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Randy French - Head Shaper of SURFTECH

Head Shaper:

Randy French

Behind the Brand: The dialogue regarding more sophisticated materials, construction, and design is something that's caught fire in recent years. Fact is, there's no escaping it. The result is a market and an industry far more open-minded than ever before. And if any single individual deserves credit for opening up the dialogue—which is no easy feat in surfing circles—it's Randy French. French is the Santa Cruz-based shaper/inventor/designer who founded Surftech back in 1994. He'd spent more than 14 years developing new technologies for windsurf boards before deciding to give his full attention to re-engineering the contemporary surfboard. His goal was twofold: first, to create state-of-the-art, high-performance surfboards that were lighter and stronger, and more advanced than the existing technologies that had reigned supreme since WWII; and the second was to share that technology with the world's best shapers for widespread use. His first objective culminated in new "composite" technology that incorporates multiple densities of foam with epoxy resins and fiberglass using a very complex compression process that's handled at their $12 million facility. After years of steadily refining their new technology, French has won the support of many of the world's best shapers who now offer Surftech models among their broader fleet. As of today, more than 45 shapers offer a variety of Surftech models. Two of their newest partners are Hawaiian shaping legend Eric Arakawa and four-time world champion Mark Richards, who join the likes of Brewer, Bushman, Rusty, Carper, Kechele, Merrick, Patterson, Pang, Xanadu, Stretch, Wayne Lynch, and many others. With the feedback coming in from that collection, there's no telling what the limits of new technology are, but French intends to find out.

About their Most Popular Models: With more than 45 shapers, Surftech has popular models in every category: from the WCT-ready TL2 shapes from the likes of Rusty and Patterson, to hybrid and retro boards designed by Joel Tudor and MR, to step-up boards from JC and Wayne Lynch.

Taking the Pulse: "Surfers ‘on tour' simply don't have time to experiment. That's why they stick with what feels familiar. It's hard for them to break out of their ruts because it takes more than a few sessions to adapt to ‘new technology.' That's why guys like Shane Dorian are leading the way forward. He still surfs at a world tour level, but has the time to work and improve new designs. He's been riding JC's TL2s for the past three years, and he understands how these technologies—done right—paddle faster, can be ridden shorter, and produce more speed."

Shop Talk

What's the most challenging aspect for consumers and designers to grasp with "new technology" boards? "Shapers design boards around a particular flex pattern. Because new board technologies offer different patterns, the challenge was educating our shapers about them first, their riders second, and ultimately the end user. TL2, for example, will have a different flex pattern than Tuflite. We can modify elements of each board to make them all feel familiar, while adding performance and durability."