SCOTT BASS: THE BOARDROOM
Interview and images by Glenn Sakamoto
In addition to being the host of a popular San Diego surf talk radio show, Scott Bass is the creator of the annual Boardroom Show in Del Mar, California, a surfboard-centric show that showcases the craftspersons that make the boards. We spoke with Scott to find out what is happening this year at the show.
What is The Boardroom?
The Boardroom is a few things. First and foremost, it is the only surfboard industry trade show. It is the surfboard industry getting together in solidarity. We have power as a unit. Every industry has a trade show and there's a reason for that. Power in numbers.
Secondly, the Boardroom is also a get together – a happening. Every surfer I know loves surfboards, so this is a huge confluence of like minded individuals, surfers, frothing over surfboards of all shapes and sizes. It's like a high school reunion. The vibe is special. It's also a great opportunity for retailers to see what is happening, the cutting edge stuff that the industry is putting out.
Originally, as you know, it started out as Sacred Craft. The Clark Foam closure in late 2005 had a lot to do with the Sacred Craft Surfboard Show. New ideas were popping up – both good and bad. Johnny-come-lately MBA types trying to make a fast buck. Hardened surf craftsmen trying to keep their head above water. Massive amounts of offshore product filling a void. Newby retailers that needed an education in craftsmanship. Plus the economy was going way south. Something needed to be done.
Tell us more...
We needed to unify. We needed to come together. We needed to make a stand. The ASR had sort of lost its focus. That's what got the whole thing started. I opened the doors and the industry stepped in. The board builders deserve all the credit. They got involved right away. It's their show. They stepped up and said, “Excuse me, we're here. We've been here and we're not going away.” I could go into a surf shop and the guy behind the counter wouldn’t know where his boards were being made, or who shaped them—or what shaped them. People needed an education. Stuff was changing. Hell, I needed an education. EPS. Epoxy. Sandwich construction. Vacuum bagging. XTR. Bio resins. Bio foam. Soy-based this. Sugar-based that. Laminates.
Of course, surfers know authenticity and the real deal. You can't pull stuff over on surfers. The ocean has a way of making us see through the crap pretty quickly. Stuff was coming at pretty fast and furious. Sacred Craft was a chance put it all under roof, everyone sort of take a deep breath and see the market unfold.
Why is The Boardroom important to the culture of surfing?
It's not for me to a say whether the Boardroom is important to the culture of surfing or not, but I know damn well that surfboards are, and the Boardroom celebrates surfboards and the people who make them and the people who ride them. Our culture's foundation is surfboards. 99.9% of all the magical moments in surfing involved a surfboard and a wave. Duke Kahanamoku Eddie Aikau, Miki Dora, Greg Noll, Nat Young, Gerry Lopez, MR, Cheyne Horan, Simon Anderson, Russ Short, PT, Ryan Burch, Daniel Thomson, Alex Knost -- the list is endless. All identified by their styles or by their surfboards. In many cases styles manifest by their respective surfboard designs.
How are surfboards important to the culture?
Surfers are identified by their surfboards and all surfboards make us feel young. I dare you to go put a new surfboard under your arm and tell me you don't feel like a 16 year old kid! Surfboards are the philosophical icon of enduring youth. The best ride of your life. Do you remember the shoes you wore to the beach or the board you were riding? I bet every single one of us remembers his/her first custom surfboard. It all comes back to the surfboard. The stories, the history, the epic moments. Nat Young named his surfboard "Magic Sam." Pretty sure he didn't name his board shorts.
Do you remember that one epic day at Cloudbreak a few years ago, the day the pros became amateurs and the amateurs became pros? Mark Healey was scratching and he got caught inside, had to bail his board and dive. What I remember about that moment? Healey’s surfboard in the feather of the lip. Jackie Dunn at Pipe from the Surfing Magazine poster. What do I remember? That gorgeous Lightning Bolt under his feet. It all comes back to the surfboard.
What is the most challenging aspect of putting on a show like this?
The marketing. There are plenty of ways to spend your marketing budget. Which ones work? Which ones don’t?
What is the most rewarding aspect for you?
Seeing stoked surfers at the show. The spark in their eyes as the fondle a board. Coming up with unique, engaging, insightful ways to showcase and highlight the special people that occupy the surfboard industry space. Those people that do what they love and love what they do. People like the Tim Stamps of the world – guys that are just carving out a living. It is not easy. But we can do it if we stay together.
Tell us about the Ultimate Craftsmen Project...
We’ve got four craftsmen building boards from start to finish – every step of the process. Craftsmen who can do it all: source materials, shape, laminate, sand, paint, pinline, gloss, polish, layup fins, foil fins—everything. The entire build process of all four surfboards will be captured on video and pushed out to the public via the internet & social media as a build up to the show date. The video vignettes will include insight about the boards themselves, source materials, craftsmen insight, and discussion about the process.
The videos will help the judges, and the viewing public, decide who they think built the finest surfboard. The boards will be on display at the show. The full-length video segments will be on display looping on a large screen. The four craftsmen selected to compete are Roger Hinds, Marc Andreini, Gene Cooper, and Travis Reynolds. The judges include a Who’s Who of surfboard building in San Diego: Gary Stuber, Jim Phillips, Peter St. Pierre, Sam Cody, and John Cherry.
What else can we expect this year and how will it be different from last year?
This year we’re honoring one of my all-time favorite shapers, Rusty Preisendorfer in the Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters shape-off. Competing in that event this year are Dave Parmenter, Chris Christenson, Stu Kenson, Ward Coffey, Tim Stamps and defending champ Roger Hinds. We’ve also planned a shaping exhibition for the women that will include Christine Brailsford Caro, Kelly Connolly, Valerie Duprat, and Whitney ‘Windy Wind’ Lang.
This years’ Best in Show focuses solely on sustainability. We are looking for earth friendly source materials that don’t give up board performance. The boards must meet Sustainable Surf.org’s Ecoboard Benchmark.
Other stuff this year includes the always popular RevChem glassing demos. Futures Fins is putting on a fin seminar to help us all understand why and what we are riding. Surfing Heritage is putting together a Tom Morey exhibit. Randy Rarick will be doing Antique Roadshow style vintage surfboard appraisals. Plus tons of other stuff not the least of which is the show is almost full! So all the top surfboard shapers, manufacturers and designers will be there, with their state-of-the-art surfboards and other cool hard-goods to check out.
Find out more about The Boardroom Show online at www.boardroomshow.com.