From Backyard Builder to Brofessional Shaper

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From Backyard Builder to Brofessional Shaper

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Chris Carrozza
Carrozza Surfboards
Huntington Beach, California

I was living in Maui and I saw a blank leaning against the wall at a buddy’s house and I thought to myself, “I think I could whittle that into a surfboard.” I was a carpenter, so I had the confidence with tools, and the blank was so close tolerance that building a board seemed very achievable.

I was 24 at that time and I my friends all rallied together for my birthday and bought me a planer and a blank, which was an amazingly generous and thoughtful gift from friends in your 20s. I shaped that board at a friend’s house in the jungle in Maui. We made a room out of blue tarps, used two 4-foot lights and ran a 300-yard-long extension cord to power the lights and the planer. We had homemade racks and I remember Sur-forming 1/2” off the blank. It was so crude! I made a 6’3” x 18 1/2” x 2 1/4” shortboard thruster with glass-on fins and a flat bottom because I was too afraid to attempt concaves. I used an old 6’4” R Clark Foam blank. It had 5” rocker in the nose and 2 1/4” rocker in the tail. We called that board the whistler because every time I’d bottom turn the fins would whistle! But strangely, the board actually worked well enough to encourage me to build another.

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That first year of shaping was pretty rough. My only guidance was the JC Shaping 101 video. I watched that countless times and took tons of notes. My boards looked and felt pretty good, until I’d compare them to a professionally shaped board, then my limitations became very apparent. Eventually, I developed a trade exchange with a really good shaper, Chris Vandervoort. In exchange for him mentoring me, I’d do carpentry work for him. I built a set of  stairs and railing for his shop and he’d let me watch him shape. A year later I met Neal Norris (Valley Isle Surfboards), who has a different shaping style but was equally helpful and great at verbally articulating the craft. And then I met Tom Parrish while surfing one day and he gave me guidance on building big wave boards. It was a great little shaping community there in Maui, and the quality of my craft is hugely accredited to those shapers influence and guidance.

I moved to Huntington Beach to raise my family and I connected with Bob Davis, who has a fantastic and dynamic understanding of the surfboard business. We partnered to launch Carrozza Surfboards. The craft of building boards is a really slow learning curve, as is developing a client base, but the business side is a whole ‘nother animal. Bob’s been amazing at allowing me to just focus on building boards and refining design elements with customers.

We’ve been developing the business over the past 4 years, but until recently I built all our boards in a backyard shaping bay. In December 2014 this space became available and we decided to make the investment. Bob and I both have maintained restaurant jobs through these past 5 years to keep a positive cashflow. I still work 1 shift a week as a server, just to keep that option open, but hopefully I’ll be able o focus solely on Carrozza Surfboards in the near future. The entire journey has required repeated small leaps of faith, and a couple big leaps, but we’ve taken calculated risks and each step has been very rewarding. It’s also always been a collaboration. Our wives are supportive. I’ve had amazing guidance and support from other shapers. Even my interactions with customers are collaborations and their feedback feels like an investment into Carrozza Surfboards. I’m proud to have my name on the label, but Carrozza Surfboards truly is a collaborative effort, and I’m very grateful for that.


THE BROFESSIONAL

The Brofessional is a user-friendly, performance shortboard. It has a little more volume than it’s high-performance counterpart, but still has all the design elements that allow for fast, tight surfing. You can miss a few days of surfing, and still go out and rip on the board. It’s half “bro” and half “pro”. The shape is a little pulled-in up front and wider in the back; business up front, party in the back!

It has a great blend of contours with balanced, continuous rocker, turned down rails and good volume through the stringer. As with all of board designs that achieve model-status, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

I took the prototype of this board to Peru, Hawai’i, and here in Southern California; surfed it in a huge variety of waves and it’s proven to be very versatile.

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We use the 6’4” EA in Orange density for team riders and recommend Red density for most clients. We mostly use Basswood stringers because I like the way it cuts, but I also use Appelcore and the 4mm poplar ply depending on the client’s preference. 

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We always encourage people to come by and chat with us. It’s an open door policy. I think that the key to getting the right board is mainly found in communication. Most people know what they want, but oftentimes feel uncomfortable conveying their thoughts to the shaper because they might not know the right terms and language. Bob and I both come from a service industry background, so we’re happy to interact with clients and ensure that they get the exact right board for their specific needs.

For more information, visit CarrozzaSurfboards.com

And follow @Carrozza_Surfboards