People are amazed to find out that I shaped more than 3,000 surfboards before I watched someone else shape one, but it came naturally to me. My deep love and appreciation of surfing and my trade as a carpenter led me to designing and shaping surfboards starting in the 1970s. For more than thirty-five years, I’ve collaborated with some of the best surfers in the world to continually evolve the designs, relentlessly pushing the edge of both board and surfer.
After returning from Australia, I opened Cyclone Surfboards in Ventura, California, in the early 1980s. Soon after, I partnered with Bill Cillia as a licensee for Nirvana Surfboards, which proved instrumental in developing team riders such as Ross Clark-Jones (RCJ), Mark Sainsbury, Shane Powell, and Ace Buchan (among others).
In 1988, I moved my family to the North Shore of Oahu to be in the proving ground of surfing. From day one, the North Shore has been a gift both professionally and personally: I raised my two daughters here among a strong and grounded community, and access to innovative surfers, powerful waves, and top shapers drove me forward, always striving to improve as a shaper.
I started Bushman Surfboards in “The Swamp” across the street from Sunset Beach. Through Karen Gallagher’s Sunset Beach Surf Shop, I inherited what would come to include some of the best young surfers in the world at the time including Pancho Sullivan, Shawn Briley, Tamayo Perry, Jack and Petey Johnson. Combined with the crew from Australia, I was working with some of the best test pilots around. I would shape a board in the morning, have it back from the glasser by the afternoon, have feedback by the evening on how it performed, and be back in the shaping room the next day, iterating again and again.
Over the years I’ve had the honor to work with more than 200 of the top surfers including: Grant "Twiggy" Baker, Occy, Mick Lowe, Zeke Lau, Flynn Novak, Nathan Hedge, Chris Davidson, Tiago Pires, Tony Ray, "Ant Man" Paul Patterson, Courtney Conlogue, longboarder Kekoa Uemura, and so many more. I have more top-five finishes in the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational than any other shaper with RCJ winning in 2001—the culmination of years of testing.
Although, I’m known for my high-performance boards for powerful and athletic waves like Waimea Bay, Sunset, Pipeline and Backdoor—and other quality waves around the world—there is nothing like a few hours of longboarding two-foot Sunset Point or seeing a grom’s face light up after a particularly good wave to remind me why I continue to make surfboards and surf: There’s really nothing quite like it. Today, surfing is one of our last sacred spaces, away from the incessant pressures of our world and modern life.
Whether, big-wave guns, longboards, single-fins or fishes, I tailor each board to each surfer: where they want to surf and how they want to surf. Progress isn’t the same for everyone—it’s a constant evolution—whether that means being able to take off deeper behind the boil at Waimea or flying faster down the line at a local beach break.
At the end of the day, the joy of surfing is quite simple: It’s surfing with your friends and constantly living the magic.