Michael Baron (M.B.) of Byrne surfboards isn’t your ordinary shaper. Not only is he highly revered by a number of surfers around the world for his shapes, but at 40-something, M.B. travels the world charging spots like Uluwatu and Cloudbreak, trains with his teamriders, and is a genuinely great person. I guess it’s safe to say he’s a bit of a legend¿check him out.¿A.C.
How many years have you been shaping?
I think … 31.
Tom Carroll was recently here from Australia on a promotional tour and he stopped by to talk shaping with you. How important is it to get rider feedback, especially from guys like him?
It’s very important with Tom. He’s someone who really knows his designs, as well as Jeff Booth, who I also work with. To get Tom in the shaping room is always a good thing for input. We worked on gun designs, as well as small-board designs. As a soul surfer now, Tom enjoys surfing as much as when he was competing¿if not more¿and he’s into trying new things. He always comes in with new ideas.
Who are your teamriders? Who do you shape boards for?
Right now¿Tom Carroll, my old favorite Joey Buran, Jeff Booth, Todd Prestage, Todd Morcom, Phil MacDonald, Jason Bennett, Jeremy Heit, Brian Pacheco in Hawai’i, and Peter Labrador. Some of my younger guys are Dane Johnson, Justin Wiegand, Matty Merel, and Brad Burdick.
When some of your younger teamriders come in to figure out the best shape for themselves, what do you suggest?
Going off of their old board. I really encourage the guys to come into the shaping room with me¿I teach them what they’re riding so the next time they come into the shaping room, the feedback is that much better and more pure.
You used to be a competitive surfer yourself, and you still surf a lot. How important is it for a shaper to surf?
It’s very important. I couldn’t put carving foam into the numbers if I didn’t know the feeling. I’m sure there’re a lot of master craftsman out there who can carve foam, but the feeling and the carving go hand in hand.
Currently, who’s your favorite surfer to watch?
Taylor Knox has always been one of my favorite surfers, along with Tom Carroll, and of course Slater and Taj Burrow. I really enjoy the new up-and-coming surfers, as well as the power surfers like Egan and Occy.
You shape in a lot of different countries, and you’ve done a lot of traveling in those 31 years. What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever seen?
A coup in Venezuela for three days. I woke up after landing the day before only to look outside and see F-16s bombing the airport I came in at.
What other craziness have you been around?
Riots in Bali and Indonesia, and typhoons in Japan.
You have team workouts where you promote physical fitness. How important do you think physical fitness is for your teamriders?
That’s one thing that’s changed in the past ten years. I think sitting on the couch and going surfing when you want is outdated¿you have to do something beyond that for your mental and physical strategies. I think Occy and Tom Carroll have shown that to us. I really feel that if you’re going to be one of the top surfers in the world, or even a good surfer in the world, then you’re going to need physical training.