Ryan Lovelace is a surfer/shaper who is the creator of Point Concept Surfboards in Santa Barbara, California. Lovelace constantly experiments and innovates new ways for people to find the flow, speed and simplicity in their surfing. We spoke with Ryan to learn more.
What was it like growing up?
I was born in Seattle, Washington. It hits me more and more just how lucky I was to come from where I did. My parents would let my brother and me cruise around and if we wanted say, a kite or something, we’d go to the front yard and pick out some bamboo and newspaper and get to work. That also included any contraption that we might be into: R/C airplanes, cars, boats. Then I got heavily into motorcycles through high school. It became a graduation from working on small things to bigger things.
What got you into surfing?
My dad. He surfed a bit back in the day and he would tell me stories. We’d also go visit my grandparents on Maui and we would spend hours in the water getting pushed into waves on a sponge. My uncle Mark had a sponge with retractable fins that blew my mind. It was the apple of my eye.
When did you get your first surfboard?
I bought my first surfboard with my brother from a huge jar of pennies and nickels we had accumulated from my dad’s pockets. We found a board at a garage sale behind my dad’s shop and we bought it for $100. We even went to the bank to change all our coins into cash for it. I still have that board.
Do you remember the first time you stood up on a board?
Not entirely, but I do remember a few days later, catching a little wave with my brother and my dad, and watching the reef go by underneath. It tripped me out. That was the first time I ever felt real “glide.”
Who did you look up to and admire when you were growing up?
My parents and their friends who did cool stuff. But I didn’t really have any all-time heroes or anything, but I did like Nolan Ryan, Alberto Tomba, and a handful of artists.
Why did you start shaping displacement hulls and other alternative crafts?
For the first two years of my shaping, I followed the trends: keel fishes, gloss/polish jobs with hot rod pinlines and all the bells and whistles. I loved building those boards, but after 3 years of it just wasn’t clicking. I didn’t shape for 3 months and just went surfing the whole time.
Kyle Lightner asked a question: “If you could shape whatever you wanted, day in day out, what would you shape?” I said hulls. Because I’d been shaping them for myself for a couple of winters and that’s where my interest was. At that time, people weren’t quite on the whole hulling bandwagon yet.
Kyle and I went surfing a few days later at Rincon and we saw this tall guy with a mustache riding a Liddle really well. Turns out it was Kyle Albers and the next day Lighner and I went to the shaping room. Lightner told me that Albers had never really found the limits of how flat and how bladed a hull could get – so I took it as a challenge. I laid down a long, straight template with a hip at the fin and added a really wide nose and just started going at it. Albers liked it a lot. Lightner and I scored countless days with that board at some choice spots, rode it in everything and we loved it. It changed everything about my life and my shaping motivation.
Since then, hulls are pretty much all I have shaped. It’s what has been the most appealing to me. Being able to draw longer lines and flowing in the power band of the wave. It just feels connected to surf that way. All I’ve done since has been shaping the boards that I want to surf. Somehow lots and lots of other people really like them, too. I couldn’t be more pleased.
What projects are you currently working on?
I’m working on whatever pops into my head. For every two boards I do for other people, I do one for exploration and fun. They end up being models for other people and the cycle continues.
Tell us about your crew and how they influence your shaping
Even more than shaping or surfing, I love watching my friends ride my boards. It’s the biggest rush to hang out and watch them actually “get” what I do in the shaping room. When I see the water flowing off the board and the weight being put into the perfect spot on the board and the wave, it makes me want to shape again. It’s whole reason I’m doing what I am doing.
What’s your most memorable wave?
Probably the double tube I had at Sandspit last winter. Shoulder high-ish, I was riding my Vampire Hull. It was the perfect board for a perfect wave. The tube was so square and so dry. And the sound that that wave makes is incredible as you sit in that vortex.
What is the most memorable place you’ve been?
What is the greatest thing you have learned in your life?
If I do things from a position of strength and positivity, good will always win out. I’m still learning. The hardest decisions I’ve ever had to make have always been the best ones.
What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?
It’s something fun to do and it happened to have taken over my life. I don’t ever want it to become work because it’s given me freedom ever since day one. It’s a challenge and the ultimate “in the moment” experience – which is what we all live to find.
Who are some of the people you feel are shaping the path for surfing today?
People like Ryan Burch, Ryan Thomas, Morgan Maassen, Kyle Lightner, Trevor Gordon, Robin Kegel, Richard Kenvin, and Nick Palandrani. Greg Liddle and George Greenough. It’s funny how some of them are still shaping the path of surfing today… 40 years later.
In terms of building boards, I don’t know. Anyone who is doing it for the right reasons and following what they love – and not doing what is trendy.
What is your favorite board? Your favorite surf spot?
It totally depends on my mood. I am open to riding any board on any day. I typically end up surfing 4–5 different boards in a session.
What’s your favorite meal?
It would be my Dad’s sacred BBQ salmon. And I’m really trying to learn to not love pizza so much, but it’s really difficult.
What are you currently listening to on your iPod?
If I owned one, it would be the John Butler Trio, Earth, Wind and Fire, Neil Young, Tom Petty, Bob Dylan, Stevie Ray Vaughn… too many to go with, but hopefully you get the idea.
What are you most grateful for?
My life, my friends, my “job,” Herbie, and my family. And the simple fact that we can ride waves. What’s next for Ryan Lovelace? At this point who knows? Everything comes up organically so I don’t plan too much out aside from when and where I’m going to meet people. There will be lots of surfing this winter. And now I finally have a solid demo quiver for the guys here. I’m very interested to see what we get into.
Find out more about Ryan Lovelace and Point Concept Surfboards here.