Surfing Montauk with Debra Rose

A "Board Tree" and Mike Becker of Nature Shapes in Sayville

September 2020

Shape Your Surfing

Debra Rose

Like growing your own vegetables, having a custom made piece of clothing, or recreating a meal from your favorite restaurant, there is something thrilling about possessing something bespoke to your own preferences.

If you are a surfer, you should have at least one custom-made board in your quiver.   In the event that you cannot shape a board yourself, the next best thing is to have one shaped for you.

Mike Becker of Nature Shapes in Sayville, a Long Island surfer that knows the Montauk waves like a local, has been shaping boards for nearly three decades.  Having a Nature Shapes board shaped for you is a rewarding way to connect your own skill level and style to the equipment you ride in the water.  Knowing the breaks around Montauk, Mike is adept at creating a board that suits your current level paired with your potential.

The beauty of surfing a custom board is merging your own personal dimensions with how your surf, along with the color and pattern of your board unique to you.  Your board is what connects you to the ocean.  Power comes from the ground up and in this case, the ground is your board.  In a world of pop-outs and mass production, a custom made board can walk the fine line of luxury and necessity.

Yoga teachers often advise having one’s own mat for similar reasons. “You feel connected to your own practice when you have your own piece of space rather than something you grab from the pile before each class,” according to one local teacher.   Imagine having something you paddle in the water to catch waves that is specifically designed for your body type, surfing ability and the breaks you surf?

The connection you will feel surfing a board specifically designed for you will create a greater appreciation for the sport, how you perform, and the entire tradition of surfing.  Think about what you are doing; you are paddling on the water on a piece of material with sharp fins around crowds of people in the unpredictable sea.  You are hoping to catch a wave, enjoy the thrill of a ride without hitting a rock, wiping out, or colliding with your fellow surfers.  Why wouldn’t you want equipment specifically designed to meet the demands of that environment?

As an east coast surfer, having a custom shaped board will not only support your local shaper, the economy and the environment, you will possess a board that is not a generic one usually meant for the west coast.  Custom shaped boards from an East Coast shaper are boards made for waves you ride, not the ones designed for masses.

Best of all, when you develop a relationship with a local shaper, you will forever have a lifeline when you progress in your surfing, outgrow, ding or destroy your board.  Recently a surfer had an unfortunate self-created surfboard destroying moment and called Becker in a panic.  “This is a surf board emergency…I clotheslined my own board and basically sawed it in half…can you help?”

Becker had the dimensions, design and style on file, replacing the board in time to maintain momentum that season.  Even if its just one board in your arsenal, it may be the most fun and functional board investment you make.