Mike Whisnant: Master of Masters
Mike Whisnant of Whisnant Surfboards in Jax Beach Florida just won his third shape off title at Surf Expo. What makes this 2016 win important is that all the competitors were former champions. In this Master of Masters event, Whisnant competed against Jim Hannan and Jeff Haney to attempt to replicate a Channel Island’s famed shortboard model, The Proton. Al and Britt Merrick were on hand to judge the event. Here’s what Mike had to say about the event.
Shaping a surfboard in this environment is a bit unique. I don’t mind the audience, but the shaping bay presents challenges. With no real walls, it’s really hard to see your lines. I always have customers come in to watch their boards get shaped so having an audience isn’t a problem. I do put a whole lot of pressure on myself to perform though. I do like winning.
The particular board that we were attempting to replicate was about 10 years old, so I had to dig back and remember how to shape that style of shortboard. It had a crazy amount of rocker compared today’s boards. And knowing that Al Merrick was going to critique my shape made me a bit nervous. As I got to talk to both him and his son Britt, it became very clear how humble and extremely smart they are. It was an absolute pleasure meeting them and their crew.
Events like this are really important for both shapers and surfers to participate in and support. It challenges shapers to come out of their comfort zone. It also offers the audience a unique opportunity to see how much work, thought, and design goes into the boards they have on their racks. Winning the Shape Offs in 2011 and 2015, and now this Masters of the Masters in 2016, has helped legitimize my shaping abilities. It has put me in the mix with shapers and board builders that I have always looked up to.
I feel honored to have my work acknowledged in this platform. I started shaping in 1973, and got my professional start making stock boards for our local shop Aqua East. My business has constantly evolved since then. I’ve had a consistent focus on high-performance shortboard, but last year I did more classic longboards than ever before including resin tints and polishes. This year so far the interest has been on epoxy shortboards. The evolution of surfing and evolving interests of surfers keeps my job interesting and challenging.
Learn more at WhisnantSurfboards.com