SB: As you know, each year we honor a legendary surfboard craftsman, in the Icons of Foam Tribute to the Masters. We did our first tribute at the Sacred Craft show in 2007. Now, same show different name, the Boardroom International Surfboard Show presented by US Blanks — in both the USA and in Tokyo, Japan. You, Pat Rawson, are the honoree this year; you are the 2020 Icon of Foam. Thank you so much for being involved. We’re super excited to honor you this year.
Pat Rawson: Thank you for honoring me. I’m pretty stoked.
SB: You won the Icons of Foam shape-off when we honored Dick Brewer back in 2009. So maybe tell me a little bit about what that experience was like for you as a shaper, competing, as you honored Dick Brewer.
PR: Well, I’m not a very fast shaper. It was scary. That’s the first thing, and there were a lot of good shapers, and a lot of judges. I think we had as many judges as we had competitors. I think that shape-off was probably the Holy Grail for me, if I was going to compete and win one. I really wanted to win that one because Dick’s been my teacher. I mean we have good history together. We are friends and I learned so much from him about guns and about shaping. Yeah, like what to do, and I will say this with a smile, what not to do. Yeah, each one of us passes something on to the next guy and I was lucky in the early seventies to have that relationship with him and RB is the best shaper ever, in history. I think, as least that’s my opinion
SB: I know you work with a lot of different materials. What is your opinion on EPS versus Polyurethane or other foams that are out there like XTR extruded foam?
Pat Rawson: Well, alright, so I mean honestly, if you’re a guy who surfs in conditions with a lot of chatter, surface bumps, some of my guys tell me that EPS makes a lot of noise and doesn’t absorb or dampen. On the other hand, I know people and I’ll just mention Kai Lenny just because I have a good run with him. He’s a great kid and he really likes EPS and so I think it comes down to the customer. I learned how to make EPS so that it can flex like a poly. I’ve made 22-pound boards for Jaws out of blanks and that only weighed 2 pounds, and we did certain things, stringer combos and such. They’re amazing. Yeah, but some surfers really enjoy the dampening of poly, and I would say it’s like playing a stock piano with a damper pedal. The damper pedal smooths it out. So the chords hold near the resonance of the piano. Then you’re playing like say a synthesizer, and it’s rata tata tata tata, like a machine gun. Yeah, you have to use both of them I think and it just gets down to your personal preference. They’re all great. Then there’s XTR — extruded. You know, when I worked with Matt (Biolos) at Lost, they were making, and they still are making boards with Javier, I think. But I don’t have much experience with it. I don’t know too much. I made a couple when I was at Matt’s because people wanted it and it’s obviously good… I think it’s just that some people wear blue shirts and some people like to wear black shirts.
SB: Surfers just like all kinds of different boards.
Pat Rawson: Well yeah. The guy who’s got the best collection of boards is definitely Paul Naude. Paul has a lot of Rawsons, and that makes me feel good. Paul has been a really good friend to me. I’m a big fan of his as well. He’s one of those guys that at the end of the day, when you take away all of the, you know the show, I guess, you know, at the end of the day Paul is a surfboard lover and it’s because I believe he built boards too. He is a really damn good surfer. He was on the IPS, the first pro tour, back in the mid-to-late 70s. I just think those kinds of surfers tend to be more of my customers, you know, people looking for a premium product because they know they’re going to get something they can count on. Maybe they’re going to Tavarua or they’re going somewhere ridiculous. They have probably a better chance of getting a good board because I keep the quality consistent, the shapes and designs are proven. And then I have my little trippy stuff that people get into it and that’s always good. That’s turned into a second creative outlet, like my Sniper and all my hybrids that you’re into. That was from hanging out with Larry Mabile and Skip Frye in San Diego. I was building a bunch of Fishes. Then Donovan was riding my boards and he got real into some esoteric stuff. “What about this one?” he would bring me a fish. So I would hand-shape the first one and then of course I went and got it scanned. It was like a rocket fishy kind of board. I think that part of the market is so interesting. I’d say it was probably about 2002… Tom Curren got his board from… I forget who it was in Australia, a Tommy Petersen? But it was about that Fish and that changed everything and then what happened? Well you know the rest. And now it’s turned to Kai Lenny and you know Kai is just a free-thinking kid. He’s got really good imagination. He’s one of the nicest guys on the planet ; he’s changing the game. Look at foiling?
SB: Have you given any thought as to which shapers you’re going to ask to be in your shape-off?
Pat Rawson: I already sorta know who I want to pick in my competition, but also want to get a shaper from each area, each region, so it’s very well represented, and I want to pick people that absolutely can win the thing. It’s hard because I want to pick people that mean a lot to me, that have done a lot of really good things to help me. I’m only picking one shaper out of Hawaii. I mean, obviously I’d pick Brewer, but he ain’t going to do it. I picked Bill Barnfield and I picked him for a lot of reasons, one was he really helped me a lot. Myself, Al Merrick, Rusty, Minami the list goes on and on, but right around 1977 or 1978 Barnfield was basically the guy. He took the keys from Tom Parrish and you know Billy’s just really one of those guys. He’s so into researching and, “just you look it up and prove me wrong” is one of his lines, you know, and we used to ride motorcycles together, him, Gerry Lopez, a couple of other guys. That’s why I picked Barnfield from Hawaii. I’m going to let my heart, you know, tell me what to do. And the other person I absolutely pick for sure and he’s already confirmed just like Barnfield is, will be Timmy Patterson. I want to pick guys that are really good at hand shaping and Timmy has contributed so much. He’s definitely one of my best friends here. All my sanding pads are made by him you know. He’s amazing. A very innovative tool maker and when you watch him shape, he’s just like this little elf dancing around… but Timmy’s the guy and I think he can win. I think Billy could win. The other people I have from different countries, you know, we have a shaper from Japan Tokuda –san. We have defending champion Ryan Burch, who’s an amazing shaper. Also I’ve included a dear friend from the East Coast Ricky Carroll, and state-of-the-art shaper Chris Christenson. So I mean that’s six legit shapers right there.