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Custom Surfboards In The UK | 15 Of Britain’s Best Surfboard Shapers

Hankering after a custom surfboard lovingly crafted by a local shaper? Say hello to these 15 foam gurus

The relationship between surfer and surfboard shaper is one of the most special and satisfying non-penetrative relationships it’s possible to have.

With this in mind, here’s a brief and by no means exhaustive list of surfboard shapers at work in the UK today. Between them they represent the majority of the UK’s surfable coastlines. Some are long-established and hugely influential board builders, others are relative newcomers running small-scale operations, but all are skilled and dedicated craftsmen passionate about getting their customers on the right surfboard for their particular needs.

Of course there are heaps of other great shapers in the UK that don’t appear below, including some of the bigger names—the idea is to get you thinking. Do a bit of research, ask around, decide on a shaper and a model, and go home a few weeks later with a surfboard that’s got your name on it.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers In Cornwall

Beachbeat Surfboards, St. Agnes

Beachbeat was founded by the late Peter ‘Chops’ Lascelles, an Australian surfer and shaper who rubbed shoulders with such greats as Bob McTavish and George Greenough before setting up shop in St. Agnes in the mid-‘80s. Head shaping duties have now been taken over by Chops’ son Marcus, who makes boards for some of the UK’s best surfers, he himself being one of them.

BLACK & WHITE SURFBOARDS, NEWQUAY

Like many of the shapers listed here, experienced Newquay-born foamsmith Paul Waters, who makes beautiful surfboards under the Black & White moniker, produces just a small number of boards for stock, preferring to focus on custom orders instead. Alternative shapes and longboards account for most of these, but he’s also known to make a mean performance shortboard.

SKINDOG SURFBOARDS, NEWQUAY
Shaper Ben “Skindog” Skinner and another dazzling longboard creation. Photo: Skindog Surfboards

Craftsmanship is in Ben Skinner’s blood. The family business, Skinner’s Brewery, makes award-winning Cornish beers; Ben, one of the world’s very best longboarders, makes first-rate custom surfboards. Between them, they’ve got you covered for the essentials in life. Naturally Ben’s a great shaper to go to for a custom longboard, but he makes great shortboards and retro shapes too, and offers a nice line in resin tints.

Diplock Pheonix Surfboards, Wadebridge

Chris “Bro” Diplock and Paul Fluin, who between them man the Pheonix factory in Wadebridge, enjoy an excellent reputation as makers of reliable, exquisitely finished surfboards that go brilliantly and stand the test of time. Team riders include Andrew Cotton and Jobe Harriss.

Fluid Juice Surfboards, Padstow

Fluid Juice’s famously affable Adrian Phillips has been shaping some of the UK’s finest surfboards for 30 years. Again, the emphasis is on custom surfboards and the requirements of each individual surfer; give Adrian a call or drop round the Padstow factory to discuss your order and take one of the demo boards for a trial run to help you make an informed decision.

NS Surfboards, Newquay
Russell Winter, the only British surfer ever to qualify for the world tour, stoked to pick up his new stick from Nigel. Photo: NS Surfboards.

UK surfing royalty. A top pro who achieved international success in the ‘80s, Nigel Semmens is now one of the nation’s longest serving and most respected surfboard shapers. He started working in Newquay’s Ocean Magic factory when he was just 18, and can still be found there today some 40 years later, turning out state of the art performance surfboards.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers In Devon

Gulfstream Surfboards, Woolacombe

The Gulfstream workshop was set up in the North Devon town of Woolacombe in ’93, and since that time has signed off over 10,000 finely tuned specimens of foam and fibreglass. Heading up the operation is Jools, a consummate craftsman and one of the UK’s most highly regarded board builders.

BLACKER SURFBOARDS, BRAUNTON

Old-skool Devon shaper Paul Blacker has been responding to custom surfboard orders for over 45 years. Surfboards have changed greatly in that time—pick an era and Paul can reproduce for you the style of board that defined it—but Blacker’s philosophy and working methods remain the same: he still makes every board himself by hand from start to finish.

Luke Young Shapes, Plymouth

A very solid bet on Devon’s south coast is Luke Young, who started shaping surfboards as a teenager in his garden shed. Some twenty years later he’s still going strong, although he now has his own factory on the outskirts of Plymouth, and collaborates with the likes of Hawaii’s Pat Rawson.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers In Wales

GUTS SURFBOARDS, SWANSEA

The professional surfer/shaper, once practically the norm on the pro circuit, is now something of a dying breed. Gower legend Chris “Guts” Griffiths, who achieved competitive success as one of world’s best longboarders in the ‘90s, won all his major national and international titles on boards shaped by his own hand. Longboards and hybrid shortboards are his speciality.

JP Surfboards, Swansea
This JP 9’6 log, halfway through the finishing process, sports a “full smoke tint with an acid wash nose inlay” — and it looks as rad as it sounds. Photo: JP Surfboards

Swansea’s John Purton is an all-round luminary in the shaping bay, as adept at fashioning performance shortboards and big wave weapons as traditional logs and shapes of a fruiter variety. His boards are favoured by many illustrious Welsh and non-Welsh shredders, Nathan Phillips and big wavers Tom Lowe and Fergal Smith among them.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers On The South Coast

Symms Surfboards, Chichester

Looking for a bespoke, hand-crafted keel fin fish, or traditional log, or just a bog-standard thruster for that matter? Possibly one with a gorgeous resin tint finish? Or incorporating sustainable materials such as BioFoam and organic resin substitutes? Pete Symms, who’s based in the Chichester area, might be your man.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers On The East Coast

Fluid Concept Surfboards, Scarborough

Four shapers, making boards under a variety of labels, make up the Fluid Concept family: Steve Croft, Rob Lion, Mark Dickinson and Chris Dawson. Between them they’ve worked with a host of national and international shaping talent, and together they run the gamut of surfboard design. Environmentally friendly methods of board building are a priority, and range of construction materials are available to choose from. There’s also a Fluid Concept shop at Scarborough’s South Bay.

Nelson Shapes Surfboards, Cromer
Decent fish can be found on the Norfolk coast. Photo: Nelson Shapes.

The allusion to Lord Horatio Nelson, Norfolk’s most famous one-armed, one-eyed son, isn’t overly promising — but it turns out that Stu Thompson, local hero and founder of Nelson Surfboards, has fully functioning eyesight, both arms intact, and a flair for crafting quality surfboards. Boards bearing his stamp are accordingly proliferating across East Anglian line-ups and beyond.

Custom Surfboards: Surfboard Shapers In Scotland

Jay Surfboards, Edinburgh
Surfboard or spaceship? Whatever it is, this mind-bending asymmetrical contraption shaped by Jason “Jay” Burnett is spectacular. Photo: Jay Surfboards

One of the few board makers in Scotland and an enthusiastic convert to the asymmetrical school of thought, Jason Burnett runs Jay Surfboards out of his factory in Edinburgh, where he hand-shapes, paints and glasses all the boards himself. He has an impressive range of shapes in his repertoire, an evident passion for board design, and a steadily growing list of clients that includes Scottish champ Chris Noble.

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