- WSL / Kelly Cestari
- WSL / Kelly Cestari

It's been said that to look forward one sometimes has to look back. Such is the case with Italo Ferreira and his relationship with shaper Timmy Patterson.

Patterson is renowned for making some of the best high-performance surfboards in the world. His resume goes back to halcyon days of the 1980s and ‘90s shaping for aerial pioneers Matt Archbold and Christian Fletcher. He's also shaped sticks for Pat O'Connell, Adriano de Souza, Jordy Smith, and now ... Ferreira.

Patterson has been in the shaping bay since before he was born. His father and uncles were among some of the first shapers and glassers hired by surf and sailing entrepreneur Hobie Alter back in the early ‘60s. Originally from Hawaii, the Patterson family ended up at the Hobie factory in Dana Point when they learned there was gainful employment to be had making boards for Alter.

Italo Ferreira, Title Contender
From his humble roots to explosive aerial game, WSL filmmakers explore the life of the new World No. 1 and defending Bells Beach champ.

"My mom would walk through the factory to come visit my dad when she was pregnant with me. I was literally born into this life," Patterson joked this week from his surfboard factory in San Clemente.

So, how exactly did Ferreira come into Patterson's orbit? Patterson has always had a strong relationship with the Brazilian contingent. Not only did he make boards for De Souza during his World Title run, but De Souza actually lived with him in San Clemente when he dedicated himself to improving his game at Lower Trestles. Jadson Andre is another Brazilian Tour surfer who's spent time under the Patterson roof.

"Maybe it's the Hawaiian influence on my family, but we're always welcoming people in and feeding them and giving them a place to stay. It's just how it's always been. That's what real surf community and surf culture is -- to me anyway." Patterson continued, "I have barbecues at my shop all the time for all the workers just because that's what we do, it's a family. Italo came by during one and loved it. He was hanging with all the glassers and sanders. It's epic because, salt of the earth or surf star, we're all living this rad surf life together."

Timmy Patterson in his shaping room in San Clemente Timmy Patterson finishing a board for Ferreira at his factory in San Clemente, California. - WSL / Jake Howard

Luiz "Pinga" Campos was managing De Souza during his San Clemente stay, and it's Pinga who first connected Ferreira with Patterson.

"Pinga brought him to me when he was like 12 years old and said, ‘I've got this kid that needs some help with his boards.' He was so small when I first met him," Patterson explained.

Patterson and Ferreira's work together has been paying off ever since. Technology has helped solve some logistical issues as Patterson is able to send digital files of the boards he designs to his partners in Brazil, Silver Surf, where nearly 75-percent of Ferreira's boards are actually made.

The collective fruits of their labor were on display at both the Airborne and Quik Pro Gold Coast events, where Ferreira was able to launch himself to the highest of heights. But Patterson admits, it's a tried and true formula.

"The rocker for Archy's boards, Adriano's boards and Italo's boards are pretty much the same. It works, we know it works, so why mess with it? Length and outlines change, like boards have gotten shorter and wider, but the rocker hasn't changed," explained Patterson. "You can take a couple inches off the nose and add some width to the front of board instead, but it's the same entry and exit rocker."

QUEENSLAND, AUSTRALIA - APRIL 5: Italo Ferreira of Brazil advances to Round 4 of the 2019 Quiksilver Pro Gold Coast after winning Heat 13 of Round 3 at Duranbah Beach on April 5, 2019 in Queensland, Australia. (Photo by Matt Dunbar/WSL via Getty Images) Ferreira inhereting the legacy of Fletcher and Archbold as he pushes the boudaries of what is possible in the air. - WSL / Matt Dunbar

Patterson's also artfully tucking under the rails the same as he ever has. He has a rail template that reads "Matt Archbold" that he made 20 years ago. It fits perfectly on the boards that Ferreira is riding today. Same thing with the fin placement, his thruster measurements have remained consistent over the years.

"You don't want to overthink things, that's easy to do," Patterson said. "You find what works and make subtle adjustments from there. We're not trying to reinvent the wheel, we're trying to give Italo something that works to the point where he doesn't have to think about it when it's under his feet."

Patterson notes that the most successful Tour surfers tend to be the ones that have longstanding relationships with their shapers. He points to Kolohe Andino and Matt Biolos and John John Florence and Jon Pyzel as prime examples. Both surfers have been working with their respective shapers since they were kids.

Matt Archbold (USA) at the 2018 Surf Ranch Pro in Lemoore, Ca. Surf prodigy Matt Archbold advanced aerial progression in the 1980s and continues riding Patterson's boards. - WSL / Kenneth Morris

"You build this trust and you keep working on things until you get it right. There are so many design options and so many materials out there, for the surfers, that can create a lot of noise and confusion," Patterson says. "There's a lot to be said for consistency when it comes to shaping for these guys."

Jordy Smith's early years on Tour were plagued by ordering boards from anyone under the sun. The result was he often appeared lost when it came to equipment choices. In a similar vein, Kelly Slater's continued experimentation with different design concepts over the last few years, while entertaining and enlightening, has sometimes hampered his results because of the lack of a consistent and specific design.

But more than anything, for Patterson, as well as Ferreira, it's about performing in the water and keeping it fun and loose.

"The last time he was in here I gave him a blank and let him shape it. I cleaned it up a little, but it turned out pretty good, he was psyched. That's what I love about shaping boards, it's rad just to be in the shaping bay with someone talking shop and making surfboards. I have as much fun today as the first board I shaped," Patterson says. "Pat O'Connell came through and grabbed that board that Italo made ... I gotta get it back. I want to try it out."

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