Riverbreak Magazine interview with Brian from Greenlight on River Surfboard Shaping
So, Greenlight Surf Supply is in the surfboard shaping business, what exactly do are you guys doing?
Greenlight was founded in 2005 with the vision of comprehensively teaching and continuing to support surfers who want to shape their own surfboards at home. Through our unmatched talents of engineering, manufacturing, education, and communication in the surfboard world, we provide top quality materials, tools, methods and support to make surfboard building easy, fun, and affordable. Being a DIY-focused company, we also design and build all of our machinery and processes to manufacture the products. DIY is in our DNA and we want to share the pride of the surfboard building process and the absolute stoke you feel when riding a board you designed and built for yourself and style.
What led you to found Greenlight Surf Supply? Tell us a bit about your story …
I couldn’t find what I wanted to ride on the racks at the surf shops so I started building my own boards in my garage. Materials were limited then so I glued up some insulation panels and glassed it with boat resin. Then I started developing EPS (expanded polystyrene) blanks and tools to make shaping foam easier. 13 years later and still having fun developing new products to make surfboards better.
Why should someone get a Greenlight kit in the first place instead of ordering a standard surfboard? What are the reasons to build ones own surfboard?
Other than the cost of a building kit is less than ½ of buying a board off the racks, the #1 reason our customers make their own surfboards is the feeling of pride and accomplishment provided by shaping my own boards. There’s nothing like the feeling of riding something you created.
What exactly is included in your surfboard kits? What else (tools, materials) is required to get started?
We offer an array of surfboard, SUP, wake, and riversurf kits. There are “starter” kits that include all the materials, tools, instruction, and friendly Greenlight support as well as basic material kits if you have the tools and knowledge already. We also make custom surfboard blanks per customer’s specifications and can package them in to a custom kit.
Shaping a surfboard is almost considered an art of its own. How much know-how and experience is required to shape a board? Can anyone do this? What kind of skills are needed?
No one expects you to do it all on your own. That’s why Greenlight Surf Supply continues to build and support an extensive educational online library of video and step-by-step instruction to comprehensively teach surfers of any age or ability how to design and build their own surfboards. Our education-based approach takes the mystery out of shaping and surfboards by providing an unprecedented level of instructional resources available to you online 24/7. The Greenlight brand is widely recognized in the surfboard building community as the most innovative, professional, and trustworthy source for materials, instruction, and service on the web.
How much time does it take to shape a board with a Greenlight kit?
You can shape a board in less than 4 hours and the fiberglassing process takes 4 days overall with the resin curing times. So you can build a new board in a week if you work on it about an hour a day.
How much flexibility do your kits provide? Some people may want to get creative, doing crazy tail shapes, asym shapes, different rockers, channels, bottom contours etc. Also, what about the artwork options?
One of the benefits of our Engineered EPS blanks is that they allow any shape up to 24” wide to be carved out of the foam. Rocker adjustments, channels, and concaves are easily shaped in and we can also cut close tolerance custom blanks to any shape a customer wants. The blanks can be painted with acrylic paints before glassing or resin tints and pigments can be added while fiberglassing to give your board color and style. We include custom ink jet logo paper to print your own logos and special paint pens to draw detailed graphics on your board too. Infinite possibilities in design…
Surfboard shaping can also be challenge … what could go wrong?
Bottom line – everything is fixable while building a board. The best board builders know how to hide the mistakes! Things will go wrong on your first board but understand those issues will come out later in the process and not affect the ride. The biggest mistake we’ve seen is a bad outline cut which makes the board look like it’s your first one. We have a library of outline templates to choose and download online and if you cut the outside your template line and sand down to the line with our special RailRunner tool, your board starts out right and sets you up for success.
Do you offer a kit that is specifically tailored for river surfing? If so, what is included in this kit and which board types are covered?
Yes we offer a river surfboard building kit with different size blank options to build and board style you want up to 6’0”. Resin, fiberglass, fin boxes, and custom logo paper are included in the kit. And while supplies last, we are including a new Innegra woven fiberglass cloth that greatly increases the ding resistance of a river surfboard.
River surfers need durable and resistant boards due to shallow water and sharp rocks. How durable are your boards and what options do river surfers have to make the boards more resistant (e.g. reinforce rails with kevlar, carbon etc.)?
The way our engineered EPS foam blanks are made they can take a hit from a rock or another board and absorb some of the energy and bounce back rather than crumbling like conventional polyurethane foam blanks. The Epoxy resins we supply also have some elasticity to flex before breaking and letting water in. We also offer a new fiberglass cloth with Innegra fibers as well as a variety of fiberglass cloths and carbon fiber reinforcement to make the board as strong as you’d like.
What fin set ups are possible and do you support both FCS and Future?
We carry both FCS and futures style finboxes and you can put as many fin boxes in a board as you want. Our River surfboard kits come with 3 fin boxes of your choice for a tri fin set.
In which sizes are your blanks/kits available? (i.e. maximum length, width, volume)
Our stock blanks range from 4’11” Skimboard blanks to 12’ SUPS. We quickly manufacture each blank per order order for maximum customization in length, thickness, rocker, foil, and stringer setup. We can make any blank you want if it’s not in our catalog.
Are there any guides, (video) tutorials or manuals that come with the kit? How do you deal with people who need more specific advice or have questions?
Beginner shaping kits come with a video download shot in my garage over 10 years ago. No flashy editing or hi resolution, but tons of great information and tricks are shown for first time shapers in a home environment similar to what they’ll be shaping in. We are very proud of our online Surfboard Building Guide which is a comprehensive step-by-step tutorial for board building. In addition we have a Surfboard Design guide on the website that tackles all the physics and hydrodynamics of a surfboard so you can learn how a board works and design it to suit your style of surfing and the waves you ride. Our online HELP CENTER currently has over 400 answers to customer questions over the years and is a tremendous resource for any board builder to gain more knowledge of the process. Lastly, as always, we’re eager to help anyone through email and get back with answers amazingly fast.
Where do you ship your kits? (e.g. worldwide, US, Europe etc.)
We ship kits and blanks throughout the USA and Canada. We cannot ship resins overseas due to airline regulations but we ship fiberglass, fins, tools, etc. to international customers daily.
What do your customers say about Greenlight? [Do you have 1-2 testimonials from existing customers?]
To have an idea of what you want to do on a wave, shape the board based on that idea, and then experiencing that feeling you crave when surfing the board… no words can describe it. It’s the highest level of surfing. It’s EPIC! ~Dave Grimes
Building my own board with this kit was fantastic! So much fun and the board turned out pretty good for my first one. I liked how light the EPS foam is and it shaped nicely. Thanks to Greenlight for all your help and the great supplies! ~Mark K