
Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters honoring Al Merrick
presented by US Blanks
DEL MAR, CA. — — Legendary surfboard craftsman Al Merrick will be honored in the Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters Shape-off presented by US Blanks. Ten international shapers will attempt to replicate one of Merrick’s classic designs. The competition takes place during The Boardroom International Surfboard Show at the Del Mar Fairgrounds on May 6 & 7, 2017.
“I’ve been drawn to surfing and surfboard design my whole life,” said Al Merrick. “I am thrilled to be an Icons of Foam honoree. The list of past honorees, which includes John Bradbury and Renny Yater, is remarkable. I’m quite humbled and I look forward to a great shape-off at The Boardroom in Del Mar.”
Twenty WSL WCT World Titles: Anderson, Slater, Curren, Mearig, Mulanovich — their feet on top of shapes & designs by Al Merrick.
AL MERRICK HISTORY
Low-key surfboard shaper from Santa Barbara, California; founder and owner of Channel Islands Surfboards, and the boardmaking industry’s dominant figure since the 1980’s. Merrick was born (1944) in New Jersey, moved with his family to north San Diego County at age seven, and began surfing at 14. He moved to Santa Barbara in 1965, and was in the water at Rincon in late 1967 when Australian Bob McTavish introduced his newly designed short surfboard to California. The performance possibilities offered by the smaller boards—average length dropped from just under 10 feet to eight feet, and continued to fall steadily over the next two years—inspired Merrick to begin shaping; by 1969 he was making boards under the Channel Islands label, and selling them through local surf-retail outlets.
Merrick came to the attention of the surf world in the late ’70s, when he made boards for 1977 world champion Shaun Tomson; at that time he also began working with aerial pioneer Davey Smith and junior-high-school phenom Tom Curren, both of Santa Barbara. As Curren’s reputation grew—at 15 he was winning pro-am contests and being hailed as the savior of California surfing—so, too, did the fortunes of Merrick and Channel Islands.
Merrick pushed his advanced water-channeling double-concave tri-plane hull design in the late ’70s and early ’80s, but his boards generally haven’t been innovative so much as models of synthesis and refinement. It was Australian Simon Anderson who introduced the tri-fin board in 1981, for example, but it was the soft-voiced Merrick who did much of the subsequent fine-tuning that saw the design become the near-universal board choice by mid-decade. “I’m a designer but I haven’t discovered anything,” Merrick admitted in 1987. “I’m just using what’s been around before . . . and I’m sure I’ll take more ideas from somebody in the future.”
Curren won three world titles using Merrick’s boards, with the shaper also acting as Curren’s father figure and part-time agent. Just after Curren left the pro tour in 1991, Floridian marvel Kelly Slater rode Merrick’s boards to the first of eleven world titles. Four-time world champion Lisa Andersen (1994–97) used Merrick’s boards, as did world champions Kim Mearig (1983), Sofia Mulanovich (2004) and dozens of topflight riders including Rob Machado, Taylor Knox, Shane Beschen, Tim Curran, Yadin Nichol, and Dane Reynolds.
Merrick, a devout born-again Christian, opened his first retail shop in 1978, and in the early ’90s he became one of the first shapers to switch over to computer-programmed machine shaping, although each board was hand-finished. By the mid 2000s, Merrick and his small cadre of machine-assisted Channel Islands shapers (including son Britt Merrick) were producing well over 10,000 boards annually, and distributing them to retail outlets around the world.
Merrick was named the top shaper in the world by Australia’s Surfing Life magazine in 1992, 1993, and 1994. Surfer magazine named him #11 in their 2002 ranking of the “25 Most Powerful People in Surfing,” and Surfing magazine included Merrick among their list of the “10 Best Shapers of All Time.” Merrick was inducted into the Surfer’s Hall of Fame at Huntington Beach in 2007.
Flow, a 2006 documentary, chronicled Merrick’s shaping history and features footage of some of Channel Island’s best team riders. – Courtesy Matt Warshaw’s Encyclopedia of Surfing
And their name etched on to the MIKE MARSHALL PERPETUAL TROPHY alongside past winners Ricky Carroll, Pat Rawson, Marc Andreini, Wayne Rich, Matt Biolos, Ward Coffey, Stu Kenson, Matt Calvani, Roger Hinds, Ryan Lovelace & Nick Palandrani.