Ian Zamora is a California surfer/shaper. Growing up in the Phillipines, Ian has since been playing catch-up with the surf lifestyle he has grown to love. Under the tutelage of Rich Pavel and Glen Kennedy, he has quickly carved his own niche in the surfing industry. We spoke with Ian to learn more.
What was your life like growing up?
I spent the first 13 years of my life in the Philippines. We had a small beach resort out in the country, so I had a lot of time to stare at empty white sand beaches with no waves. Moving to California was a big change in my life—trying to fit in, bouncing back and forth with sports, etc. Until I was a late teen, I had no involvement with surfing whatsoever.
After high school, I was working with elderly people and working at hot rod shops. A few friends dragged me to the beach to go surfing. Since then, my life has been in warp speed trying to catch up for the years I missed out on with the lifestyle.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I learned on a board borrowed from a friend for a few months, then finally bought a used… Lost Speed demon board at the Ventura Surf shop. I think I paid $120 for it. I surfed that thing ’til it died. My first custom board was from a local shaper that became one of my mentors—Glen Kennedy.
What was the feeling you had when you first stood on a surfboard?
First time I stood up, I fell right off. I wanted to catch more! The first time I stood up and legitimately rode a wave was the day before I bought my first used board. (Laughs)
Who did you look up to and admire when you were a young man?
Because I had such a different upbringing without any involvement in surfing, I was an avid basketball and baseball player, and looked up to basketball and baseball stars of the time, but was never really interested in mimicking any specific player. Once I discovered surfing, I admired Taylor Knox for his disciplined approach and powerful style.
Of all the places you have traveled to, what place in particular stands out and why?
Each of the great places that I have been fortunate to visit holds a special place in me. Australia, Portugal, England, Bali, Hawaii, etc. all stand out in their own special way, so no particular place stands out.
Who or what inspires you?
Carla, family, people that are ready to lend a helping hand, anyone that pushes surfing and surfboard progression while still appreciating the history and old school traditional ways (like the art of trim, glide and flow).
As far as surfboard design and construction, I’ve been inspired by Glen Kennedy, Rich Pavel and the diverse crew of craftsmen that are pushing surfboard design to the next level—not to mention all the laminators, sanders, polishers and fin guys who are constantly innovating their techniques.
When did you start shaping?
I think its about seven to eight years since I started shaping. I was working at Kennedy Surfboards’ retail shop and I wanted to try out more boards, but just couldn’t afford it. One day, I asked Glen if I can buy a blank off him. Took it home that afternoon and started shaping it. I think I used our trash cans as stands and demolished our backyard with foam dust. A month later, I asked my parents if I could turn part of the garage into a shaping room. That’s when I knew I was sucked in to building surfboards.
Tell us about your boards.
The boards I shape are the boards I ride, but with the help of our team, we are constantly expanding, experimenting and dialing in our working quiver. If you can imagine it, I can shape it.
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
There are a lot more things to learn out in the world than in a small room in school.
Do you have any regrets or wish you had done something differently?
If I could have change something? I would have started surfing earlier in life.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
Surfing and its lifestyle has played a really important role in my life. I’ve met my other half (Carla Rowland), some great friends and traveled to places I always dreamed of.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
I’m fortunate that I get to play around with a lot of new designs. My favorite board constantly changes, but at the moment it’s my orange channel bottomed Twin Arc Tail Quad. My favorite surf spots would be First Point Malibu and Leo Carrillo—perfect testing grounds for new ideas.
What’s your favorite meal?
I’m Filipino… I eat ‘em all!
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
My iPod got stolen, along with a couple surfboards, from my van in my driveway. Pandora is usually on while driving—Tristan Prettyman, Stone Mason, Sara Bareilles, Lani Trock, Adele, Jason Mraz. I’m diggin’ the raw sound of live acoustic tracks right now.
What are you most grateful for?
I am most grateful for Carla for standing by me and pushing me to do what am capable of, and my family for supporting and believing in me. And everyone that has continued to support us in this business.
What’s next for Ian Zamora?
It’s the time of the year where we get to travel again. Japan in May, Italy and Europe in September. New possibilities and opportunities with the new factory. Stay tuned!
Find out more about Ian Zamora and his shapes here.