Ken White: Shape Off Champion
Ken White is the 2016 Surf Expo Shape Off Champion. Ken competed against 5 other shapers in the event, judged by former winner Ricky Carroll, to replicate a 60’s era Hobie Surfboards ‘Gary Propper Model’ longboard. With a long history as a ghost shaper and working along 3 different coastlines of the US, this victory represents a long overdue acknowledgement of White’s hard work and acumen. We caught up with Ken to hear his thoughts on the event.
Shaping in this environment is definitely challenging. Shaping bays generally have dark colored walls to help see the contours of the board. The “fish bowl” style shaping bay has glass walls which let in light and gives no contrast to the board. It makes it difficult to see what you are doing. The audience is watching, bumping into the glass, keeping you from concentrating on the task at hand; shaping a surfboard. That, combined with the clock counting down, makes for a stressful experience.
We were asked to replicate a Hobie, Gary Propper Model. I had never met Hobie, but have always admired Hobie Surfboards and I’ve ridden a few, in my time. The name itself stands for surfing heritage, in my book. The biggest challenge with shaping this model was getting the rolled bottom correct. This board has a nice rolled bottom that blends beautifully with the rails, making a nice 50/50 rail. It has the design characteristics of an old school log. The nose was flat with a slight flip in the deck the last few inches.
I think these shaping events help keep the true nature of what board building truly is. Before the invention of the CNC Machine, there was a guy with a planer mowing foam, creating a surfboard by hand. To some it’s archaic, but I feel that hand-shaping needs to be remembered and passed down. It is art and feels good to create something by hand. This event helps show the public what goes into shaping and building a surfboard, how much work is involved, and how much skill is needed. These events help showcase talented individuals that may never get the recognition they deserve. It helps put like-minded people in the same place at the same time.
White Surfboards has been a culmination of over 20 years. I started out working in glass shops in San Diego California. I’ve worked in every phase of board manufacturing. Back then it was hard to become a shaper. Everyone had to work their way up, and even then, you needed luck to get started. I was fortunate to meet Rich Pavel. He took me under his wing and taught me how to shape. I can’t thank him enough for honoring me with this gift. Through my relationship with Rich I have met so many people in the surf industry. John Holly was another critical person in my upbringing into the shaping community. I spent many hours in the shaping room with him. Dick Brewer, Sid Madden, Bear Mirandon, Joe Ghio, Peter Benjamin, Chris Christenson and Steve Stack all played a roll in the early days of feeding my hunger to make surfboards. I have had the honor in building boards in California, Florida and Texas. Over the years, and to this day, I ghost shape for many different labels. I have actually shaped boards that I signed “CASPER”. There are many ghost shapers out there that don’t get the recognition they deserve. I have been told that behind every great shaper there is a great ghost shaper. Because of the people I have been blessed to work with, I like to shape all kinds of surfboards and SUP’s. I definitely appreciate where I have been and look forward to where I am going. I appreciate everybody, past and present, for helping me along.
I would like to thank everyone involved with putting on these events. I would also like to thank my wife and kids for helping me live my dream.
Follow @whitesurfboardsllc to see more of Ken’s work.