Quiet Flight Shaper: Bruce Ragan
Year started shaping: 1983 Boards shaped: 50,000
What’s your shaping philosophy? My shaping philosophy is simple: make the board to fit the customer’s body type and ability. I also take into consideration the wave type and location. Do they need a groveler or big-wave board?
What led you to become a shaper? I started polishing boards at Ocean Image in the early ’80s—glossing and polishing eight a day. Then started finish-sanding for Jeff Haney. Learned to shape there and started at QF over 20 years ago. Been shaping shortboards to longboards and everything in between since.
Who is your biggest shaping influence? My latest influence comes from C.J. Hobgood. He tells me what he likes about each board. It helps me see what the best shapers from around the world are doing and I try use that as a starting point for boards I’m shaping for him.
What do you consider your expertise? I’ve made boards for many pros and a ton of amateurs. These guys and gals travel around the world and surf in all kinds of conditions. Having that feedback enables me to understand what works locally and internationally.
What are your most popular models? The Hot Rod, Platypus, Summer Squash, and Stingfish. All these models work great in small to overhead surf.
What makes your boards different? Each shaper has their own little tweaks they do. Rails, rockers, bottom contours, and fin placements all make a board unique.
How does your location influence your shaping? Florida is different. You have to make boards that can generate their own speed. Waves here aren’t as powerful as in, say, Hawaii. Some of the world’s best surfers have hailed from this area.
What advice would you give to customers to help them get the best board possible? The first question you need to ask is, “Are you a beginner, intermediate, or advanced surfer?” Then, their body type (height, weight, etc.) followed by what type surf they would be riding.
What’s the biggest lesson learned in your shaping career? Listen to the customer and make suggestions. Point them in a direction, but let them make up their own mind. Don’t assume that you or they know everything there is about a surfboard. Every board I shape is a new lesson learned.