Bryan Bates, Shaper.
My Journey making surfboards started back in Oregon in 1999 doing ding repair at a local surf shop. I became curious about all the different styles of boards I was getting my hands on and decided to have a go at shaping my own. I plucked up some courage and asked Gerry Lopez on the beach one day for advice and he said, "shaping is easy, learn how to glass," and that has always served me well. I did a few boards on my own and thought, "Man, I'd love to do this all the time." So I sought out the best shaper I could find in Oregon, Cort Gion, recently from Hawaii, and went to work with him. From him I learned the lot: shaping, glassing, sanding, polishing making fins, tints, acid splashes and resin pinlines. We didn't have glassing shops on the Oregon Coast so you had to know how to do everything. Other important mentors like Mike Tuel helped me refine these skills.
For 10 years I made boards professionally in Oregon until it became time for a move to the warm water, surreal point breaks and endless opportunity of Australia. Best thing I ever did! I moved to Byron and found work right away at a couple of the surfboard factories. Before long I was working with or for many people I'd only read about or seen in surf movies! Bob McTavish, Ben McTavish, Rich Pavel, Wayne Webster, Dain Thomas and Paul Mcneil (Sea Surfboards), Geoff McCoy, Town and Country, Bear, Ed Sinnot, Derek Hynd, Andrew Kidman, Brett Munro, Bruno Buzzolan, Ryan Lovelace, Tom Wegener, Wayne (Wiz) Rickards and Billy Mclean . I'm so grateful for the opportunities I've been given and to all the new and awesome mentors and friends I've got here.
Being able to do it all was a big benefit to me in getting started in Byron and what I do is actually fairly rare in the surf industry. It's not often that you can find a shaper you can talk to about a custom design who will shape, glass, sand, finish and even make the fins for your board. This is my business model and it not only ensures perfect quality, but also allows me to do the work I most love: making beautiful surfboards. I do all the work on my boards start to finish out of my own factory at 18 Acacia in the Byron Arts and Industrial Estate. I am available by appointment, and on Thursday evenings at 5pm to meet with you and discuss making your new board.
When I work with a customer, I'm trying to learn about what they really need in their new board to make their surfing experience better, not trying to fit them into a certain model with the right "liters". Every surfer is different and what feels good to one is not the same for the next. Then, since I'm also the glasser, we can plan what your board will look like to the smallest detail. My colours and glassing techniques are uniquely my own and reflective of my own persoanal style and aesthetic. I only use the best quality foam, resin and fiberglass and build each board to last 20 years or more. I have total confidence in my ability to listen to you and learn what it is you need, and to translate that information into the physical form to make you the best surfboard you've ever had in your life.