Behind the Brand: Xanadu started his shaping career at the age of 15 while growing up in Brazil. "I picked up my first custom surfboard as a kid and quickly realized the shaper did not understand what I wanted," he says. "I wondered: ‘Why should I try to explain to someone what I want?' I could see the shape in my head, so I decided to do it myself. It was very rewarding to be able to bring those visions to life." After relocating to the US, Xanadu founded his label in San Diego in 1989. In the years that followed, as his brand grew, he worked with some of the best surfers in the world, receiving orders from large chunks of the ASP World Tour. Lately, Xanadu has been working closely with team riders like Brian Conley, Koa Smith, and Tonino Benson to develop a wide variety of surf craft—designs that will work in everything from knee-high slop to heaving tubes. "Brian Conley and I have been working together on some new step-off boards," he says. "Sometimes, Brian will step off a PWC and rolls into waves instead of towing. The boards are sort of a hybrid between a standard board and a tow board. He's been riding them in 20 foot surf in Mexico and he loves them."
About his Most Popular Models: "My most popular models are the Pig 2," says Xanadu, "which is a small wave board. The X21 is popular as well. It's designed for 4-to-7 foot waves. Most of my top guys are riding high performance models like the X21 and the 16C."
Taking the Pulse: "When it comes to new models, nothing takes the place of hand shaping, being able to feel every little curve and bump as the shape is formed. However, from a production standpoint and for board replication, the computer shaping element is very exciting."Shop Talk
What's the most important thing to consider when ordering a board? "If it's a custom board, it's important to communicate key info. This includes: How long you've been surfing, your age, your height and weight, where you surf and what types of waves. The shaper can help you determine what type of board will work best, based on this info. A great bit of technology that can help is to put video of yourself surfing on YouTube and have the shaper watch it. He can learn a ton by seeing you surf."
What's the best part of being in the board building business right now? The best part is the public's openness to all kinds of designs. There was a time not so long ago when most shapers, including myself, were only getting orders for standard, high performance shortboards and not much else. These days, though, everyone is riding everything! MR Twins, Quads, Longboards…I just love the variety. It's fun to be able to recognize the benefits of designs from the past while still pushing hard to make the most high performance boards possible.
What makes your brand unique? For me, it has always been about the art and the performance. Marketing is important and commercial success can keep the bills paid, but I have always most valued how that board is working for that surfer. If a team rider or customer is doing their best surfing on my boards, I am just as stoked as they are!