Whitney Lang

Craftswoman of Surfing
Through the democracy of the Internet,Whitney Lang found a modern route into boardbuilding while simultaneously developing herability as a surfer

I began surfing and shaping at about the same time, in 2008. A lot my initial shaping information came from Swaylocks. I was able to slowly acclimate to the language and the culture through the privacy of my computer. I met people, gathered advice, and got a lot of feedback from the online community in relative anonymity. It felt like a cult that I was breaking into. Once I revealed that I was a female, I did feel a bit of opposition. I’d post a photo of myself shaping and be mortified by the sexist comments people would leave. Thankfully, things have evolved drastically. It’s almost the exact opposite now. 

I’m grateful for those who have shared their knowledge with me. Without my mentors and friends, I would never have advanced my craft to this extent. Shapers seem more eager and willing to share information nowadays, and I think that’s great for board building as a whole. 

It seems like social media has opened a lot of previously closed doors. Prior to Instagram and Facebook, people would never post photos of their work- space. Shapers were very proprietary. Now there is a much more free-flowing exchange of information, and surfers are the ones who will benefit most. 

LEARNING CURVES 

Because I was learning to surf and shape simultaneously, every design improvement that I made was notice- ably different in my surfing. I shape nearly all my own boards, so it’s been a very interesting experiment. I’m able to determine what design elements work without losing anything in translation with a customer. 

I build one board a week, from beginning to end. I shape, glass, set fin boxes. Everything is hand- shaped. I’m not opposed to using a CNC machine, but I still have plenty to learn with a planer and I feel it’s important to master that craft before moving on. 

WORLD TOUR SHAPERS

In addition to building my own boards, I’m fortunate to work at Cos- mic Glassing in Oceanside, California, routing and setting fin boxes. It’s been such a good experience because it gives me access to a wide range of high quality craftsmanship. The exposure alone has exponentially increased my learning curve. 

There aren’t any female shapers that are building boards for World Tour surfers, and there really isn’t a good explanation for why not. My goal is to continue to improve my craft and build boards that are on par with some of the world’s best shapers. Whether it’s me or someone else, I’d love to see World Tour surfers riding boards built by a women shapers. 

THE BOARDROOM SHOW

At the Boardroom Show this year they invited 4 women to participate in a live shaping exhibition. I was so honored to participate. It was such a unique experience, having people watching every detail of my work, but everyone was very positive. The attendees of the show are very astute and the world’s best shapers attend, as well. It’s intimidating shaping in a glass-walled shaping bay because they can analyze your technique, but I was able to tune all that out and just enjoy the process. After I finished the board everyone was very complimentary. It was just an honor to just be amongst such luminaries like Skip Frye, Rusty Priesendorfer, and of course the other female shapers, Kelly Connelly, Valerie Duprat, and my good friend, Christine Brailsford Caro. 

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