Chaize--Shaping--Adam-Lindstrom-Photography--(4)

AN INTERVIEW WITH SURFBOARD SHAPER CHRIS CHAIZE

ASBURY PARK – I first met Chris Chaize about 4 years ago in Asbury Park. We were surfing a nice hollow right hander that was coming in off an anonymous jetty. This was one of the winters in Asbury when there would only be about four guys in the water. Hardcore surfers trading off perfect waves with one another.

When I realized Chris was the guy shaping all the beautiful boards I had seen in Lightly Salted (located on the boardwalk in Asbury), I started talking to him. My hope was that he could create a board to help sharpen my changing surf approach, and that he did. A few years have passed since then. I’ve ridden numerous boards from Chris and have been more then pleased on all levels. He’s a great shaper with a stellar work ethic and deep passion for his craft. We’re very lucky to have such a person in our community. Read on to see what drives his work and what he has in store for 2013. 

ZAPPO: When and where did you start surfing? What was the equipment like when you began?

CHAIZE: I started surfing in 1976, down in Lavallette. We spent our summers there with my Grandparents. I had surfed a little before that, but that was the summer I really became hooked. I learned on my brothers 7’0” single fin Home, which was shaped by a local guy named Dennis Doyle. The hot boards that summer were Bahnes, Lightning Bolts, and Channins. Winged swallows and pins were the popular tails.The boards were works of art, all resin tinted and pin lined. Your quiver consisted of one board and you made it work in all conditions.

ZAPPO: Shaping surfboards has always seemed like a mysterious art to me. I admire those who have committed to the craft. What inspired you to start shaping and what continues to inspire you each year?

CHAIZE: What started me shaping was wanting boards I couldn’t get. I had learned on single fins, then twins, then the early thrusters. I kept riding those boards until I moved down here in 1996, never switching to the new performance short boards. A few people were making some of those older style boards. I rode some of those, then started shaping my own. Mostly fishes and eggs. What inspirers me to keep shaping is the positive feedback I get from people riding my boards. I also think the endless possibilities of board design keeps me going. With all the templates I have I can create just about any shape. My favorite thing is getting an idea for a shape in my head, then pulling it out of a blank. That’s what keeps me interested; making something I’ve never shaped before.

Chaize--Shaping-Shack--Adam-Lindstrom-Photography-(2) Shaping Shack

ZAPPO: All your boards are hand shaped the “traditional” way. No pop outs,  no machine shaped boards or the like. Aside from taking this approach which many large board brands have left behind to cut cost and turn product quicker, what do you feel you have to offer that is unique in the realm of surfboard design?

CHAIZE: What I have to offer that is unique is that one on one experience with your surfboard shaper. If you’re from the area, chances are we have surfed together. That really helps when you’re making a board for someone. We could also get together, discuss what you want. Then draw your board out on a blank, until it’s the exact outline you’re looking for. You’re not going to be able to get that with too many other shapers.

ZAPPO: I’ve personally watched your shaping evolution over the last 4 years I’ve known you. You’re always progressing and working with new templates and design. What should people look for from you in 2013?

CHAIZE: In the winter orders slow down and I’ll work on some bigger wave boards for myself. After these last two swells, friends have called asking for shapes that are longer and more drawn in. So I have some guns to work on. As for new shapes for this summer, I’m thinking we’re going to see a surge of twin fins. So I’m working on a few twin fin outlines. An 80’s MR type, a short board style twin inspired by the boards Dave Rastavich is riding, and a fuller template wide point forward wing swallow tail model. These will be available this Spring at Lightly Salted in Asbury Park.

Chris-Chaize--Tube--Chris-Speigel---(2)Chris Chaize catching a barrell

ZAPPO: Where are some of your favorite places to surf?

CHAIZE: All of Central America, New Zealand, Australia, Nova Scotia, and New England. But my favorite spot is still my home breaks in Asbury with my friends out. When Jersey’s firing, you can’t beat it.

ZAPPO: The ocean has always been a place where I can cleanse myself, as well as gain insight. What are some of the most important lessons you’ve learned from your years of surfing?

CHAIZE: I’d have to say surfing has taught me how to share. I find myself paddling over some good ones now, watching someone inside get it and I’m stoked for them.That wasn’t always the case.

ZAPPO: Any final words of wisdom for fellow surfers out there?

CHAIZE: I’d like to say that the best surfboards in the world are made right here in the U.S.A.  You can’t buy a lot of things that are made here anymore. So why would you buy a board from anywhere else.

For more information check out chaizesurfboards.blogspot.com.

Photos by Adam Lindstrom Photography

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