The best show yet? The 2023 Boardroom Show and Icons of Foam shape off honors Bing Copeland.
Drama, social media call-outs, fresh oysters, better-than-usual board sales, and foil boarders collide to create shock and awe at the Boardroom Show's Icons of Foam shape off in honor of Bing Copeland.
Before diving into the blow-by-blow of the event, let's first start by awarding the Space Rock team with an award for best culinary presentation. According to the Boardroom Instagram, the guys from Space Rock Glassing flew in and shucked over 40 Ocean State Narragansett Oysters in their booth over the two-day show. Runner up in this category goes to Trip Forman from Real Watersports and his Yeti tote cooler full of ice-cold refreshments. Thanks for keeping everyone hydrated for the last few hours of the show Trip. In short, the show was really fun and vibes were high.
Scott Bass and David Lee Scales recap the 2023 Boardroom Show, awkwardly missing is any mention of the Shape Off controversy.
With linguistic accouterments and culinary congratulations out of the way, let's dig into the main dish and the rest of the show. The Boardroom Show is billed as the largest surfboard marketplace and an event to highlight the surfboard manufacturing industry. It's hard to argue the show does not live up to its billing, but it's also too easy to accept this boilerplate as the sum of the event's worth. The show, mainly the Icons of Foam portion, is a serious competition, not for money but for respect. The type of respect that can make or very least extend a shaper's career. From a brand perspective, the pressure to show up with new and interesting product is un like any other event. I personally was overcome with brand envy when I saw the eccentric but highly ridable shapes of Christian Beamish revealed. Expectantly, both the Hobie and Bing booths were decked out with impeccably finished boards that fired a shot across the bow of any young shaper's ship foolish enough to aspire to compete in their realm. Long story short, the Boardroom show is primarily fun and games, but believe me when I say all participants are doing their best to come correct because a good or bad showing can have repercussions for one's career and ability to catch set waves a their local break for years to come. To hammer in this point, here is a list of a few of the past winners of the Boardroom Show's Icons of Foam Shape Off: Ricky Carroll, Wayne Rich, Stu Kenson, Roger Hinds, Marc Andreini, Pat Rawson, Rick Rock, Matt Biolos, Ward Coffey and more.
Wayne Rich, exhausted and paying reverence, after giving his all against good friend Hank Warner in the first round of the shape off.
The blood, sweat, and foam dust shed by exhibitors, Best in Show entrants, and Icons of Foam shape off contestants leading up to the opening of the show could have filled the exhibitor's hall. Both metaphorically and literally speaking, those elements were present during Friday's setup. The smell of perspiration, not of sweaty fear but of hard labor and perseverance, filled the exhibitor's booths as finally crafted boards were hoisted aloft by callused hands and set upon stands, the gentle movement disturbing the fine dust left over on the boards from the night before's finish sand. Never before have so many craftsmen and women shown up to one place completely prepared, exhausted, and excited to talk story. Talking to Nick Woodin of Woodin Surfboards while grabbing our badges, Nick shared that he had been up through the nite the week and days before the event, putting the finishing touches on the quiver showcased in his booth. Of course, he did all this with a smile while balancing his custom order business and dad duties because, as he put it, "it's worth it." By the end of Friday's setup, it was clear the showcase of boards would be the best ever compiled at a Boardroom show, and the usual to-cool-industry-guy facades would be left at home in exchange for a genuine interest and respect for the craft on display.
The crowd fills in around the Boardroom shaping bays on Saturday morning.
On Saturday morning, as the line of consumers waiting for entry to the show grew, Wayne Rich and Hanky Warner took initial measurements, dialed in their custom rocker sticks, and fired up planers in the first round of the Icons of Foam shape off. Coined a "first-round-final," the two legends went to battle as the crowd grew around them. In attendance for the shape-off, standing hip-to-shoulder with aspiring 8-year-old children, were legends of the board-building world, Mike Hynson, Jock Sutherland, Joe Roper, Chris Christenson, and Ryan Burch. At the end of the first heat, Wayne's board would be a closer replication; the two shapers would shake hands, and Wayne would move on to the next round. Also shaping their way through the first round would be Dane Perlee, Michael Arenal, and Rick Rock.
Thomas Bexon of Thomas Surfboards deserves special acknowledgment for finishing his board in the first round by using the planer in only one hand. Probably the first person to employ this technique at the Boardroom show. According to Roger Hinds, "It was one of the wildest and most impressive things I saw all weekend." Unfortunately Thomas didn't make it through to the second round.
The hardest working man in surfboards. Roger Hinds was THERE from start to finish.
Another shoutout needs to go to Roger Hinds, who spent more time on the show floor than anybody else. When Roger shows up, he shows up! From 7 am Friday until close on Sunday, Roger was shaping, shaking hands, discussing boards, and kissing babies in the Surftech booth.
Exhibiting at the show was the whose-who of surfboard building; a few of the standouts include Channel Islands, Marc Andreini, Hobie, Rusty, Bing, Dark Arts, T. Patterson, Aipa, Gary Linden, and Ryan Sakal. Name a legendary surfboard shaper or brand, and they were probably there. Mike Hynson, cool as ever and stylish as fuck in tie-die, and rocking the confidence of a man whose seems some faces come and go was a highlight for me. A mentionable no-show was past winner Matt Biolos and Lost Surfboards.
Duke Aipa shows the goods at the Boardroom Show.
As always, it was great to catch up with old friends and new friends alike at the Surftech booth. The two most common conversation starters received at the Surftech booth, other than "Have you been surfing?" are usually, "I used to have a board just like this..." or "So how does this construction differ from this other construction?" It was a pleasure explaining the performance and eco characteristics of our new Gerry Lopez Glider and Wayne Rich Wildcard models built in NFT construction. Making "magic boards" available again to surfers who otherwise wouldn't have access is one of the main reasons we do business. One of Donald Takayama's favorite parts of working with Surftech is that every board would be a replica with the same quality as the first board he made for Surftech. By the end of the show, we had made many new friends and sold more boards, one of our goals for the show, than expected.
In addition to the shape-off and the exhibitors, music from local bands rocked the outside food court while Steve Sherman and Jimmy Metyko showed off their new photo book. In addition, Ben Gravy had a long line of devoted followers eager for an autograph and photo, and his new line of boards with Shaper Brian Brown were on display to the public for the first time. A panel on foil surfing by foil experts entertained and informed the crowd of potential foilers. For those into the car culture surrounding surf culture, a grip of restored surf mobiles was on display around the venue.
For speed and accuracy, Wayne Rich built multiple custom measuring tools in the weeks leading up to the show.
The finals of the Icons of Surf commenced towards the end of the day on Sunday. After shaping a board earlier in the day, the finalists were presented with a thick chunk of foam and the arduous task of replicating an Eaton/Bing bonzer with Grand Canyon-sized concaves. It would be a disservice for us not to mention the performance both contestants put on, Wayne Rich showing deep reverence and appreciation to his mentor Dan Bendickson while acknowledging the importance of the event to all participants and viewers alike. We would also be remiss if we didn't recognize the finals were a shock to all at the show and many who diagnosed the boards via the internet in the following week. Joel Tudor and other respected elders of surf culture took the internet to share their shock and numerous shapers and decision makers from and around the event shared personally their regret for not personally disqualifying the board or speaking up about the board not being complete. In the end, though, all participants acknowledged that the show was all about the stoke shared with the next generation and the honor paid to those who came before. Congratulations to Michael Arenal on his win of the Icons of Foam.
What are your thoughts, should an unfinished board be able to win the Icons of Foam shape off?
Michael Arenal is an impressive young talent to keep an eye on.
Wayne Rich congratulates Michael Arenal on his win.
A big thanks to Scott Bass, US Blanks, and everyone involved in activating the show. Pulling together an entire community in one place at one time is a monumental challenge. Scott and his team seem to pull it off with effortless style. It almost looks like they are having fun. Case in point: The maniacal smile on Scott's face while zipping around the exhibitor booths in a brand-new golf cart.
"It was an incredible weekend as the surfboard manufacturing industry honored a true legend and Icon of Foam Bing Copeland. The Surftech shapers were represented well, with Roger Hinds and Wayne Rich displaying their incredible skills -- an homage to their mentor, Bing. "
-- Scott Bass
To all who participated, we can't wait to see you again next year. We are sure your booths, shaping, and the event in general will continue to get better and better.