Behind the Brand: Though he's been shaping for more than 30 years, John Carper didn't start his own label until 1995. Until then he was the secret weapon behind several world famous brands like Surfboards Hawaii, Lightning Bolt, Rusty, and Hawaiian Island Creations, where he worked as a tireless production shaper. His list of early shaping influences is long, starting with the likes of Greg Noll ("He was my neighbor when I was a little kid in Hermosa Beach"), Dick Brewer, Ben Aipa, and Rick Irons Sr. During his time as a production shaper, he established solid relationships with many of the world's best pros. Carper still spends a lot of time traveling to ASP events (not to mention amateur events as well), where he's earned a reputation as one of the world's premier shapers. Though Carper's hand-shaping skills rival anyone's, he's been on the cutting edge of new shaping technologies, including the new 3D CAD. Today Carper has two factories: the first in Haleiwa, Hawaii, and the other in Newport Beach, California. His list of loyal riders includes Shane Dorian, Peter Mel, Sean Moody, Jesse Hines, Brett Barley, Frank Walsh, Cheyne Cottrell, and Josh Hoyer.
About his Most Popular Models: Carper's most popular models are his contemporary high-performance designs, like the SD-3 and new MP-B. "But our Retro-Rocket is getting a serious boost from the rave reviews by Shane Dorian and Jesse Hines," he says. "And we've redesigned our Torpedo, which is a cross between a fish and a full-performance board."
Taking the Pulse: "Everyone is sick of fads and suspicious of ‘new' technology that really isn't new at all. They simply want a good board that they can trust. Most of my top guys are riding Polyester/Polyurethane, TL-2s, and custom Epoxy /EPS."Shop Talk
What's the most exciting thing about shaping technology right now? "The great computer programs that help designers explore the possibilities and totally refine ideas. Once a shaper has mastered a program—and that ain't easy—it actually becomes fun to design. We will never be able to go back. We now "engineer" boards. The trick is to put the "feel" into the program. I still gotta spend a lot of time in the shaping room, getting dusty, which is actually the place I am happiest, besides out in the water."
What pet project are you and your team having the most fun with? "Combining some composite technology (like a TL-2 blank) with the new refined polyester resins. I also have some new digital tools that really help me design and place the concaves for a desired effect, lending some of the fantastic design elements from the past with the latest state-of-the-art concepts presently being ridden. Our Retro-Rocket and Manta Ray are perfect examples. We take the beak nose and flat decks of the early '80s and blend them with contemporary bottom contours and rockers. The result is really catching on as all my pros love them."