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Icons of Foam Tribute to Ben Aipa Chunk of Foam Challenge

The 2014 Boardroom Show was held in Del Mar on May 17th & 18th. The world’s largest consumer surfboard show, The Boardroom Show is open to the public and offers attendees a rare opportunity to interface with some of surfing’s most influential board builders.

The show centered around two shaping competitions, the Icons of Foam Tribute and the Chunk of Foam Challenge. Both competitions task competitors to replicate a specific surfboard that marks a historic design innovation in surfing.

Honoring Ben Aipa and his pivotal “Sting” design, introduced in 1974 on Oahu’s South Shore, six contestants competed to recreate the board Buttons made famous in his portrait by Jeff Divine at Velzyland. The contestants were Roger Hinds, Cordell Miller, Axel Lorentz, Davey Smith, Skye Richard, and returning champion Matt Calvani.

Ben Aipa, his son Duke, and Terry Senate served as judges to determine the winner. The entire experience took place in a fish-bowl styled shaping bay which gives attendees full view of the shaping process.

"It dawned on me one day that Swallows are among the fastest turning birds and that they have a very dramatic tail shape. It seemed like a logical conclusion to incorporate that into a surfboard design. The first one I made, I broke the tail off because it's a lot less foam than I normally worked with." BEN AIPA

Cordell Miller finds the outline within the 8'5"A "The idea for the wing in the outline came when I was watching hydrofoil boat races. I realized that the abrupt disturbance in the outline would allowa surfer to turn more sharply. The width in the nose allows more speed and planing surface, but the narrow tail and the addition of the wing allows for release; almost a pivot point during a turn." BEN AIPA

"The 'Sting' board design shifted the focus of surfing. It went from being a big wave focus in Hawaii, with the boards of Dick Brewer and Tom Parrish, to being a high-performance focus on the South Shore with surfers like Buttons, Larry Bertleman, and Mark Liddell." "The wide,forward portion of the board made it fast and gave it glide, but the wing made the tail much narrower so it allowed the board more maneuverability." MATT CALVANI

"With the ease that modern technology provides for shaping surfboards, events like this are important to remind myself and the upcoming generation to always have reverence for using hand tools. This experience was a great reminder of how much thought and detail went into every contour of each surfboard along the design evolution process." DAVEY SMITH

Ben Aipa, along with his son Duke, and Terry Senate judged the event.

"I went to Hawaii in the early 70s and it was like a light went on. The surfers riding the 'Sting' were turning inside the tube. Everyone else was driving straight towards the end of the barrel. Buttons, Bert and Liddell were snapping under the lip and then weaving through the tube. It was really revolutionary. And Ben was bigger than life, especially in the water. We surfed Sunset quite a bit. He's always been such a gentlemen and a great craftsman." ROGER HINDS

Peter Townend and Ben Aipa

Matthew Barker, Carl Ekstrom, and Craig Stecyk III

Josh Hall, Skip Frye, Matt Biolos, Chris Christenson, and Stu Kenson

The Chunk of Foam Challenge focused on …Lost Surfboard’s Round Nose Fish Classic 5’5” x 19 ¼” designed by Matt “Mayhem” Biolos in the early 1990s. The event is designed to recreate the challenges of old-school board building, where a surfboard was carved from a single piece of wood, with limited shaping tools. In this reimagining, contestants are forced to rely on fundamental shaping skills to find a surfboard within a chunk of foam, without the help of templates nor measuring devices. They have limited access to tools, only 90 seconds to touch the reference board, and a strict 3 hour limit to shape the board.

The four contestants were Mike Estrada, Kelly Connolly, Chris Christenson, and Hank Warner. Matt Biolos and Cory Lopez served as judges to determine which finished board most closely resembled the board Cory originally rode in the mid 90s.

"It was the fall of '94. Chris Ward called me from the North Shore and said Tom Curren was riding something called a 'Fish'. It was a Tommy Peterson 'Fireball Fish'. I had seen Curren ride a 'Lis Fish' in 1 foot waves in New York, so I was aware of that type of board design, but Chris was the one who tapped into the potential immediately."

"I went to a couple restaurants that displayed old surfboards, just to see what a Fish looked like up close. With an MR twin-fin in mind, I shaped a wide twin-fin with a rounded, slightly pointy nose and pulled in swallow-tail. I gave it to Chris on the North Shore. Cory Lopez saw Chris ripping on it so he ordered a couple. They loved how easy the boards paddled, because of the wide planning surface under your front foot. But I think that I was lucky to incorporate the MR element of a narrow tail. Even though the board was wide in the nose, the tail was similar to a shortboard. You had the ability to maneuver easily and push really hard through turns, but with the speed and stability of a 'Fish'." MATT BIOLOS

"I've been shaping for 25 years and this really tested my ability. Without the help of my normal set of tools, I really had to reevaluate each little decision. Usually I'm working with my custom rockers and I can shape a shortboard in an hour, but trying to find the right outline and rocker without any templates or measuring required a lot of focus." MIKE ESTRADA

"I came here 3 years ago and remember thinking to myself, 'I want to be in that shaping booth one day', so I was shocked when Scott Bass invited me to participate. I'm really honored to be the first female participant in the Chunk of Foam Challenge.." "I was very young when the cultural revolution surrounding the Round Nose Fish took place, so preparation for this event was challenging. I'm sure some of these other shapers have ridden this board, or perhaps even shaped something similar. This experience has been a real eye-opener for how to incorporate multiple design elements into one shape. It's changed the way I will shape boards forevermore." KELLY CONNOLLY

"In 1994, I ordered a 'Fish' from Skip Frye and then the 5'5" x 19 1/4" movie came out and it really opened my eyes to how differently that board could be ridden. I realized that modern adjustments could be made to old-school designs that would allow it to work in everything from J-Bay to Waimea shorebreak to T-Street. I began rounding the noses of my shapes and building some twin-fins. Everything that we're seeing today. Kelly Slater riding five-fins and shorter boards at Pipeline, it all started there. It's a timeless design. The fact that . . . Lost is still selling the RNF 20 years later says a lot of about how progressive that design was, and still is." CHRIS CHRISTENSON

"Matt Biolos recently ordered a board from me and I've been debating what board I should order from him, but this experience solidified it for me. I'll be getting my first Classic RNF 5'5" x 19 1/4." CHRIS CHRISTENSON

"The reason why I wanted to participate in this experience is because I think it's important to celebrate our history of hand shaping. In a world where processes are increasingly automated, it's great to see guys doing good old fashioned manual labor. There is nothing magical about it and I don't think of myself as a gifted craftsman. I'm just a laborer. My goal is to translate my customers' needs by carving away some foam, simple as that." HANK WARNER

Cory Lopez & Matt Biolos judged which board most closely resembled the board Cory originally rode in the mid-90s.

The Boardroom Show Director Scott Bass recaps the event for PT.

Thank you to everyone who attended The Boardroom Show. We look forward to seeing you again next year.

The Boardroom Show by US Blanks  

The Icons of Foam Tribute to Ben Aipa & Chunk of Foam Challenge. Featuring interviews with Ben Aipa, Matt Biolos, Roger Hinds, Chris Christe...

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