Legendary surfboard shaper Allan Byrne has been waiting his whole life for a show like this one. “They had to kick us out of here last night,” he said Sunday morning, after refusing to leave the Sacred Craft Consumer Board Expo on Saturday afternoon. “I’ve never really felt like hanging out at a trade show before, but I didn’t want to leave this one.” Byrne, who’s regarded by many of his peers as the best channel-bottom shaper in the world, came all the way from Australia to take part in this, the second annual major gathering of surfboard shapers and hard goods suppliers.
“The motivation for this thing is pretty simple,” says Scott Bass, the show’s founder. “Most real surfers can’t tell you what kind of trunks Nat Young was wearing during the World Contest in 1966, but they could easily tell you the name of his board. You know why? Because the only thing that really matters in this sport is what you’re riding, not what you’re wearing.” Indeed, most of the people strolling the aisles of this show, which featured more than 90 hard goods suppliers—from boards and blanks to specialty items like repair kits and paddles—were hardcore surfers, which is why they know Nat Young’s board was dubbed Magic Sam.
“It’s just great to see so many like-minded people in one place,” says Byrne, who was catching up with long lost friends as he roamed the halls. No matter where you turned, you were bound to bump into a legendary craftsman. In less than 10 minutes of speaking with Byrne near the entrance to the show, Greg Noll, Rusty Preisendorfer, the Campbell brothers, Carl Ekstrom, Larry Mabile, Gary Linden, Matt Biolos, Pat Rawson, Chris Christenson, and Gerry Lopez all walked by.
The show included seminars on all things board related, shaping demos, and even a shape-off in honor of the late Bill Caster, a legendary shaper from the San Diego area. Since most surf industry trade shows are fashion centered, small label shapers and hard goods suppliers have very little incentive to bother with them, and thus, very few venues to gather together to talk shop. The Sacred Craft show, by contrast, honors the work of those who actually create the fun. “The reason this is so great is it feels like somebody finally cares about us,” says Byrne, who summed it up best for all involved.
“This year’s show was twice as big as last year’s,” says Bass, “so we know there’s a need for people to get together to talk shop. And anybody who knows shapers knows they love to talk about surfboards, which is why we had such a tough time getting everybody to leave last night. That says a lot.”