INTRODUCTION THIS IS PART 1 OF AN ONGOING PROJECT: Traditionally surfboards have been handmade by individuals fueled by a passion for the craft and community. For many, surfing is more than a sport, it’s a spiritual experience and connection to the ocean. It’s also a sport defined by the community, the “locals only” mentality that not only defines territory but the friendships between a surfer and the guy who made the board. A shaper knows where and how you surf and what your strengths and weaknesses are. Australia is home to small but globally recognized workshops. With the introduction of CNC machines and inferior imports flooding the market however, mass production and cheap labor have impacted this trade, with many smaller businesses often struggling to compete. The troubles facing these workshops have added to those brewing at the very same in Australia’s steel, aluminum, automotive and garment industries. With renewed public debate and media commentary on the future of manufacturing, we now face a crisis of ‘making things’ in Australia. Luckily the craft hasn’t vanished completely. An elite group of master shapers remain, with younger generations revitalizing the industry at a grassroots level. To many surfers, hand shaping is still considered the best way to make a high performance board. Custom boards offer award winning designs and quality unmatched by the competition. To create a board 100% by hand takes an expert eye and skilled craftsman though. This knowledge can only be learned over time, passed down from generation to generation. Despite cheap imports flooding the market, regional demand still persists for locally-made surfboards due to the high rate of replacement, variety of surfing styles and physical variances of surfers, along with a continued respect and understanding of the culture and benefits custom shaping offers.