Inside the Biggest Board Meeting of the Year

Matt Rott

by on

Updated 41d ago

When Scott Bass came up with the idea for the Boardroom Show (formerly known as the Sacred Craft festival), one has to wonder if he ever imagined it would become such a successful event. We surfers have always had a distinct obsession with the boards that we ride, but to see the crowds and stoke at the Del Mar Fairgrounds this past weekend—both behind the booths and wandering the aisles—you’d almost think that mind-surfing was the new actual surfing.

The Boardroom event ran for two days over the weekend, with hundreds of presenters and thousands of attendees. And it was hard to tell who had more fun. While surfboard enthusiasts ran their hands along rails and had the chance to talk with their favourite shapers and athletes, the shapers and athletes themselves enjoyed what was essentially a two-day board meeting of the bros—catching up with friends they hadn’t seen in years, swapping stories and sneaking sideways glances at each other’s latest designs.

Album Surfboards and Chris Burkard co-lab comes up shining. If you hadn't been told you'd know which social feed provided the inspiration.

Album Surfboards and Chris Burkard co-lab comes up shining. If you hadn't been told you'd know which social feed provided the inspiration.

© 2017 - Paul "Ryan" Malixi

The Campbell brothers were there, chatting about their new collaboration with Channel Islands, which now has a Bonzer model. Danny Hess had his wooden boards on display, as did big wave legend and renowned shaper Gary Linden, who had brought along a few boards shaped out of agave. There was an art-infused collaboration from Album Surfboards and Chris Burkard, a quiver of hi-fi fish decked out in sacred geometry prints from Gary McNeill, retro designs by the likes of Gerry Lopez, Rich Pavel, and Ryan Lovelace, and the latest in modern high-performance surfboards from some of the biggest names in shaping.

Meanwhile, Rob Machado was posted up next to fellow surfer/shaper Tomo, while across the aisle foam companies were displaying the latest in eco-friendly board building materials. And for those who were craving another level of technological progression, Chris Christensen and Greg Long had an experimental carbon fibre gun on display that featured a bulbous aerodynamic nose inspired by a some aerospace guy who had gotten tired of watching surfers get blown out the back during the Jaws contest.

Daniel 'Tomo' Thomson doesn't abide by conventional rules of surfboard design. The result? Well look who rides them...

Daniel 'Tomo' Thomson doesn't abide by conventional rules of surfboard design. The result? Well look who rides them...

© 2017 - Paul "Ryan" Malixi

But the Boardroom event wasn't just about ogling well-shaped foam. The main stage featured presentations by Icon of Foam honuoree Al Merrick and a number of his riders from over the years, including Lisa Anderson and Taylor Knox, and a shaping contest (won by Rex Marechal) saw board builders attempting to recreate a board Merrick shaped for Kelly Slater back in the 1990s, with only the most basic of measuring tools allowed.

Gary Linden, shaper and big wave godfather talking agave construction with Ben Freeston.

Gary Linden, shaper and big wave godfather talking agave construction with Ben Freeston.

© 2017 - Paul "Ryan" Malixi

Best of all, most of the boards on display were also available to purchase—and for the connoisseur of fine surf craft, there’s nothing more exciting (or more dangerous to the bank account) than a warehouse full of boards for sale. So while the somewhat gloomy weekend might have been spent mostly indoors, you can be sure that when the rain cleared on Monday and the lineups in and around San Diego were groomed clean by a much needed offshore wind, there were as many shiny new slabs of glass in the water as there were glassy waves. And as far as shapers are concerned, there’s nothing prettier than that.

Some boards are almost too aesthetically pleasing to wax.

Some boards are almost too aesthetically pleasing to wax.

© 2017 - Paul "Ryan" Malixi

Lead image, on display by: Sometimes Ryan


Matt Rott

Follow our man with the Golden Ticket