With the 2021 Championship Tour wrapped up, it's time to dust ourselves off and lean into the shaping bay to look back at the boards that would prove to make a lasting legacy on both surfer and shaper.
No shaper was as dominant as Marcio Zouvi from Sharp Eye surfboards in 2021. The Brazilian-born, San Diego-based shaper formed Sharp Eye surfboards in 1992 and the last 25 years has turned it into a global business.
The man with the hot hand has been the in-demand shaper as his team riders continued to build on their success with CT victories on both the men's and women's respective Tours. His most notable surfer/shaper relationship has been with Filipe Toledo, but his surfboards are also ridden by Morgan Cibilic, Johanne Defay, Tatiana Weston-Webb, Sally Fitzgibbons, and Kanoa Igarashi.
In real terms, that means he had three of the women's finalists riding his boards at Trestles on finals day (Weston-Webb, Fitzgibbons, and Defay) and two of the men (Cibilic and Toledo).
Australian CT rookie, Morgan Cibilic, switched to Sharp Eye blades and had a breakout season, ultimately finishing number five in the world. Meanwhile, fellow CT rookie, Jack Robinson traveled with a bunch of Sharp Eye blades to Mexico and claimed his maiden CT victory with a sizzling performance at Barra de la Cruz.
"Obviously when you see results from your riders, you have this curiosity to ask, ‘Wow, is this equipment driven? He or she is surfing a lot better now", explains Zouvi in a recent interview with Tracks Magazine. "So everyone has this curiosity of trying out to see. But I've always stated that my designs are more suitable for certain types of surfers than most."
Johnny Cabianca is one of the most respected shapers in the world. Though his boards may not be a household name his number one team rider sure is. Gabriel Medina has been riding Cabianca surfboards for well over a decade. The 3x World Champion credits much of his success to the lifelong partnership with the Brazilian-born, Basque-based shaper. In 2021, the pair continued to build upon their success with Medina in his career-best form.
Medina was the most consistent surfer on Tour, chalking up multiple CT victories and a string of runner-up finishes wearing the Yellow Jersey for most of the season. Unlike Medina's World Titles won at Pipe in 2014 and 2018, where he rode Wade Tokoro's boards, this year he could finally provide Cabianca a fairytale moment, riding a Cabianca as he went on to chalk up his third world title at Trestles.
"Taking an entirely selfish view, it was a little hard seeing another board in the all of Gabriel's World Title images when he had ridden my boards in 10 of the other 11 CT events," Cabianca told the WSL ahead of the WSL Finals. "Obviously, it's not about me, but all about helping Gabe to achieve his dreams. Fingers crossed he does that on one of my boards at Trestles."
Another shaper who continued to ride the wave of success and popularity in 2021 was second-generation board shaper, Timmy Patterson.
Patterson is renowned for making some of the best high-performance surfboards in the world. From shaping boards for aerial pioneers Matt Archbold and Christian Fletcher in the 1980s and ‘90s, he's also made boards for Adriano de Souza, Jordy Smith, and of course 2019 world champ, Italo Ferreira.
The San Clemente-based shaper has said that successful Tour surfers tend to have a longstanding relationship with their shapers. Think Kolohe Andino/Matt Biolos, John John Florence/Jon Pyzel who have been working with their respective shapers since they were kids.
"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," says Patterson. "There's a lot to be said for consistency when it comes to shaping for these guys."
While Italo couldn't win back-to-back world titles he still had plenty of form winning the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup and not dropping below a 9th-place finish all season. But his greatest achievement was winning an Olympic gold medal on his Timmy Patterson Stok-ed model at the Tokyo Olympics in Chiba which was beamed into lounge rooms around the world.
When Conner Coffin defected from long-time board sponsor Channel Islands many eyebrows were raised. The Santa Barbara native had strong ties to the brand and had blooded many a model under the C.I. banner. But nothing lasts forever and after a visit to the Gold Coast Coffin linked up with renowned Australian shaper Jason Stevenson from JS and the pair quickly got to work. The world champion shaper who helped take Joel Parkinson to his 2011 World Title always has a healthy stable of CT calibre surfers and has driven performance at the elite level for decades.
"For me, joining JS is really exciting," said Coffin when he inked the deal with JS. "I've always admired the surfing of so many legends who JS has made boards for, from AI to Joel, Jules, Ace, Ryan... the list goes on! I just always felt like their boards looked so precise and glued to their feet. To have the opportunity to work with a shaper who has built boards for world champs and surfers on the tour for years is huge for me. I'm pumped to have the chance to work with JS to further dial my boards in for the tour and grow as a surfer!"
Coffin immediately caught fire when the Tour resumed in 2021 and the R&D he and JS had done started to yield returns. The Californian had his career-best start during the Australian leg picking up a 5th at the Rip Curl Newcastle Cup and a runner-up finish at the Rip Curl Narrabeen Classic. The 28-year-old would continue his role of consistent results and qualify for the Rip Curl WSL Finals at Lower Trestles and finish the year ranked a career-best No. 4 in the world -- the result signifying a quantum shift in his performance and put any doubts he'd made the right call to bed.