Behind the Brand: Mike Estrada grew up in Newport Beach, California, where he and his brother Dave were hot local standouts in the middle of Newport's '80s heyday. Estrada had an impressive amateur career that included NSSA and AAU titles. The tall, lanky goofy-footer continues to dominate in the Master's divisions and remains a fixture in Newport lineups. His foray into shaping began when he was a freshman in high school, when he stripped the glass off of a 5'5" twin-fin and reshaped it into a 4'11" single. "I even airbrushed it and glassed it," he recalls. The deep sense of satisfaction that came with riding something he made added to the thrill. "After that, I was hooked." At first he shaped for himself and a few friends. But after his cousin, Sean Magyar of Haun Surfboards, started shaping consistently in 1989, Estrada was inspired to do the same. He opened his first surfboard manufacturing facility in Costa Mesa in 1990. "I learned a lot from watching Lance Collins shape my boards when I rode for Wave Tools," he says. "But I've also learned from guys like Ben Aipa of Town & Country and Australian Bill Cilia of Nirvana Surfboards." As a testament to his credentials, Estrada earned the right to be the West Coast licensee and shaper for Town & Country Surfboards, one of the most prominent names in shaping.
About his Most Popular Models: Estrada's bread and butter designs are his Performance Shortboard, his Big Guy Tri, and his Retro Twist, which is designed for riding all types of waves. "Quads are another big trend that have a place in the surfboard quiver," he says. "By experimenting with fin size and placement, I have kept the speed and maneuverability quads are known for, but with added drive."
Taking the Pulse: "The variety of construction out there is helping to push the limits of performance surfing, whether you surf a longboard, shortboard, or a fish. If closed-minded people went away, the future of design would be much better."Shop Talk
What are your team riders riding most of the time? "Both PU and epoxy boards. Most of my shortboards are single concaves or single-to-double concave on the bottom, with lower volume and boxy rails. Tail shapes are pretty diverse, with round-pins, squash, diamond, and swallows. I've been working closely with Chris Waring (finalist at this year's Cold Water Classic) since he was 10 years old. He travels extensively and is pretty hard on his boards. We are finding that the new polyurethane blanks, as well as EPS/Epoxy boards, are holding up well under his feet. I feel epoxy boards are here to stay. Because of their strength-to-weight ratio, they are more durable than traditional polyester boards."
What element of design is the most vital to a board working? "At the end of the day, having the right rocker is probably the most important quality. In our performance shortboards, the rocker and concave work together to achieve speed and maneuverability."
Predictions for 2009? "I don't think we'll see any dramatic shifts, but I do think we'll see a lot more interest in custom orders. It's already happening."