By Henry Lelot

Have you ever heard of a magical board? It’s what we usually say when we get that special board the shaper managed to do just perfect. Then the shaper tries to make an exact replica…but he just couldn’t do it…ever! In Surfing for quite some time we heard this complaint over and over again.

Some decades ago shaping was pure art, where each board was a result of pure feeling…and few measures. I learned to shape at the Natural Progression Surf Factory, a big board manufacturer in California in the ‘80s. Back then, making boards was really pure art…few measures and basically shaping was based on the ‘eyemeter’.

However, in this new millennium shaping has been transformed in terms of engineering, where exact science like math rules. I’ve already thought about stopping shaping many times because I couldn’t make an exact replica of a board. The client said: ‘cool but…it’s not like the other, it’s different.’ And that was a frustrating, seemed like I was not in control of my work, the thing I know best. I couldn’t forsee how the board would behave in the water.

It’s strange to hear someone say that the board wasn’t as he or she expected, or the way I predicted. Maybe that was what led me to search for some way to obtain some more control. And that was what I looked for when I added more measurement points.

Until recently only 10 or so measures were used: size, tail, outline width, volume. I then started to add more points where you can measure…from 10 to 20 points, then to 30 and so on. However that feeling of lack of control persisted. I had an insight and tested 20 or more points along the board, trying to control the length, volume and shape of the rails.

I began my professional career in 1985 while in California. In 1992 I created CDS- Computer Design System- a revolutionary precise method in shaping. In 1993 I pioneered the Shaper Scholarship Course, tutoring those interesting in shaping using the computer. In the last decade I’ve shared this way of shaping to more than 600 shapers in Brazil and abroad.

Known as a pioneer, my views are considered one of the most influential shapers in computerized shaping in Brazil and one the most cooperating person in the Brazilian Surf Media. By the 1997 at a CT event in Brazil, Aussie Mark Occhiluppo made an historical final against Kelly Slater using a Lelot surfboard. Since then several top surfers from around the world like Andy Irons, Bruce, Parko and Slater himself, became test pilots for my surfboards when they were in Brazil.

Most of the best Brazilian surfers have also tested my boards. With that in mind I have been betting on the new young surfers like 19 year old brasilian surfer Patrick Tamberg (title inset getting air) to Fernando de Noronha who is considered one of the most talented of the new generation of Brazilian surfer.