Sports | These Women Are Reshaping the Surfboard Industry |

Shaper Ashley Lloyd, in her Northern California shaping bay 

Gregg Segal

For decades, surfing – and the industry supporting it – has been largely male dominated. But with each rotation of the earth, more and more women are gravitating towards surfing. In fact, according to Surf Industry Members Association, 40% of surfers are women. And with the growing population of female surfers, comes a rise in female surfboard shapers.

We caught up with five incredible female shapers and learned how they got their start in shaping, what makes their boards unique, and what it’s like working in a male dominated industry.

Christine Caro: The San Diego Stylist

San Diego, California

Christine Caro’s journey to shaping was conceived in the surf history books. Inspired by the traditional Hawaiian craft she read about, Caro began making wood alaias, paipos, and wooden hand plans over a decade ago. Working on wooden surfboards allowed Caro to see outlines, foils, and concaves while getting comfortable with shaping tools. In 2011, Caro’s friend bought her a blank and asked her to shape a 6’0” stubbie.

“I remember thinking it turned out pretty good and my friend was stoked,” says Caro. “But I mostly remember the lightbulb moment feeling I had while shaping it. I was instantly hooked on shaping surfboards.”

“I shape my boards by hand, one board at a time, and take an artful approach to shaping and traditional board building.”

Through that first experience, Carol learned that foam was much softer and easier to work with than the wood boards she’d been making. She began saving money to buy blanks and continued shaping boards.

These days, Caro shares a shaping bay with her husband at Moonlight Glassing in San Diego, California. Her shapes are inspired by the shortboard revolution and transition-era shapes. She shapes everything, including fish, pintails, wing twin fins, arctails, stubbies, eggs, mid-lengths, and gliders with a focus on speed, trim, smooth cutbacks, and drawing clean lines.

“I shape my boards by hand, one board at a time, and take an artful approach to shaping and traditional board building,” says Caro. “I draw inspiration from many things but mostly from nature, natural forms, fluid dynamics, traditional boat displacement hull design, and wing designs of planes and birds.

Avalon Starick, in her element

Courtesy XO Coco

Avalon Starick: The Production Pro

Sunshine Coast, Australia

Once upon a time, Avalon Starick worked at the Album Surfboards Showroom Café, which was surrounded by numerous surfboard factories. Regularly exposed to shapers and board talk, she developed an interest in surfboard design and construction. After some nagging on her part, Starick convinced Gavin Upson of 1-DA surfboard to take her under his wing.

These days, Starick has a lot on her plate. She has her own brand, Avalon Designs, through which she is working on creating some of her own shapes and designs. But mainly, she works in production board building for Mitchell Surfman, Album Surfboards, and XO COCO.

“The idea is to try and create an inclusive surf brand that gives everyone equal opportunity throughout the design and construction process into surfing of the boards,” says Starick of the XO COCO line. “Coco [Ho] is so much fun to be around and to work with and I think the boards really reflect that.”

“The idea is to try and create an inclusive surf brand that gives everyone equal opportunity.”

Starick draws inspiration for her creations from her upbringing in a remote town in Tasmania, where she was surrounds by artistic, innovative, and supportive friends and family. Through them, she developed an appreciation for hand building skills and creating functional yet beautiful designs. Because there are so few women doing what Starick is doing, she takes great pride in her work.

“It’s a complex, challenging, rewarding, and multifaceted experience being a woman in the surf industry,” says Starick. “Being a woman in a male-dominated industry comes with its challenges: A constant feeling of having to prove I belong, that I can work just as hard as any guy, to navigating an all-male workplace and often all-male line up. However, with challenge comes great reward, and I love pushing the boundaries and surprising people.”

Lou Aitken: The Resin Artist

Matakana, New Zealand

Ever since Lou Aitken can remember, she’s always shown an interest in how things are made. Her background is in cabinet making, so working with her hands is second nature. When her uncle, who worked for 30+ years as a glasser, offered to help her shape a board, it was an easy ‘yes.’ After shaping that first board, Aitken was hooked.

“Having my uncle there to aid me in building my first board was a game changer for me,” says Aitken. “He was able to answer all my questions and his knowledge was priceless. The first board turned out great and I still have it today.”

“A surfboard should perform well but most customers also want the board to look good both in and out of the water.”

Today, Aitken shapes a wide array of boards. She makes everything from short to longboards, with a lot her orders being for custom, one-of-a-kind surfboards. But aside from her shapes, Aitken is known for her resin art.

“A surfboard should perform well but most customers also want the board to look good both in and out of the water,” says Aitken. “My resin swirls, spray work, and hybrid shapes seem to make my boards unique.”

Visually, Aitken draws inspiration from the late 80s and 2000s colors, sprays, and fades. She also draws bits of inspiration from everyone she meets, which helps keep her designs fresh and unique.

Looking forward, Aitken is currently building her own factory and is excited to have her own workspace. She’s also excited to continue building boards for people whose goal is to make the most out of every session.

Ashley Lloyd: The Sustainable Shaper

Santa Cruz, California

Ashely Lloyd grew up surfing alongside her brother in Malibu, California. When their boards got dinged, they would work together to repair them, but it wasn’t until age 21 that Lloyd shaped her first surfboard.

As Lloyd continued to shape boards, her perspective and knowledge of the world and her own personal health broadened, and she learned how detrimental shaping surfboards was to the environment. She was determined to make her boards as sustainable as possible and began experimenting with new materials.

Lloyd began using bio-based epoxy in place of conventional polyester resins, she replaced fiberglass layers with flax, and she started recycling her EPS foam blanks through Mako Foam. Today, Lloyd’s boards proudly carry the ECOBOARD verification from Sustainable Surf.

“For me, an eco-board is sustainable, strong, beautiful, and surfs well.”

“Every board I’ve ever made is special,” says Lloyd. “For me, an eco-board is sustainable, strong, beautiful, and surfs well—my customers have been really stoked and feel good riding an eco-board. We’re not zero percent waster, but I think we’re heading in the right direction.”

Lloyd currently resides in Santa Cruz, California but a lot her inspiration comes from the classic single fins she grew up riding in Malibu. As a result, Lloyd shapes mainly longboards and mid-lengths with the goal of creating quality boards with minimal impact on the environment.

“I see all of the boards I’ve made as a family tree,” says Lloyd. “You get these new leaves, but the branches and roots come back to a certain source of what you know as the stalk of the boards. The roots go unseen but they’re where you get all your cultural knowledge of surfing.”

Rachel Lord: The Spiritual Surfboard Guru

Ventura, California

Rachel Lord took an unusual path to becoming a shaper. During her art school years, she was obsessed with with foiling, but after a car accident, she decided it was time to shape a surfboard.

Her first board was a 5’4” Mini Simmons with red and yellow stripes on the bottom, faded blue spray on the deck, and a large eye with a wave in the iris. She named it the Bouncy Castle. From there, Lord began shaping fishes, eggs, gliders, and thrusters, but her specialty is longboards.

“I work out of my garage,” says Lord. “I shape anything and everything I think will work and some things that might not. I focus on function, speed, and glide.”

“I shape anything and everything I think will work and some things that might not. I focus on function, speed, and glide.”

Lord has her process, albeit unconventional by most standards, dialed in. She begins with the four bodhisattva vows to call in tranquility and the Buddha nature of the board to be. She turns on a playlist, sings aloud, and removes material in long passes and tiny circles which emulate the vortices of water. She carefully removes excess material, working it out of the entire foil from wide point to the nose or tail.

Lord is currently doing a shaping residency at Pilgrim Surf and Supply in New York City. Looking forward, she plans to continue shaping and she’s hopeful to find a benefactor sponsor to sponsor her bid for a kneeboard world title in August at Jefferey’s Bay.

 In a male-dominated arena, these five female shapers have firmly cemented their places in the shaping bay Features and Exposure, shapers, Surfboards, Ashley Lloyd Your Ultimate Destination for Beauty Products, Viral News, and Trendy Videos

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