SHAPERS CORNER: WITH TENERIFE'S TAZ YASSIN
17-year-old Canary Island native and globe-trotting raft builder on getting an early start in life and the surf industry.
17, no fixed abode.
What’s your shaping story?
I started working with surfboards on my native island of Tenerife, repairing boards when I was 8 years old using sun-cure resin and some cut up socks as patches of fibre. But I didn’t shape my first board until I was about 12. Then, once I’d shaped a few boards I got the privilege to meet Johnny Cabianca in the Pukas factory, and got a bit of further insight into how different parts of a surfboard interacted with different parts of the wave... Since then I’ve just worked at it a lot.
How many boards have you done?
So far I’ve shaped around 500 to 600 boards, for people all around the world, from California to Australia to Europe.
Board building is the only thing I’ve ever been able to do properly in my life. When someone calls me up and is like, ‘That’s the best board I’ve ever ridden’, it just makes my day. It’s like, ‘OK, I can do something’ haha... It’s also just a really cool thing to be a part of an industry that represents your lifestyle. I could sit here for hours listing reasons why it attracts me, but the truth is shaping just feels right. When I shape a surfboard it just feels like it’s what I’m meant to be doing.
Where have you shaped?
I’ve spent time in Oz working at Diverse surfboards, in California taking part in the ‘Icons of Foam shape-off’ against shapers like Pat Rawson, John Pyzel, Reno Abellira etc... and working for Mayhem and Timmy Patterson. Around Europe I’ve shaped in factories like Nexo and Pukas... Basically, it’s one of those deals where you have to be comfortable living out of a suitcase for 9 or 10 months out of the year.
Do crew really want a board shaped by a ‘kid’?
When I first started making boards people were obviously a bit sketchy ordering, because they didn’t think a kid would be able to make craft that worked... But word gets around quickly, once you make a board for someone with a bit of a reputation as a good surfer, and he likes it, the news spreads. Before I knew it I had some of the big surfboard manufacturers asking me to work with them.
Who are the best shapers out there?
I guess every shaper has their strengths, I mean some shapers have very big talent but don’t have the ability to market themselves well enough, whereas others may not be as talented but market themselves like hell. But if I had to choose, I’d say my favourite shapers right now are Tim Patterson, Matt ‘Mayhem’ Biolos and Johnny Cabianca, for both their skills and their attitude towards shaping.
Gonna give up any secrets?
I’d say that the most important part of a surfboard are the shadow lines that the shaper draws when shaping it with his tools, the more connected, clean, continuous and well balanced they are, the better the board will go. Most people tend to think that symmetry and tail shapes are the most influential parts in a surfboard, but the truth is that a board can be as symmetric as you want and it can have as many fancy tail shapes as you’d want, but if the lines aren’t well balanced by the design, and the shaper doesn’t have the ability to draw them correctly, then the board just isn’t going to work.