Behind the Brand: Jeff Battisti has been a surf rat since the '70s—it's how he got his label's name. "I got the nickname in 1978," he says. "I was rolling into class late, with wet hair, just being a grom, and another student yelled out, ‘He looks like a rat!' From then on, everyone called me Rat. It stuck." Battisti, who operates a homegrown business in the heart of Encinitas, California, learned the skills to ply his trade from his father. Interestingly, though, his dad didn't build surfboards—he just built everything else. "Pops Battisti built custom homes," says Rat, "bridges, sailboats, tons of other things. He can build anything. My skill came from him. He designed sailboats and I helped him out. He helped give me the skills I needed to properly use tools and after that, it was just practicing—shaping boards and testing them, giving them to my bros. That was the point when Rat Surfboards was born."
About his Most Popular Models: "Most of my top guys are riding Speed Monkeys, King Pins, and Rat Rockets because of their performance, speed, and maneuverability. Everyone loves them—they're always smiling after a session on one these boards and I personally test each model. Right now, overall, the Speed Monkey is on top, it's my most popular."
Taking the Pulse: "I was a finish carpenter and I love working with my hands," says Battisti. "Shaping boards just came naturally to me, and to be able to do what I love and make a decent living from it made it all the better. Surfing is a big part of my life—it's an everyday thing." Battisti has been shaping for 15 years and sets himself apart by working to develop old school feeling with new school shapes. His philosophy is all about having a healthy lifestyle, making it work, and keeping it simple.Shop Talk
What makes your brand unique? "I'm a shaper who surfs, surfs everyday in all kinds of conditions, and loves what I do—that's what makes Rat Surfboards unique. Plus, my clients get all my custom boards in three weeks—not three months."
What trends would you like to see go away? "China boards need to go away, and paddle boards are just a nuisance in the water."
What's the most exciting thing about surfboard technology right now? "It's cool that there're all different shapes of boards to choose from and that, in the last few years, they've all really been really dialed to perform at their peak."
What's the best part of being in the board building business? "It's all about having fun and putting a smile on the groms faces."