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Wild Rides

San Diego shaping phenom experiments with asymmetrical surfboards


Ryan Burch | Photo by Ellis / Surfer Magazine

I love this profile in Surfer Magazine of local surfer and former person to watch Ryan Burch, who’s in the midst of an extended internship of sorts (Volcom sponsors him to basically just be his rad self) as he moves away from traditional competitive surfing and towards a career (more like an obsession) in designing and shaping next-generation surfboards. He experiments with lumps, bumps, square (yes, square) boards, and all kinds of weird, “radical” asymmetrical shapes, as an understudy of sorts to some of the founders of that style. The story is perfectly titled “No Template,” as the writer paints a neat picture of a guy who does a lot of engineering, but writes nothing down. The Encinitas ocean is his lab, and he lives in some storied old hotel-turned-creative-compound called The Derby House:

"Burch likes the flex that stringerless boards offer, but despises the jarring, chattery feel of EPS blanks, so he simply glasses stringerless polyurethane blanks and wraps the rails in carbon-fiber tape. The results are beautiful: narrow, black-and-white cruise missiles that look like the product of a number-crunching aeronautic engineer.

But that’s as far as the engineer comparison goes. Burch hardly writes anything down. If you ask him to make an exact duplicate of a board he’s already built, Burch can only get as close as his memory allows. He has no database of templates and dimensions on a computer. No tattered notebook full of catalogued shapes. If you arranged every board Burch has ever shaped in a row, chronologically, you’d have a physical timeline of every thought he’s ever had about how to make a better surfboard.”

It’s not curing diseases or coding the next big app, but there’s all kinds of innovation going on here. 

Read the whole story in Surfer Magazine here.


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