Words and photo: Corey Walter – Fat Wave Photography
Corey Walter met with the man behind SOLID SURFBOARDS, Dan O’Hara. Dan was born in New York, but ventured from the eastcoast to the westcoast, and is now living and shaping in San Diego, California.
The man behind the dust mask at SOLID SURFBOARDS:
Corey: Tell us about yourself. Who is behind Solid Surfboards and how did you get into shaping?
Dan: I just show up to the shop and shape whatever’s on order. I owe everything to my crew right now, they are so fucking on it. I grew up working in surf shops, surfing, staring at surfboards, had to crack a few eggs to make an omelette… you know? It’s cool because you don’t go to school or have to get a degree or license to start making boards, just get a blank and start hacking at it… Still hacking at it today.
Corey: Who mentored you? Who/What inspired you to start shaping?
Dan: Grew up around the corner from a guy, Mike Shermeyer, who shapes insane boards, everyone in our area wants boards from him, local legend, he was close friends with Rick Rasmussen who was a pro/shaper back in the 70’s or 80’s… They went over to Hawaii together to work for Brewer and got their leg up from him. Another local shaper Pete Falon of Wyvern Surfboards gave me a hand and all the info for materials and blanks, showed me how to glass. Went over to Bunger for a winter to glass boards and learn a few things from Tommy who has taken over the board production from Charlie Sr. They are about as authentic as a surf shop gets on the East Coast, been around and building boards right there since the 60’s on Long Island. Pete and Mike sent me down to Charles Williams in Fort Pierce, FL where C-Dub really showed me the fundamentals to shaping, and more so with EPS/Epoxy construction. I owe everything to Charlie. He is the fucking man, I dont even know how old he is but he still charges Puerto and boosts like a 14 year old in crumbly north jetty shit.
I guess I’ve just always been intrigued by boards and what makes them work.
Corey: What other names do you shape for?
Dan: Mainly South Coast. We’ve got a handful of private label brands that we manufacture boards for but they will remain anonymous.
Corey: What kind of board do you prefer to shape and why?
Dan: “Hybrid’s” Funky little boards but that actually work in decent surf. I keep pushing the small boards and trying to build drive into them, experimenting… I go back to my shortboard and it feels weird.
Corey: How long have you been shaping boards?
Dan: Since 2004
Corey: About how many boards have you shaped over the years?
Dan: Honestly only a few thousand, I could lie and say that I’ve shaped 10,000.
Corey: What is unique about your boards?
Dan: Nothing really. Other than that most of them are epoxy and we make our own blanks and are always experimenting with stuff, but so does everyone else. They are white light and strong. Most of them are around 5.5 lbs and glassed 6/46, don’t know how we do it… ask our glasser AJ.
Corey: What is your most popular board?
Dan: Sasquash, then Butter Knife, then Barracuda, then…
Corey: When did you shape your first surfboard? Where did you shape it?
Dan: 2004, in my parents garage, it was terrible…
Corey: Tell us about your surf team.
Dan: We are more focused on local guys who have a good attitude in and out of the water. They are brand representatives and we don’t care how good you surf if you are arrogant, that is not attractive. We work with local shops referring guys and go from there.
Corey: What philosophy do you approach the surf life with?
Dan: If you’re not having fun you’re doing it wrong.
Corey: How has surfing changed your life?
Dan: Teaches me how to live and more importantly enjoy the moment I am in. When you get out of the water it gets a little more difficult to do that, but at least I get a reprieve when I am surfing.
Corey: What is your favorite board and your favorite break?
Dan: Been working on this funky combination of things. The butter knife was the first in the series, it has a concave deck and single through double thru vee bottom, its fun but for me it’s too loose for such a wide tail board. So I changed it up and put a moon tail and deep single all the way through the back, moved the rear fins back a bit to add drive and the thing hauls. I’m 6’0 x 185 lbs and the “Fork” is 5’6 x 20” x 2 ¼” around 28 liters I think. The Bento Box is another new one using similar concepts, round nose though, concave deck and same bottom and fin setup. Rad little board for making the best of marginal surf. That thing is 5’3 x 21.5” x 2.5” for me. Favorite breaks off the top of my head would be Santa Teresa in Mal Pais CR, Maderas, Nicaragua, reefs between PB point & south bird, La Jolla, Sunset Cliffs.
Corey: What do you love about being a surfboard shaper?
Dan: Right now, my favorite thing is working with my friends and having a lot of freedom to do what I want when I want. Not being locked into the 9-5 grid.
Article: Solid Surfboards – meet Dan O’Hara, the man behind the dust mask.