Retrofitting

Ellis Ericson on adapting throwback designs for modern quivers

1) 5’7″ × 19¼” × 2½”
2) 6’4″ × 19″ × 2¾”
3) 6’4″ × 19¼” × 2½”
4) 7’10″ × 19¼” × 3″
5) 5’11″ × 18¾” × 2½”
The odds are pretty slim that you’ve seen a Sunflower surfboard at your home break. That’s because Ellis Ericson doesn’t have a factory, a distribution deal, or even a regular shaping bay. “I’ve been trying to travel the way that a lot of surfers used to, where you shape a few boards wherever you can along the way to help fund your trip,” says Ellis. “Sometimes people hit me up looking for a board, and I just shape it when I get to their part of the world in whatever shaping bay I can use. It’s been fun. It gives me something to do when the waves are bad.”

When he’s not making boards on order, Ellis is busy refining his own quiver, which mixes design elements from bygone eras with a fair amount of improvisation. “I’ve shaped my Hawaii quivers for the last three years,” he says. “But it’s so hard to make proper boards for those waves. The Hawaiian shapers have it down with the curve that they put in their boards, but I’m still figuring it out. I’m honestly not sure if my Hawaii boards are getting better or worse, but it’s still a good time experimenting.”
—Todd Prodanovich

1) 5’7″ × 19¼” × 2½”
“I’ve been trying to work with this twin-fin setup. It’s generally one of the fastest fin setups you can have, but I’ve been trying to calm it down and get a little more control with that stabilizer fin. I was talking to Neal Purchase Jr. a lot about twin-fins because he makes a really good board called the Quartet, which is basically like an MR twin with tiny little quad trailers. He rips on them. I’m not great at riding them because I grew up on a thruster, relying on that center pivot point, so I’ve been trying to make a three-fin version of the twin-fin. It’s getting there. It still feels a little tracky and squirrely from time to time, but it’s so fast down the line. You can’t beat that twin-fin glide down the line.”

2) 6’4″ × 19″ × 2¾”
“I don’t even know what I was thinking with this one. I wanted to put some volume under my chest when making this knockoff of Dave Parmenter’s Widowmaker. I’ve seen a couple of these boards, and I was lucky enough to use a template at Andrew Kidman’s house. It’s pretty fresh, I’ve only had a couple of rides on it and I’m still getting it worked out. And then there’s the flex fin, which is sick because you can really load your weight onto that fin and it projects you down the line. I was frothing so hard on the Bonzer I was riding when I decided to shape this one, so I think my main goal was just to make a kind of three-fin Bonzer.”

3) 6’4″ × 19¼” × 2½”
“This is the Bonzer I was talking about. I didn’t shape this one, but it’s pretty much been my favorite board for the past year and I think about it a lot in the shaping bay. I’d never really gotten into Bonzers, but I knew that I had to try one, so I looked on Craigslist while I was in California and found one for a hundred bucks. I took it over to Indo and surfed Deserts and Keramas on it, and it was magic. I was just shocked. It has that ’80s feel and definitely that ’80s tan. But I buckled it in Indo and gave it to the Bali repair guys, and they’re pretty notorious for altering boards mid-repair. They laid the resin on really thick and it rides totally different now. The Indonesians really fucked with the Campbell brothers’ theorem.”

4) 7’10″ × 19¼” × 3″
“I made this to ride Sunset because I was out there last year and Joel Tudor saw me and said, ‘Dude, why are you riding such a small board?’ And I was like, ‘It’s a 7’2″! That’s plenty big, right?’ He laughed and told me that you should ride an 8-foot board at minimum at Sunset. But I was in Indo afterward and could only get this 7’10″ banana-rocker mini-mal blank. I had to flatten it all out to get that ’70s-style entry rocker, but it turned out to be pretty fun. I’ve actually ridden this in small waves more than in big waves because Sunset hasn’t really done its thing yet, and I’m no big-wave hellman to begin with. It will be interesting when Sunset turns on, for sure, because it’s about 3″ thick and I definitely can’t duckdive it. I guess I’ll just be bailing. I asked the glassers in Indo for no leash plug, so as a joke they put in two.”

5) 5’11″ × 18¾” × 2½”
“The true inspiration for this one was actually a photo I saw on Mikala Jones’ Instagram of a Curren 5’0″ four-channel that he has at his house. It looked so awesome. I just really love the four-channel thrusters, and I love what Curren was doing with his bottom turns when he was riding those, so I decided to try to replicate that. I know nothing about that actual board, really. I haven’t held it or even seen it in person, so I was just going off that tiny photo on Instagram and the few other photos I could find of that shape.”


WATCH: ELLIS ERICSON ON THESE CUSTOM CRAFTS

  • Jimmy the Saint

    I’m confused, what shaper worth his salt would have one of his favorite boards repaired – the bonzer – by guys he doesn’t know, on an island supposingly infamous for board repair, rather than fix it himself?

    • stevo

      Away on a surf trip, wants to spend time in the water?

      • Jimmy the Saint

        Yeah, that might explain it I suppose!