Each Seven Surfboard is made completely by hand by myself, Bryan Bates. I am a native Oregonian and very proud to live and surf here. I've been incredibly fortunate in being able to learn the trade of surfboard building from some true masters up here in the Northwest. Guys like Cort Gion, Mike Tuel, and Dana Williams have passed on to me an amazing wealth of knowledge. This training, in addition to my artistic ability, has allowed me to build the kind of surfboards that I have dreamed of--boards that not only have great shapes and glassing but also unusual and original artwork. I want every board I make to be a one-of-a-kind, and never exactly duplicated. I refuse to make a clear (white) board. Don't even ask me, 'cause I won't do it. I love color, and the challenge of an artistic project. Lately I've been putting most of my color down on boards with pigmented resin. This means that the color is added to the resin either on the foam or in the glassing of the board. I prefer the pigment to airbrushing because it will never fade, and has a very pure, bright color quality. I do airbrush some of the boards I make, depending upon the nature of the artwork.
My templates for the outlines of most of my surfboards come from derivatives of the legendary Cort Gion and Bobby Turner surfboards. Proven outlines, handed down to me from those who most definitely know. I tweak the templates slightly and make them my own. Also, I take templates from old and new boards that work well and throw them in the mix. I fiberglass boards to last, utilizing "S" cloth fiberglass instead of the traditional "E" cloth; this creates a board which is significantly stronger, more resistant to dings and has a more lively flex. I enjoy the functional aesthetic of some "old school" glassing techniques like cut laps and leash loops, color tints and opaques, foam stains, acid washes and glass on fins. I glass all my boards at the highest quality level available. Additionally, I make my own fiberglass fins for some of my surfboards, which allows me to dial in the perfect fin combination for each board. I can glass these fins on at the precise angle and toe-in that I want, instead of relying on what the fin box manufacturers are putting out. The result is a much better performing set of fins that is totally custom fit to each board. For fin boxes, I only install Lokbox, made by Rainbow. Check out www.lokboxfins.com for more information and the fins that are available.
Many advances have been made recently in the quality of epoxy resins and the eps and xps blanks which manufacturers are creating. The advantage of a lightweight but extremely strong surfboard can be understood by beginners as well as those pushing the edge of performance. In the past I have avoided epoxy because of the artistic limitations of the resin, but Iím happy to say that the resin has finally caught up to polyester in terms of workability. I am currently producing some terrific epoxy boards and can offer most of my color work and shapes in eps/epoxy. I use Resin Research epoxy from Greg Loehr exclusively. Many surfers these days are enamoured with the surftech/boardworks/chinese popouts epoxy surfboards which are so prevalent in our market. Obviously ding resistance, weight and a reputable shaperís name on the board are a big attraction. However, I would encourage you to consider that a custom epoxy surfboard can far outperform these boards, and you donít have to rely on the one-size-fits-all shapes and artwork limitations. Furthermore, a custom epoxy often beats these pop-outs on price too!
One thing that customers often donít think of when ordering a new surfboard is the stringer. Any type of custom stringer configuration is possible, and often produces stand-alone gorgeous surfboards which need no color work to be considered special. Of course the more lumber you add, the heavier the blank will be and, by virtue the finished board itself. However, one can also request colored foam stringers which add a marginal weight, and a great look either matched up with wood or as outrigger stringers. Wedge stringers, parabolics, triple, double, T-bands, just ask! I order blanks directly from US Blanks, and often request special custom rockers, so having them cut in special stringers is never a problem, even with eps.
Custom surfboards are my most favorite to make, but I offer 8 different models of surfboards stock that one can order, or a person could ask for a custom shape based upon one of my stock models. I live and surf in the Northwest, and build surfboards suited specifically for the waves here. In general, most of my boards will have more foam (thickness), be wider and have a flatter entry (less rocker) than the industry standard. I have found that a little more board works a lot better in the average kind of surf we have here in the Northwest. Here, you need a board that will float and paddle well, speed through flat sections, and handle a bit of chop on the water. The next part of the equation is to create a board that surfs the wave. I have found that a slight vee in front of the fins helps the board fit the shape of the wave and gives you a "ball bearing" for your back foot to surf around on. Of course any type of custom shape can be made according to your requests.
I myself ride all types of boards from a 5'10" twin fin to an 11'9" tandem longboard and everything in between. Being able to ride all types of surfboards in all types of surf allows me to understand how to make them. There are so many types of boards and different surfboard designs and I enjoy the qualities of each one. I certainly don't know it all, and never will, so I am always looking to learn and talk about board design. In my opinion, the best shaper out there is the one who makes you the board you ask for. I get a lot of satisfaction in listening to my customers, surfing with them and getting an idea of how they ride, and building them the surfboard that allows them to take their surfing to a higher level, or at least have more fun out there. So give me a call, I'd love to build you your next dream-board.
Bryan Bates (updated Dec Ď08)