Aloha everyone and welcome to the third episode of The Temple of Surf – The Podcast.
I would like to thank the hundreds of you that supported us already, it is amazing!
Today’s guest is the legendary Craig Hollingsworth! He has been shaping surfboards since 1973, born and raised in Southern California, and a world-class surfer himself.
Craig has traveled the world over perfecting his designs. With his long-time experience and hands-on-approach to testing surfboard performance, Hollingsworth is one of the most versatile shapers in the world today
Here the interview transcribed…. we highly suggest to listen to it 🙂
Recorded in May 2020.
Hi Craig, and welcome to the show. Where are you today?
I’m in Encinitas, California.
How’s it going over there in this time of corona virus?
It’s actually going pretty good.
It hasn’t really affected me at all.
I, I shape at home and I’ve been very busy the whole time…..everything’s been going good.
Very busy with the lightning bolts and the Hanson. Now they opened the beach so we can surf, which is good, and the surf shops just opened on Friday….. so things are starting to move around.
Not every business has opened, but many are, you know, some people here in California are just kind of tired of this virus-thing.
It hasn’t really hit here really hard, like it has an Italy or New York, for instance….. there are 3.3 million people in San Diego County and there’s been like, I think, 190 deaths.
And personally, I haven’t known one person that has died from it or one person that he that even had the virus, maybe my daughter had it over the Christmas holiday, like between Christmas and new Year…..she had a big, bad virus for about five days, but that’d be before we heard of the Corona
Things are starting to pick up around here. As far as movement, people are starting to leave their homes and traffic started to pick up and all that.
Today we are going to talk about surf, surfboards, shaping, and much more.
First question that I have for you is what, in your opinion, is the most important thing in surfing?
Pretty simple, isn’t it? You got to have a wave and you gotta have a surfboard. And then after that, you know, everything else is butter on the toast. You just, you know, dude or a wetsuit.
Like as simple as it is,but most efficient.
How did that all started your career? As a shaper?
I started when I was pretty young, actually making plywood pipe in my garage when I was in junior high school.
I was, you know, a youngster and not having a lot of monies and as surfboards are not cheap…..I started having people like Donald Takayama would shape my personal board and I would glass and myself in my garage in high school.
And then, after a while, I just started shaping my own boards and glassing them….. later I was asked other boards for other people, my friends, and finally I just started shaping my own, like first 21 boards….
So it worked out, I just kind of had a headache, I guess, for it.
I got hired professionally Nectar surf boards back in 1974 and I was their first shaper besides the owner Gary, like now.
I’ve been doing it ever since…. I wasn’t planning on making it my career, but this happened work out that way.
it’s has been 47 years of shaping. Right? It’s amazing!
Who were/are your references?
Donald Takayama, Jerry Lopez, Dick brewer, Terry Fitzgerald.
Those guys, yeah, Jeff Ho also, they kind of influenced me a lot.
They thought about the same way that I thought about, you know, as far as progressive ideas, we go in the seventies, the boards changed a lot….. so a lot of experimentation with different tales and bottoms and everything…..
Looking at today’s shapers, is there a new, young, upcoming shaper that you would recommend to follow?
Yeah, there’s so many different shapers.
I don’t know a lot of them that new guys, I know Ryan Burch is very successful.
He lives in my town, he is really good right off the get go, whether he shape it a 10 foot log or a little short board…..he’s very talented.
And then there is a guy named DJ Kane…… he’s originally from Florida, but he moved out here right after high school……he’s a very talented shaper too, he can do…short boards and long boards and everything in between too!
Is there anything out there like the, the perfect board?
Well, to be, to be honest, there’s a lot of perfect surfboard. It’s like…..what’s the perfect food, you know? what’s your favorite Italian food?
Is it the lasagna better than this or your Mexican food?
Again, surfboards they’re just different, you know….
There are classic longboards from the sixties there they’re timeless, like some of the Hanson, they’re just like, they just, work ….. made 50 years ago, 60 years ago, they still work great!
I do the classic boards, the 50, 50, the competitors and those are still great.
The Mark Richards twin fin….that’s a classic and always will.
I’ve experimented a lot of different shapes over the time and you know, I’ve also got a lot of them down, you know whether they’re a quad or a twin fin or a single fin…..
I would say that there it’s not one perfect board, but just, whatever’s a perfect board for you….because everybody surfs differently….. and there are different shapes that work differently for different people.
You know, of course it depends on the surf too, size and ability…..
So there is not the perfect board, but there is the perfect combination of a surfer and his surfboard
There are a lot of great shapes that we have perfected over the years and they always be good.
As long as the waves are the same and people are the same, there are going to be, just great boards….kind of “can’t go wrong with them”.
What is the most important thing in shaping?
I don’t know what the most important thing just because some things don’t really matter.
A board does not need to be perfectly symmetrical to work good and they don’t necessarily have to be pretty to work.
I’ve had boards and there’s been a lot of people who’ve had boards that were like, almost like mistakes that were great!
You’re shaped, I guess, thousands and more boards in your career…. What was the most important surfboard that you either bought or that has been ever given to you?
I started shaping at such a young age……. Recently, last year, Rory Russell, he shaped for me a board… that was nice!
I have a Roy Russell Lightning Bolt Pipeliner…that’s close to my heart. And so that’s probably the, probably that most important one I have.
We we’ve known each other for many years and then we did business together.
With Lightning Bolt, we’ve been gotten even closer together.
He was at my house on Sunday….I was delivering a, a blank for one of my customers in the Canary islands. …..
We are still close in touch and, you know, we see each other fairly often. he’s a great guy.
In your career, you shaped amazing boards and I’m sure, you have seen many clients and surfers from all over the world that they were asking you to shape for them. …. what was the craziest request you ever have received from a client?
Well, one of them was kind of weird…..like the tail would almost look like a toilet seat.
It was kind of like, I don’t know if you’d call it a moon tail or what, but it was just really weird.
I usually don’t have too many weird requests….
It usually just kind of, I do a lot of different boards, like belly boards, mini boards and other things, but generally not too many crazy staff.
What are your future plans?
Right now I’m just doing my work.
I have a lot of work right now…..basically I shape yeah….that’s what I’ve been doing for many years.
I just shape boards for Hansen and Lightning Bolt….last may for instance, I went over to Europe with Rory…five countries on four week….It was great!
I was planning on going back to Portugal this summer or spring to shape, but with the corona virus I got put on hold……we’ll see… if this thing goes away soon, I get to go to Europe and to shape some more.
Not any, not a huge plan. Just kinda doing what I do. I like to start traveling again when this thing’s over with “business as usual”
Traveling is the most important thing right now….. we need to go back to the old habits, right?
I hope it will become possible very soon.
We’re going to finish our interview with a short Q/A session, please answer the first thing that comes up to your mind….
The best surfboard that you ever ridden…
I’ve had a few, I like that I really, really enjoyed over the years…..like what we call magic surfboards.
One of them, a six, five I made, when I came back from Kauai in 1975.
It was over in the quiet of the summer….I ran into Buttons and another one…..they were all riding these things. I never saw one before.
So, well, I got home. I shaped one myself and that was one of my favorite boards of all time.
I’ve always liked swallowtails. So lately I’ve been riding like double wing swallow clot, and you get a lot of punch out of it.
Turn fast, go fast…today I’m an older, bigger guy, so I can’t ride five pins or six twos. ….this way a bigger guy can, ride a board that’s, even though it is larger, it’s still performing.
Best Shaper of all time….
I would probably have to say Dick Brewer because of his history and what he has done and all the boards he has made.
He’s probably one of the most influential shapers. He’s influential tons of people, tons of shapers, including myself.
Definitely a personal question….your favorite song:
I can’t think of what my favorite song is, there are so many out there, it is difficult to answer now.
Maybe I’m more lucky with your favorite surf spot……
Where I live, I surfed Swami’s a lot, but there are , you know, so many great waves in the world, but I would say that’s just because it’s in my backyard.
Swamis has been my favorite place for years, but you know, I love Trestles Malibu…which is I guess Brewer’s favorite surf spot too .
Best surfer of all time…..
Well, I’m not, I’m not going to say the one having the most fun.
That’s another hard one. Yeah.
I might say Kelly is the most famous because of his record, but you know, there are so many good ones for different times.
It’s like time period, like Barry, Jerry Lopez…. even though they weren’t necessarily doing contests and rather surfing for themselves
And then there are the new guys, you know…..phenomenal what they’re doing on waves…
I like John John and the Brazilians, they’re just like crazy … amazing aerial flips and everything is so good.
You know, when I was young, I was, you know, a pretty good surfer too, there are so many great surfers out there, Australians, Californians and more!
Yeah. I agree with you…. It’s different. It’s difficult to, to find like the right one, because if you look at the past and the present, it is a totally different way of surf right?
Yeah…you know, like those guys in the past that were surfing big waves….there were some guys who were small wave surfers….. and if you watch the contests now, everybody is just great!
You know, they all get the tube, they almost always come out!
Of course the equipment a little bit better now than it was, but you know, there were so many great surfers in the past… Gerry Lopez at the pipeline, Tom Curren, the Australian Tom Carroll….
Last question is completely unusual…..we want to know your best relationship advice…..
Well, probably my best relationship is with the ocean.
I really love the way it feels. Just like whether you’re winning or surfing.
You are sitting on your board waiting for the next wave….it’s so relaxing and serene.
Often, many times, I like to be out by myself, whether it be the morning or the afternoon and it’s just so quiet….I’m just enjoying it and getting the exercise…it sooths my body and my soul.
In relationship the golden rule is : “Treat others like you do want others to treat you”
There’s no room in this world for prejudice or anything like that.
You know….you treat people the way you want to be treated…. we all are all the same, we all breath the same air.
Don’t matter if you’re rich or poor, black or white or whatever religion…. so yes…treat everyone equally with respect and kindness ….be a good human being!