Ryan Lovelace Interview

photo by Chris Delorenzo


What’s your passion?

What is your dream job that you want to do the rest of your life?

It doesn’t take much to get someone hooked into surfing. Just that one wave can change your whole outlook on life and dedicate the rest of your life to surfing.

For surfboard shaper Ryan Lovelace that’s what happened and when he couldn’t afford to buy new boards he started to shape surfboards for himself. From there he started shaping for a couple friends and it just all grew and now he shapes for his own label “Ryan Lovelace Surfcraft”. He doesn’t shape your standard surfboards, he’s more into alternative shapes from finless, twin‐fins, to single‐fins. He is heavily influenced by shapes of the past but trying to make them better using today’s techniques and theories. If you were interested in riding different types of boards, read this interview and you can hear Ryan’s views on shaping and life.

Film from SURFER Magazine

Who are you and where are you currently right now?

I’m a surfboard shaper, proud father of a wonderful dog, surfer, and I am currently in my living room on a sunny day, on a hill above Rincon point.

When did you start surfing and how did you get involved in shaping surfboards?

I started surfing when I was young, but only one or two times a year at most. It was always too far away from me, growing up in Seattle. I was obsessed with it, since my father and uncle were both surfers, but I couldn’t really be a ‘surfer’ until I moved to California for college when I was 18. I really wanted to try different board designs, and began building my own boards when I couldn’t afford to buy obscure and hard to find designs.

New board shaped by Ryan Lovelace. Photo by unknown

I noticed at the beginning you shaped a lot of Displacement Hull surfboards. A lot of Taiwanese do not know what a Displacement Hull board is. Could you explain the design a little for them?

Displacement hulls were born from Gregg Liddle in the late 60’s and 70’s. They are very specific designs, and can teach you a lot about surfing and subtle control. You need a good wave to surf them, and ideally it should be long. They offer a smooth, long bottom turn, and unmatched trim speed. The limitations of the design though will always be its inability to do a cutback with ease, and it is very ineffective to ride if the waves are not at their best. You can still have a whole lot of fun, and find small sensations that are great, but the shapes are limited to what the conditions can offer, which is why I started experimenting and altering the design heavily, to be able to have the same sensations in a more all­around package.

What are some recent designs that you have been working on?

It seems to always be changing, which I love, but really my heart lies with the v.Bowls, Rabbitsfoot, and Soopersnake. They each ask me to use a different part of myself to understand them, and force my curiosity of surfboard design to be well rounded and always open­minded.

New board shaped by Ryan Lovelace. Photo by unknown

All your boards you do from start to finish. How come you do that?

It must be a very long and tiring process for you especially with some many orders coming your way.For the past 9 years now I have tried to make every board start to finish; it is extremely difficult and tiring, but ultimately very satisfying to both myself and the customer. In the past year I have stopped glassing everything myself though, realizing that if my desire was to be a boutique shaper, and make only a few boards, that I could raise my prices a lot and keep doing it that way; or alternatively, if I want to spread my designs more, and show people a different way of approaching a wave, without spending $1000 on a new board, I would let go of some glassing work and focus on getting boards to people with a reasonable price, in a reasonable time­frame.  If I ask myself who I would rather have owning my boards, only wealthy men, or excited high school kids and all kinds of surfers, I will choose the kids and surfers every time!

What are your views on hand shaped surfboards vs. machine shaped surfboards.

One thing I will not change is that I hand shape my boards. I have no interest in machine shaping a board honestly. It is a good tool for reproduction of a design, but it is only a good tool if one is un­interested in asking more of themselves, or looking for a higher standard. I want that of myself, and I do my best to use my body and mind as much as possible ­ I hope that in that pursuit, I will find my greatest satisfaction over my lifetime.

Photo by unknown

Who are some of the surfers you work closely with on design theories and concepts and how has that helped you improve your surfboards?

There are many, many people, but to name a few of the most helpful; Trevor Gordon, Ryan Burch, Connor Lyon, Kyle Lightner, Simon Murdoch, Ari Browne.

What’s the importance of the surfer/shaper relationship?

I think it is everything ­ a shaper doesn’t often time have enough time to explore every shape in every condition he would like, and it is always best to have someone better than yourself test what you believe works. I am a fine surfer, but my limitations are much more than the surfers that I work with, and with their experience and my understanding of shapes and design, we can together create something much more than we could alone.

Ari Browne with Rabbitsfoot. Photo by Tom Hawkins

Can you tell us a little about the Santa Barbara surf community?

It is very close­knit, and unique. There is deep history here, and a lot of protection of it as well. The generation that changed surfing forever (Greenough and friends) are still here, and still connected, and they are held in very high regard. Santa Barbara enjoys its older traditions, and it’s uniqueness within California’s geography, and it strives to always be its own.

What meaning does surfing hold for you and how has it changed your life?

It has given me everything! My friends and my profession. It has asked me to know and learn more about life and about the world. It has offered me opportunities to travel the world that I would have never dreamed. I could never ask for more than I have been given, my duty is to take what I find, and use it in a responsible, and positive direction.

Photo by Colden

Where is your favorite surf spot?

Thats a secret 😉 but it was firing last week!!

Other than surfing what else do you do? (i.e. hobbies, business…)

Scratch my dog, Herbie and very little else ­ my work consumes my entire life, and I hope that in time I will be able to shed that a little bit, but for now, as I learn this all and continue to develop, it consumes my focus.

photo by Ryan Heywood

Fabric Inlay Photo by Chris Delorenzo

Can you tell us your current surfboard quiver and which board you have been riding recently?

I really don’t know how many boards i own, maybe around 20 or 30? From kneeboards, to a 9’6 big wave gun I just got from my young friend Connor, who I taught to shape a few years ago (what an honor to own a board from a friend!), longboards and shortboards, bonzers, quads, singlefins, my yard is covered in surfboards! I always ride my 7’6 v.bowls though; I find no greater joy than a good wave with that board!

What can we expect to see more from you in the future?

There are a few plans in the works for the next year, but right now I am about to begin traveling for the summer ­ I’ll shape in Portugal, France, Ireland, Australia, and the east coast of the US between now (I leave tonight!) and September.

Ryan Lovelace links:





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