Behind the Brand: Patagonia is a brand known for its thoughtful approach to manufacturing, and Fletcher Chouinard is the man behind the mask in their surfboard division. A shaper since 1994, Chouinard learned the craft under the tutelage of Steve Walden and Dave Parmenter before he opened his own operation in the '90s. "I basically became a shaper because I wanted to have a quiver for cheap," he says with a laugh. An epoxy proponent, Chouinard has been working exclusively with the material since 1997 to make "tough, light, fast boards that hold up after a lot of sessions. They're stronger, so you don't have to take as many boards with you on trips, plus they have better flotation and longer-lasting snappy flex than PU." Working closely with team riders Chris, Keith, and Dan Malloy, Chouinard has been experimenting with fin configurations and a variety of models designed to work in all conditions.
About his Most Popular Models: "A lot of the really good surfers I work with are riding the DM3 (Dan Malloy) model or Fishes," says Chouinard. "The DM3, which is a low rocker, swallow-tail, high-performance shortboard, is designed for knee-high to double-overhead surf. Basically, it works in anything but death slabs."
Taking the Pulse: "With the economy stinking and the price of oil where it is, maybe some of the overseas players will get out of the game. We need to get back to making our surfboards here in the U.S. They should be built by real shapers and surfers, regardless of method."Shop Talk
What project are your customers having the most fun with? "Quads are making a big difference in a lot of people's surfing right now. I've been re-stoking some people by putting four fins on stock models that are usually thrusters, and it's really increasing speed and verticality."
If you only had three boards, which ones would you choose? "I would have a 5'11"Quark quad for everyday surf—and if I had to pick just one board, this would be it. Then I'd have a 6'4" KMRP for good, juicy surf, and a 7'6" RP for bigger days on the Central Coast during winter."