SURFER's Complete Guide To Your Next Board




Chris Christenson - Head Shaper of Christenson Surfboards

Head Shaper:

Chris Christenson

Behind the Brand: While Dick Brewer's transformational achievements in board design made an impression on most of the world's most notable shapers, the list of those who were actually mentored by the man is relatively short: Gerry Lopez, Reno Abellira, Mark Richards, and Terry Fitzgerald represent a few of his better pupils. Chris Christenson happens to be another. Christenson began shaping while attending college at Point Loma in San Diego, where he eventually took a job working in Rich Pavel's factory. That's where he met Brewer, who's arguably the most influential shaper ever. Christenson's tireless work ethic and his ability to translate lessons learned into gorgeous silhouettes impressed Brewer, so after graduating, Christenson ended up working with him for five years. At one point, he even took control of Brewer's licensee while still doing production shaping for labels like Rusty and G&S. All the while, Christenson had his own label that he started in Cardiff in 1991. Today, he's well-versed in an array of designs, including longboards and fishes, but it's his big-wave boards that have stolen headlines of late. Greg Long dominated the big-wave circuit in 2008 riding his 9' and 10' Christenson guns. These days, very few young shapers (anyone 35 or under is considered young in the shaping circles) have direct links to the greatest generation of designers, which is what makes him one of the most respected craftsmen today.

About his Most Popular Models: Christenson's 9' to 10' range of guns are sought after by big-wave hellmen who push themselves over ledges from time to time, including Greg Long, Mike Parsons, Brad Gerlach, and Hawaiian Mark Healey. Christenson has a wide variety of alternative crafts, including his Twin Keel Fish for stylish ripping and high-speed trimming, and his popular Glider model longboard, which rides as elegantly as it looks.

Taking the Pulse:"I'm not into regressive retro. I approach my logs as if the '60s never stopped. I want my short boards to be faster and looser; I want my Keel Fin Fish to out-perform thrusters and my guns to be able to get into waves that only the tow-in guys are getting into."

Shop Talk

We know Brewer had an influence on you, but who else? "Brewer was huge for overall profiles. Mike Diffenderfer is my all-time favorite, and I've had several people tell me they can see the ‘Diff' influence in my shapes. I was only able to meet him once and it was a very special moment for me. I'd say Skip Frye for his high level of craftsmanship and originality. Timmy Patterson for his work ethic and consistent quality. Tyler Hatzikian for his high level of quality building a board from start to finish."

Where do you stand on new materials? "I'm not opposed to alternative materials—especially if they can be more green. But right now my best boards are built with polyester resins and polyurethane blanks."