Jennifer Savage
Environmental Advocate/Surfer/Writer

Sacred Craft Board Art Benefit comes to Del Mar this weekend.

From a surfer’s perspective, no wave is born perfect. Various forces – wind, geography, tide – combine to forge that iconic curl that sets hearts racing. Add the fact that different surfers subscribe to varying ideals. One person envisions perfection as double-overhead pitching barrels, while another hopes for shoulder-high and playful. Some waves serve as launch ramps for taking flight, others offer up a canvas for graceful lines.

Similarly, surfboards aren’t one-size-fits-all. Neither is art. But at the Sacred Craft Surfboard Expo’ Board Art Benefit, Saturday, Oct. 8 and Sunday, Oct. 9 at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, surfboard shapers and artists will focus on combining functionality and aesthetics to create something close to perfection. Event organizer Matt Beard explained, “The surfboard is the tangible object through which the intangible joy of surfing is channeled.” Hence, the “sacred craft” of shaping such objects. Proceeds from the boards benefit SurfAid International, a non-profit humanitarian organization whose aim is to improve the lives of people living in isolated regions that also serve as surf destinations.

Plenty of people paint on surfboards, but pulling this many shapers and artists together for a one-time unique creation experience offers a new twist. For Beard, an accomplished surfer and artist based in Northern California, what began as a simple idea took two giant leaps into reality when one of surfing’s leading artists, Phil Roberts, enthusiastically agreed not only to participate, but brought surf legend Gerry Lopez along as the other half of the artist-shaper partnership. Within days, the list of participants included not only Roberts and Lopez, but Rick Rietveld, Drew Brophy, Tyler Warren, Jed Noll and a host of others. With such heavy-hitters on board, the Board Art Beneft went from being “just an idea,” Beard said, “to a full-fledged event with an all-star cast.” Soon, almost all the artists involved announced partnerships with some of surfing’s greatest shapers.

“At that point, the Board Art Benefit was no longer just an art event, but something that stood poised to deliver not only great art and great boards, but something far more than the sum of those parts,” Beard said. “A handshaped board from Gerry Lopez is valuable, an orignal painting from Phil Roberts is perhaps even more valuable, but having them both together? That makes it so much more unique and compelling.”

About the participants:

Winning the Pipe Masters. Consider the partnership between artist Phil Roberts and legendary surfer, shaper and Pipe Master himself, Gerry Lopez. Roberts is a prolific artist whose work hangs in the homes of collectors all over the world. Lopez has been making surfboards for decades, and so respected is his knowledge that today his hand-shaped boards sell for double-to-triple their standard market value. Prior to this event they have made three boards together, which now belong to Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow and Jeremy Flores, the last three consecutive Pipe Masters. Those less likely to win the Pipeline Masters will now have a chance to purchase a board by Roberts and Lopez.

El Segundo.  From the seedy underside of the Los Angeles coastline comes the perfect pairing of artist Damian Fulton and shaper Tyler Hatzikian. Hatzikian is revered for his fearless approach to the hammering surf of urban L.A. Fulton’s artwork is a window to the underbelly of this world, lined with a surf stoke that reflects the human capacity to cope with adversity.

Maui and Son of a Living Legend. The iconic artwork of Rick Rietveld propelled Maui and Sons into prominence throughout the 1980s. Rietveld is still going strong and creating some of the most powerful works in his awe-inspiring career as an artist. Jed Noll, the son of surfing’s living legend Greg Noll, will be creating Rick’s board for the event. Greg Noll was a pioneer of the surfboard-centric surf industry that Sacred Craft is celebrating. Both Jed Noll and Rietveld are renowned for their respective expertise and flawless craftsmanship in all that they do.

Humboldt. Event organizer and artist Matt Beard is partnering with Yohei Shiraishi of Taiyo Surfboards, one of Humboldt County’s prominent board builders who melds a craftsman’s approach with a forward thinking emphasis on using local materials.That means not relying on poly-anything, just real wood making up Shiraishi’s hand-built hollow boards. Well known for his timeless renditions of the northern coast of California, Beard hopes to render a piece for this event that would have even the most cold-loathing Hawaiians scrambling for their 5-mils.

The full list of Board Art Benefit artists & shapers:

Phil Roberts & Gerry Lopez
Rick Rietveld & Jed Noll
Damian Fulton & Tyler Hatzikian
Erik Abel & Robert Weiner
Wade Koniakowsky & Mike Hynson
Spencer Reynolds & Jeff “Doc” Lausch
Matt Beard & Yohei Shiraishi
Robb Havassy & Rusty Preisendorfer
Drew Brophy & Ron House
Heather Ritts & Firewire
Tyler Warren & Firewire
Ron Croci & John Birchim
Norm Daniels & Firewire

You can find more information about the Board Art Benefit online at www.boardartbenefit.com.
You can find more information about the Sacred Craft Surf Expo online at www.sacredcraftexpo.com.
You can find more information about the SurfAid International online at www.surfaidinternational.org.