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Ricky Carroll - Head Shaper of R & D Surf

Head Shaper:

Ricky Carroll

Behind the Brand: Based in Rockledge, FL, R&D Surf was launched in 1992. Its head shaper, Ricky Carroll, designed and glassed his first surfboard in 1973 when he was 13 years old, and continued to build boards as a hobby while he worked as an auto mechanic. “I started shaping boards out of necessity,” says Carroll. “I didn’t have the money to buy a new board, so I found a broken longboard and shaped myself a 4'8" twin-fin and glassed it in my mom’s patio.” In 1978, Carroll began doing ding repair for Natural Art Surfboards, where he refined his talents as a craftsman. He worked on his skills in every aspect of board manufacturing during that era, eventually shaping boards for Sea Shapes, Pro Shapes, Natural Art, and Local Motion. Fourteen years later, he launched R&D, where today, in addition to building their own line of boards under the label RC, they also manufacture boards for other brands such as Local Motion, Donald Takayama, Velzy, Pat Rawson, Surfboards Hawaii, and Chris Birch. Currently, R&D Surf is the largest surfboard-glassing factory on the East Coast of the U.S. “The key component of R&D Surf is the fact that we manufacture different brands and offer boards built in polyester or epoxy construction,” says Carroll, who was the winner of the Reef Board Build-Off competition, taking the title two years in a row at the Tribute to the Masters Shape-Off in California. “We’re not afraid to try something new or different. I like to consider myself a versatile shaper—and someone who’s open-minded when it comes to new designs.”

About R&D'S Most Popular Models: “My most popular shortboard is what I call a Rocketfish,” says Carroll. “It combines a wider outline with performance rocker and rails that work great in a lot of different conditions. The most popular mid-range board is the Mini Me, which is a mini longboard that has the wave-catching ability of a longboard and the responsive feel of a shorter board. The most popular longboard is my performance model, with chined rails and a double-concave bottom. It works well in small surf to overhead waves.”

Shop Talk: “I try to be available to talk to customers and do lots of custom boards, as opposed to being a shaper who just has a name that a brand is built around.”

SHAPER Q & A

Tell us about the changes you’ve seen in recent years in the shaping realm, and how it has affected your craft. “I see a more open-minded approach to trying something different or new today. But a lot of the stuff we’re seeing that’s ‘new’ is really a combination of an old design with modern upgrades, such as rocker and rail shapes. But I like that. I like the willingness in surfers to try an innovative design. It makes my job as a shaper more challenging and creative.”

What project are you and your customers having the most fun with at the moment? “I’m doing a lot more convertible boards with the fin setups. Tri-fins to quads, and quad or two-plus-one longboards. This makes one board more versatile, so it can cover a wider range of surf conditions. Also, with the economy the way it is, consumers are buying fewer boards. So why not build one board that does more for them?”