Shaping is an art form.
Surfing is an ever growing populous. In an industry increasingly headed mainstream, the words art and artist are married with anybody who owns a paintpen or wildly strums a few guitar strings. The marketability of doing “something different” is popular in the current surf culture, an over crowded genre with more participants in each fleeting social media blitz.
I’d argue the act of surfing in itself is an art form. Each line we choose to draw as unique as our thumb prints. We can agree on the greats, and observe the potential of the youth. The push and pull of thoughts from the beach come and go as the tides. Who’s depicted the best rendering before your eyes on that last set? What were they riding?
“Nice board!” Kevin exclaims as Cooper dries her off at the Stone residence, post surf.
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” Nick beamed as he watches Reilly and John’s delight in inspecting such a fresh specimen.
We’re standing just up the street of 38th Street at John Stone’s place after an evening go in Santa Cruz. His son Reilly, and Reilly’s best bud Cooper White, are joined by Kevin Miske. The bevy recall the waves for Nick. Sunny and jammed, they maneuvered the thick surfer colony with ease. Kevin’s drop knee style begging the youth into remembrance of style’s importance in wave riding. Cooper’s high spirits and willingness allowed him to find the nose, sleuthing plenty of hip-high peelers.
Reilly is diligently performing his post surf rituals, as the rest of us shoot the shit: drying and packing his board away with the family quiver. He readies to shower. Despite peak tourist season in the NorCal mecca that Santa Cruz is, the kid found plenty of opportunity to turn heads. Though, he didn’t notice.
The next day we awake to a heavy dose of marine layer and barely give the waves a second look. Reilly surfs for 45mins, just to scratch the itch. We pile into Nick’s van as we head over to the West Side. An irie jam permeates the air that I can’t quite place. Nick slows the van so we can watch a few waves come through The Lane before motoring further up the road.
“Mitchell’s Cove was a great spot,” Nick explains as we cruise towards the Santa Cruz Board Builder’s Guild. I’m riding shotgun and Reilly wedges his lanky frame amid the freshly shaped boards we’re dropping off to be glassed. As we rumble down the road the boards gently rub, sounding like markers on a dry erase board.
“I spent plenty of years in the water up here. It was one of those deals where you get into work early, work and lunch break you grab a surfboard and you just go surf out here.” Nick brings me through his early career in setting and chronology. Under the tutelage of the late Mike Walsh, a legendary glasser, Palandrani learned how to build a surfboard. With Walsh’s guidance, Nick honed the art of glassing, shaping, polishing, sanding… everything. Walsh instilled a fundamental foundation of learning with in Palandrani, of with clearly remains with him today.
Building boards for the house shop at SCBBG, Nick credits his start. Determination and attention to detail in Nick’s own, Source Surfboards, was most definitely born from the early days in his career. A family oriented man possessing the will to create the very best. It’s easy to identify his drive. His work ethic is of the highest caliber, though to describe him as possessing a “great work ethic” is far too square a statement.
I arrive to Source’s shaping room to find Thomas Bischoff watching Nick finish off his board. Relaxed I snap a few photos while the two rap about board design. Thomas is in tune with the boards under his feet and Nick listens. This shaper and rider combo is often seen, in the case of Source Surfboards, Nick’s relationships with the guys riding his boards is felt. As Nick explained to to me, his boards are hand shaped by the one and only. So he’s not cranking out thousands a year in hopes of blanketing the wavescape with his vessels. The time and energy he injects into each shape grounds his solid NorCal company planted in Santa Cruz.
Source Surfboards are on par with the West Coast movement many envy on the East Coast. Locally procured and made by members of community. Nick’s reach is international but his home is Santa Cruz. His children surf there, his friends are there. Nick’s grown up here and now is contributing to the rich history that future generations will look upon.
The movement of experimental surfboards feign a guile sense of surfboard exploration. In fact, many of the experimental boards just don’t work well in Santa Cruz surf. The faction of shapers who distinguish themselves while still remaining relevant are revered, and rightly so, for their craftsmanship and knowledge. They aren’t just churning out chunks of foam. Having the right board under your frame makes all difference in the Ocean. As a creator, putting your boards under the right feet is the collaborative effort that provides both maker and user with a slam dunk when ordering a custom shape. The most successful experimentation while making surfboards is felt rather than seen. Our shapers, the ultimate curators. Nick isn’t building boards to flow with the mainstream. He’s staying true to his roots in building the very best board he can, structured with attention and strung with pride. Source Surfboards are steeped in customer satisfaction and Nick’s relish is joy in those riding his work.