Blane Chambers: Shaper and Designer

Shaper/Designer Blane Chambers SUP surfs every chance he gets. In the last 6 years a paddle was in his hand every session. HE DOES ALL STAND UP. Committed and stoked, he likes to design better boards and surf them daily. Being able to design for PSH allows him to make boards that rip for others. Blane is stoked to be on the cutting edge of SUP surfing design.

Interview by Nate Burgoyne from SUPSURFMAG.COM

We had the pleasure of interviewing Blane Chambers of Paddle Surf Hawaii and are bringing it to you here on SUPSURFMAG.COM. It has been an awesome experience getting to know Blane and to have some of that contagious stoke rub off on us. Blane, thanks for fueling the stoke that we can’t get enough of.

SUPSURFMAG: What is Paddle Surf Hawaii?

BLANE: PSH is the first company in the world dedicated to the sole mission of building awesome quality SUP boards. No regular surfboards, just SUP boards. Our main goal is to build boards that blow minds and stoke people out whether they are beginners or a pro level surfer.

SUPSURFMAG: Where, when, and how did it all begin?

BLANE: I grew up in the ocean body surfing, then boogie boarding, and of course surfing. I was also racing motocross a lot when I was younger. I took a break from surfing around 10 years or so, and was just surfing off and on, but mostly spent that time riding trails on a motorcyle pretty hard core.

Eventually, I came back to surfing and started shaping regular longboards at home in Wahiawa. I started paddling stand up on the North Shore a few years ago on a 12’ Mickey Munoz board. So [at the time], I was body surfing, regular lay down surfing, as well as stand up and knee paddle surfing with my one man canoe paddle. I really liked surfing with the canoe paddle, and eventually gave up arm paddle surfing all together by Sept 2005 totally hooked on SUP surfing.

I shaped my first SUP board before Clark foam shut down. It started with that big 12-8 blank. I remember feeling like I walked for miles around and around that thing, which barely fit in my shaping room. I shaped a 12’ x 28″ x 5″ thick monster. Otis Shaper glassed it for me and it was beautiful. However, it was so heavy and not nearly as responsive as my Munoz. I surfed it a few times then sold it. That’s when I started making a bunch of prototypes, some good, and some horribly bad.

In Feb, 2006 I ordered 2 custom 10’-6″ boards from Dave Parmenter. I thought that once I got a couple of his boards I wouldn’t need to shape anymore of my own. It was such a pain to shape them. I just wanted to surf them. At the time, Dave’s glassing situation was known to be backed up so I figured in the meantime I’d keep shaping my own ’till I got his customs so that I could at least surf something.

I made a really fun 9’-3″ board, and then, I became really fanatical about shaping them well, and I made a new one almost every other week. I glassed them myself, surfed them, then I was back in the shaping room mowing out another, keeping notes the whole way. This went on for a few months, then people started wanting to buy my prototypes. I was surprised. Some of them looked so bad! They did work though.

stand up paddle shaping roomBy the summer of 2006, I was doing so many boards that I decided to open Paddle Surf Hawaii as a hobby that could help pay for my addiction to building better SUP boards. By the time I got my 2 custom Parmenters, the Paddle Surf Hawaii label was already an established company in the market place, and Parmenter was shaping under our label. One day I was mowing out boards, and the next Dave is calling to shape with me. Things seemed to happen so fast. Dave has since moved on to help Brian Keaulana with C4 Waterman’s boards. It’s all good between us. Dave and Brian are great people. I’m stoked they are doing well.

At the time I started PSH I never really thought about being where we are today. It’s kinda surreal. PSH is the first company to focus solely on SUP boards right out of Wahiawa, Hawaii.

SUPSURFMAG: What does Paddle Surf Hawaii offer to stand up paddle surfers that no one else can?

BLANE: I guess anyone can offer what we do if they spent the amount of time we do focused on SUP board design. I think we (PSH) are different because we like to push the limits daily; and I’m not willing to settle on any design. Better is always better in my opinion and I know I can make things better. Being conservative is way to easy; so, we are into going for it. PSH offers designs based on state of the art SUP surfing.

We are out there everyday and focus 100% of our time on SUP boards. The results show in the stoke of our customers and team riders. The list of expert level surfers riding our boards is pretty long… The feedback we get from these guys and girls goes directly into boards we sell. We offer novice level boards as well as expert level boards. The bottom line is this; SUP surfing and board building is all we do. 100% focus on SUP surfing and paddling.

SUPSURFMAG: The photos don’t lie. We see your guys getting barrelled at Pipe, etc…Without giving away trade secrets, tell us little about board design? Are you pulling your shapes from schools of longboards, tandems, shortboards, or something else?

BLANE: I started off shaping the boards like bigger longboards. They sucked. I hated the way they surfed so stiff and slow. I evolved into things by surfing my prototypes daily. I have a lot of things in my designs now that are so far away from longboards, shortboards, other shapers SUP boards etc. Maybe a little bits of this and that but mostly a blend of what we know gets good results. Rockers, foils, thickness distribution, outlines are all key elements that need to blend together to make a board work a certain way AND STILL BE A STABLE PADDLER.

Biggest mistake shapers that do not SUP surf themselves make, is they cannot blend the 2 most important things. Stability and surfability. They either get one or the other and sometimes neither. A good SUP board must be a stable, efficient paddler. What good is it if you cannot stand on it? Heck if surfing was the only important factor then I’d be SUP surfing on a 5’-10″ shortboard. On the other hand, its no fun to surf a stiff, poor handling design… Nice paddler and great surfer… Our focus is on the best of both worlds. I find it amusing when a shaper who has never done SUP feels the need to give advice on designs.

SUPSURFMAG: On a personal note, everyone always wonders what the shaper is riding. What are you riding these days?

BLANE: I ride a variety of boards. I like to test things out all the time. In the last 2 weeks I rode a 12’ downwind board, a 10’-3″ pop out, a 10’ production hand glassed glider, a 9’-1″ Ripper, a 9’-6″ Ripper and a 10’ Gun. We have so many different designs and I’ve ridden all of them. I have hundreds of files and templates for SUP boards. I know how every board feels because of the testing process we do… I like testing them. I have my favorites.

SUPSURFMAG: And if you had to pull one board off the rack to ride all winter, what would it be? Why?

BLANE: This is a tough one to answer. I love so many types of boards but if I had to choose, it would be one of my Ripper models. I’m 175 lbs and those boards work insane. By far the fastest, most rippable designs I ever made. You can ride them in tiny waves to. I don’t even know how big they would work up to. Bigger than I would go out for sure. They’re so fast. You can pump them in the barrel and do such clean snaps. Mellow waves, hollow waves, whatever. They even nose ride pretty decent. These boards are versatile and every time I ride one I have at least one wave where I think wow, I’ve never done that before.

SUPSURFMAG: What does Paddle Surf Hawaii have in store for the future?

BLANE: Same plan as day one. Build the best boards we can that are state of the art to help people elevate their performance levels… Another thing is we finally have boards to sell on a larger scale than just customs to friends and team riders. Shops all over the country will (Eventually) have the opportunity to carry our stuff.

SUPSURFMAG: People often ask, “What is it about stand up paddle surfing that makes it so great?” How do you answer that question when other surfers ask you that when you’re out in the water?

BLANE: For me it’s by far the most enjoyable thing I’ve ever done. I lost over 40 lbs when I started. I like the fact that just paddling out and trying to stay balanced going over whitewater etc takes your complete attention. From the time you leave the beach the focus level on the task at hand is 100%.

If you’re just paddling around flat water then maybe the attention is not as intense but the scenery grabs you… All the things to look at both in the water and out from the standing perspective is awesome. You don’t need to have waves to challenge yourself… You can just paddle around then do a kick turn and it’s a challenge. Cool to always be checking out the sites too… It’s an amazing workout that isn’t a boring grind like the gym.

SUPSURFMAG: What advice can you give for someone just starting out?

BLANE: Make sure you know how to swim. However far out you go you should be able to swim that far in if needed. Best thing to do is just paddle around in flat, calm water. Stay away from the surf. When you build up your muscles and you have skills to maneuver the board around while paddling only then should you attempt to surf, go to a spot where no one is near you.

Always remember the safety of yourself and others. I always have hard headed people that go straight into the surf and struggle. They get humbled real quick. Paddle, paddle, paddle in flat, calm water. It’s the best thing by far. Be patient and paddle hard, it will come to you. Stay away from the surf till you are a good paddler. Don’t buy a massive board unless you’re a really big person. The novice SUP surfer on a massive board in the surf with others is the number one most dangerous aspect of SUP surfing. All these shops selling massive boards to hurry people into the surf because of the stability is a big mistake if you ask me. Paddle flat, calm water on the right board till you’re ready for surfing and no sooner is the safest best way to go.

SUPSURFMAG: In your opinion, where is stand up paddle surfing headed?

BLANE: Companies like Paddle Core Fitness will be teaching people how to get and stay healthy with their unreal concepts on using the SUP boards for training in flat water. Top level athletes etc will use SUP training for their workouts. Its going to be mainstream in every body of water. Lakes, rivers, ponds, canals etc.

Out in the surf, you’ll see more and more people ripping. Not just wiggle waggle but full carving moves with style. More tube riding in critical waves. More giant wave riding. More stylish nose riding… Just a much higher level of great surfing in general than what you are seeing now. Its progressing fast. You’ll be seeing plenty top level known surfers getting way into it. I just spent a few days talking and surfing with Tom Carroll. He’s like a kid so stoked on SUP. Gerry Lopez is another one who lights up when talking about it and how fun it is. I won’t go into names but there are plenty well known surfers already deeply committed to SUP surfing.

SUPSURFMAG: If there was one message that you could send out to sup surfers here in the Hawaiian Islands what would that be?

BLANE: Surf with Aloha. Be aware of what you are doing and how you are impacting the lineup you’re in. Sit out a few sets. Sit down between sets. Relax. Don’t be the jerk wave hog.

SUPSURFMAG: If there was one message that you could send out to sup surfers world wide what would that be?

BLANE: Same as above… Don’t be a wave hog. Surf with Aloha.

SUPSURFMAG: What else would you like to tell us about Paddle Surf Hawaii?

BLANE: Galen Miura, Austin Yonehiro and Duane Caringer need to be mentioned for their hard work and commitment to the company. I’d like to thank my wife and kids for being so supportive. Also all our friends and family for the words of encouragement. The vendors and suppliers that are cool to work with. Most of all, the unreal customers who are so stoked and been very supportive. No customers, no company. I love getting the call saying how stoked they are on our boards. I love stoking people out.

SUPSURFMAG: Will you keep us posted on the latest from Paddle Surf Hawaii?

BLANE: Of course.

SUPSURFMAG: Where can people get more info about Paddle Surf Hawaii’s mission and surfboards?