Crafting-focused event a different kind of surf expo

Scott Bass and his crew at Sacred Craft have a problem — where to put all the people that want to visit this event next year. For me, and many others, I suspect, Bass’ pain is our gain, proving a combination reunion and surfboard building symposium. The reunion occurs in catching up with longtime friends, in my case Kevin Kinnear, Donald Takayama, Tom and Rosa Wegener. The symposium is really too involved to explain in less than twice this word count.
Walking the aisles I saw everything from perfectly crafted balsawood masterpieces, Dick Brewer Surfboards Hawaii reproductions and ’60s mini guns, to boards being hand-painted by Wade Koniakowski. Dessa Kirk, who was tutored by master shaper and surf legend Skip Frye, stood by a stack of pretty boards she shaped herself, each carefully crafted blank brought further to life by the addition of the larger-than-life painted ladies that grace them. (More on Dessa in a future column.)
A shaping booth was set at the north and south end of the building known as Wyland Center. There, veteran shapers like Dave Daum and precocious apprentice Ryan Burch rotated turns crafting boards from 10’0” to 5’6”. In another booth, shapers like surf legend Reno Abellera, who was runner up to famed shaper Pat Rawson, put their years of skill to the test for a $1,000 first prize. The competition and the challenge was to replicate a ’70s Dick Brewer Surfboard that had been hand shaped by Brewer 30-some years ago.
Known as The Tribute to The Masters Shape Off, the competition pitted legendary shapers Rawson, Abellera, Dennis Murphy, Gary Linden and last year’s winner Ricky Carroll against each. Over the two-day event, each shaper was allowed an hour and a half to make their best board. And while each of those in the shaping bay had been influenced by Brewer’s work, Linden, Abellera and Rawson had all been personally mentored by Brewer in the past.
Other events ran throughout the day as surfers and shapers shared stoke and stories. The eBay posse was out in force, taking no prisoners while gathering signatures from Rob Machado, Brad Gerlach, Joel Tudor, LJ Richards, Linda Benson and Mark Richards, the four-time world champion from Australia who sat patiently signing photos of himself for anyone wanting them.
This was so unlike the last Action Sports Retailer shows I attended, where form generally took precedence over function, and the last thing on anyone’s mind was a rising swell. Waves, or lack of them, was the big talk at Sacred Craft, and everyone seemed stoked to try something new, once the swell kicked up.
In the end it really didn’t seem to matter if your board of choice was a 12-foot King’s racer by Dave Daum, or a sub-six finless by Johnny Wegener. It was a celebration of surfboards and those who ride them. It was nice to see Brewer get recognized in a sport that he has helped move along since his guns were among the top equipment used on Oahu’s North Shore. Now, if I could just locate my Brewer mini gun from the mid-1960s. Anyone who has seen an 8’10” stringerless board with a Buddha drawn on the deck, contact me. Money is certainly an object, but as Sacred Craft bears out, certain items go beyond their cash value, even entering the realm of the sacred for some.

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