Behind the Brand: Michel Junod is in the business of client service. He understands the importance of taking the time to talk to people, to gauge their wants and needs. It's a key ingredient to his business, especially since the bulk of his boards are custom jobs. "I find that a lot of my customers are surprised that a shaper will actually talk to them about the design of their board," he says. "Everybody wants to surf better and get more out of their new board, but frequently they don't reach their potential because they aren't on the best design for the type of waves they ride. This is where my experience and my input produces a board they can take to new levels of performance and enjoyment." A shaper since 1966, Junod cofounded West Cliff Surfboards in 1970 in Santa Cruz with Chuck Strelitz. But several years later, Hawaii beckoned and Junod made his way to the North Shore. While producing boards under his own label, Michel also shaped for the Lightning Bolt, Dick Brewer, and Surfline Hawaii retail shops in Honolulu. In 1978, he left for Kauai. After a two-and-a-half year stint in Chile in the late 1980's he returned to Santa Cruz in 1990 and has been building boards under the same label ever since.
About his Most Popular Models: Junod does it all, but his specialty is working hand-in-hand with his clients to address their immediate needs. "My customers ride everything from longboard logs, to 5'10" single-fins, to tri-fins or quads, to big wave guns for Mavericks," he says. "I rely on them for feedback."
Taking the Pulse: "I think the surfing of Joel Tudor, Rob Machado, and Dave Rastovich have proven that the current 6'0" thruster is not the only valid design for modern surfing. Whether single-fin, twins, or quads, whether narrow or wide or somewhere in between, wave conditions and a surfer's desired style of surfing should dictate what one wants to ride."Shop Talk
What makes your brand unique? "The great majority of the boards I've shaped in the last 40 years have been customs. I've been blessed to live near the beach and have tested my designs in everything from 2-foot Malibu to 20-foot Waimea. I can't take credit for any design innovations, but I've always built my reputation on customer service and satisfaction. In this day of large factories and shaping machines, I think I am somewhat unique. I also draw inspiration from creative individuals and, at times, incorporate it into the brand. An example would be a beautiful Thomas Campbell designed logo on all the new models."
What's the most important quality to have in your surfboard? "Confidence is the most important quality. Here's why: A surfboard that doesn't paddle well, or doesn't respond well in a variety of wave conditions, can easily intimidate the rider and substantially decrease one's wave count. Confidence is built upon consistent performance."
If you could only have three boards, what would they be? "A 9'6" log longboard for the glide on those small days in between swells, built with high-density foam and a strong glass job. A 7'0" single-fin for big surf—my refined '70s design with modern tail curves and bottom contours. And finally, a 6'2" tri-fin fish wing-swallow for carving around on 4- to 6-foot waves at my favorite spots."