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Rusty Preisendorfer - Head Shaper of Rusty Surfboards

Head Shaper:

Rusty Preisendorfer

Behind the Brand: Believe it or not, there was a time when Californians were non-existent on the global stage. During the West Coast's decade-long nap in the '70s, the powerbrokers of design and performance presided in Hawaii and Australia after the Free Ride generation took over. Such circumstances never sat well with San Diego's Rusty Preisendorfer, who started shaping in 1969. During the '70s, he launched labels like Starlight and Music when he wasn't shaping for G&S. But as the fledgling pro tour was taking shape in the late '70s, Rusty went to work for John Durward at Canyon Surboards, where his pivotal role in history began. Rusty ignored "locals only" orthodoxy and struck up working relationships with the new wave of international stars, including world champs like Peter Townend, Rabbit Bartholomew, and Shaun Tomson. As Californians yearned to emerge from the stagnant '70s, they warmed to the bright, new, international style of aggressive small-wave performance surfing taking over the magazines. Rusty placed himself directly in the center of it all. A young Mark Occhilupo provided the tipping point in 1984, as he threatened Tom Curren. By the time Preisendorfer launched Rusty Surfboards in 1985 he was already providing boards for more than half of the Top 16. His penchant for "precision designs" is something he absorbed from his father, a math professor, but his international team riders called it "German engineering." Today, after nearly three decades of providing boards for countless numbers of world's best surfers, Rusty, more than any other shaper, is recognized as the man who put California designers back in a position of power. The surfers merely followed his lead. Naturally, Rusty's factory remains one of the most influential design hubs in the world.

About his Most Popular Models: Rusty and his stable of renowned shapers specialize in every design imaginable—from tow boards and guns, to longboards, hybrids, and high-performance thrusters and quads. "But our Piranha is our most popular model, which is our fish designed for average surf."

Taking the Pulse: "With CAD design you become more intimate with all your numbers and it teaches you to see the board in many different ways. The computer is fantastic for visualizing a design, just as you would in your mind, but in much greater detail and it's all translatable into a cut blank."

Shop Talk

What's more likely to lead to the next big breakthrough: materials or design? "Design will change because of materials. I still maintain it will be composites that will offer the best of both worlds: flex and durability. Flex is a generic term for elasticity. But quality flex can only come from something with a high coefficient of restitution (COR). Golf club manufacturers figured this out when they began making thin-faced drivers with a so-called ‘trampoline effect,' an extra bounce off the clubface, like a super ball. Imagine a surfboard that launches twice as far out of a turn than your garden variety World War II tech board."