Shapers – Greg Webber Interview By Aaron Checkwood
Home: Lord Howe Island, Australia
First Shaped Board: 1970
Teamrider: Taj Burrow
Boards Shaped Per Year: 250
Favorite Tool: Computer
When you’re working with Taj, or anybody for that matter, what’s the key point for them to express to you as a shaper?
To get any success in the board, I think it has to do with speed and responsiveness. It’s easier for me if there’s been a bit of a problem (with a previous board). But if the guy’s already ripping, and he’s on one of the best designer’s boards, then it’s more a matter of me doing what I do sometimes–that’s probably true for any shaper. There’s not much anyone can say–I think it’s just a matter of who’s looking at them.
I did a board for Andy Irons not so long ago. I made him a board in America, he won a contest on it and won Bells on it as well. When I went to shape the board, I wasn’t going to give him the dimensions I did, because (Matt) Biolos was saying, “This is what you’re going to do, Webber,” with the appropriate accent. “Webbah“–that’s the way he says it.
So, I got the proportions that he was suggesting and thought, “Well, let’s have this guy surf.” I remember getting this grunty, tearing maneuver off the top of the edge of the wave in my mind. You know, something I don’t know how to describe with words. I thought of that and tried to make a board that was going to be considered a bit animalistic. So, sometimes you can just get inspired by the way a person surfs, and you don’t have to talk to them.
How can the average surfer find their magic board?
The average guy has a greater chance of getting a magic board if he’s just surfed one. I’d say 90 percent or more of surfers in the world are riding crap–probably because of who made it and how it was made. Not many people would put up with playing tennis or golf using a piece of sporting equipment if it was made so average. The fact is, with most other sporting products, you’ve got an opportunity to use the very best in the world–you don’t actually get much of an opportunity to use the crap. The opposite applies in surfing–the majority only have the opportunity to ride their mates’ boards, and the minority end up riding some of the best boards in the world.
You said you only shape or finish about 250 boards a year. Most guys, when I ask them, say it’s 1,500 or 2,000. Is there any specific reason for that?
I don’t think it’s a good thing to be doing more work than you really want to. It sounds pretty weird and lazy, but if I can get away with one teamrider and put a huge amount of energy into the finishing of each of his boards, then I’ll have a success rate that might be better than any other designer out there. So, if I don’t want Taj to ride someone else’s boards, I’ve got to blow the other shapers away. And to do that, I’ve got to be in a f–ing good mood every time I shape one of his boards. It goes back to the smoothness thing–when you’re really in tune and you’re not stressed on one other thing, you’ll get something that’s closer to immaculate.