Neil Toracinta is an up-and-coming shaper in a place where up-and-coming shapers are few and far between, coastal Rhode Island. While New England boasts both some incredible waves and a thriving surf scene, the tight-knit community of board builders is much smaller than, say, Southern California or Hawaii, making getting tools and supplies a more difficult prospect.
Last June, Toracinta took it upon himself to spearhead a crowdfunding campaign to get a CNC machine built, not only to speed up production for his own business but so other local shapers could take advantage of the technology.
“You know, all over New England there are plenty of carpenters and boat builders, and so there’s a ton of CNC machines, but none specifically for surfboards,” Toracinta told The Inertia. “Basically, it requires a really specific set up to be done properly. Lots of specific parts.”
“There was one here a while back, Shane Smith had it, but he moved down to Florida and brought his machine with him, so since then there hasn’t been anything for shapers around here to use,” he said.
Toracinta began shaping surfboards as part of a high school project. He went to college, then got a marketing job, but all the while shaped boards for himself and his friends as a hobby. At some point along the way, though, Toracinta hit a crossroads.
“It was either keep doing what I was doing, or follow my passion. So I just went for it,” he said. He founded his own label, Tora Surfboards, focused on building high quality mostly high-performance shapes.
In the Kickstarter video above, Toracinta explains that in recent years he’s grown the business to its effective plateau without the aid of technology given the pace of orders, and his ability to fill orders doing all the work by hand, hence the need for a CNC machine that could speed up production.
Toracinta’s forthright about his goals, in our conversation, “I want to use the machine primarily to grow my own business, but it’ll also become a tool for some of the established local guys to use for themselves, too.”
The support the Kickstarter campaign received speaks for itself, exceeding the $20 thousand goal by more than $7 thousand. Incentives for supporters also speak to the community aspect of this project. For the 24 backers that pledged $100 or more, they received $75 off a custom order, or three free machine cuts with the machine once it’s operational. The nine backers that pledged $500 or more got $250 off a custom order or 10 free machine cuts.
According to Toracinta, it won’t be long now until the machine is ready. “It’s being built now… and should be up and running by spring,” he said. “It’s a game changer.”
Learn more about Tora Surfboards on their website.