Meet Skip Smith
Meet Skip Smith
November 1958 – Present
Shaping since 1980
Began surfing in New Smyrna Beach, Florida in 1974.
Joined the United States Navy at 17 and was stationed in Coronado Ca.
I grew up surfing in southern California, Baja and Mainland Mexico, and Hawaii.
I resided in Imperial Beach Ca. and for several years shadowed one particular shaper, Dave Craig.
Understanding the fundamental concepts of aviation I realized that certain minor changes in design made significant changes in performance. Since water is just condensed air…..aviation seemed like a good place to start in design theory.
I made my first surfboard in 1979, and by the mid-’80s, I had taken several R&D trips to mainland Mexico where I began to understand the design path I was on, which was to build a particular type of board that would function for the average guy.
The designs I began to focus on were not your “standard” run of the mill surfboards that the pro’s were riding. I experimented with many ideas from those who I was most influenced by and then pushed those limits to extremes.
After many experimental boards some bad but most on track I picked up a few guys from the san diego area who were very influential in the surf industry and water. One in particular ended up having his photo taken at his home break which ended up as a center spread in surfing magazine. From that point on the orders started to build. I had a team of riders and a number of my boards could be seen in the line up every day.
Shaping became an obsession because I just could not just think there was “one” board for everyone or every wave. So I really went out on a limb some times. By 1990 I realized I was probably going to grow up and old at some point so I redirected my life and reenlisted in the naval reserves.
In 1992 I moved back to Florida with the United States Navy and became a flight engineer stationed out of Jacksonville Florida.
I still kept shaping surfboards yet in 2008 I tried Stand up paddle boarding. These SUP’s were oversized boards for surf camp where we would tandem surf with autistic children.
Being that these boards at the time were 11 + feet long and VERY expensive, I decided to shape one and see what thoughts I could implement from the surfboards I had designed in the past. With my first SUP being a success of sorts, I began to push a whole new envelope for a more progressive and maneuverable SUP.
Over the last several years I have developed a more “surfable” stand up paddleboard which I believe is more advanced, and much more versatile for the average to highly skilled paddle surfer.
In the past several months I have refined these “SUrPs” in such a way that I have carried my design over to my surfboards as well. Kinda going full circle
The theory behind my designs are;
The step rail: This is my signature. I have tested this theory for years and have seen other shapers hint at it. In a nutshell, by “stepping down” the rail you get the rail to FIT in the wave without having the wave trying to “push” the rail out from being to buoyant (thick). Combining this with;
The concave deck: I do not just remove foam from the center I designed a deck that basically “pushes” the volume from the center outwards toward the rail which increases stability very much like a catamaran. Most boards work off a thick center making the board “roll” on a longitudinal line down the center making the board “tippy”. Once a board reaches its tipping point it capsizes, where my design has the center of buoyancy move outward, which allows the board to self right itself even as much up to 60 degrees.
Volume is not removed it is just relocated in a different place.
Almost every board eventually develops a concave and is not recognized until the wax is removed exposing the deck. The deck is compressed over time (breaking in) to a point that the center of gravity lowers in the board, which in turn give you a more “sensitive/responsive” board. Combine this with;
The concave bottom: This in essence acts as a “gas pedal” of sorts. ‘Flattening” out the centerline rocker, and maintaining the “true” rocker of the board out near the rails, allows the board to follow the curvature of the wave when transitioning from rail to rail. Since my SUrP’s are much wider then the traditional long board, this design feature had to be incorporated with a series of transitioning panels to allow the “width” to transition to the rail. This is where I envisioned;
The bi plane hull (its theoretically a semi displacement planning hull) I found that width was not an enemy if designed with function, not just planning ability. The bi plane hull is designed to allow a much wider board (with a larger planning surface) to effortlessly “roll” on a longitudinal axis. Now, combine all this with;
The chinned rails: These rails are found on semi displacement and planning hulls of boats. This concept increases the waters ability to “release” from the board. Chine rails are extremely helpful in getting a wider board to not “stick” in a cutback, or catch going off the top.
As you see there is a lot that goes into these boards.
In essence each component by themselves are building blocks which produce a positive effect, yet when combined the sum of all these building blocks yield a greater effect then the individual components by themselves.
I was once told that “its not the board, it’s the surfer, which makes a surfboard perform”. In part this is very true but, I do not want to limit performance by building a board that may have limitations. I want each surfer to have a board where the only limitations are their imagination.