Shapers Profile-John Pyzel

yzel_square.jpg

John Pyzel started surfing at a young age in Santa Barbara and moved to the North Shore in 1992, where he started out doing ding repair, and progressed into glassing and eventually shaping. He has one of the most rad test pilots a shaper could wish for—John John Florence. Pyzel has been making boards for him since age 5. These days, John keeps very busy with fine-tuning JJ’s shapes, traveling the world and shaping at every stop. We recently caught up with him to find out a little more about him.

G+J: How did you first get into shaping?
J+P: I came to hawaii in ‘92 from Santa Barbara, and I started fixing dings at Country Surfboards across the street from Sunset. I had no extra money so I had to fix my own boards and they ended up giving me the Ding Bat job. I just started learning all the aspects of building a board (glassing, sanding, hot coating, airbrushing) and soon I decided to shape myself a board too. I had always been interested in surfboard design.

G+J: How long have you been shaping for?
J+P: I probably shaped my very first board in ‘94 or ‘95, but I didn’t do too many those first few years, just made myself and friends some boards.

G+J: What’s your favorite design/shape?
J+P: I love making high performance boards, because they are the boards that bring out the top level of surfing in guys. I also really like the high performance hybrids, like my board the PyzAlien, because they give the average surfer a bit of an advantage, performance-wise, but they also can be ridden by a pro-level guy and work insane in weaker waves. Lately I have been lucky to be making a lot of the boards that guys are riding at Jaws and other big waves, and those are also really cool to make. Mark Healey helped me to develop I’ve got a lot of good feedback from some of the top big wave guys in the world, and that makes me stoked! When you see someone throwing themselves into a monster wave on your boards it goes beyond the regular surfer/shaper relationship- those guys are pretty much trusting you with their lives! If the boards don’t work they can actually die!

G+J: When you think of the perfect board for a certain wave on the North Shore, what shape and spot comes to mind first?
J+P: Probably Pipeline, and just a nice, clean little 6’6’’ round pin Next Step. I seem to make a lot of boards in the 6’4’’ to 6’10’’ range for Pipe every year, so I feel like that’s one of my specialty boards in Hawaii. I have gotten to work with a lot of the good Pipe surfers in the past years, so I get a lot of feedback from them and that really helps to make a good board for the spot.

G+J: Surfboard lengths have come down quite a bit in the last 10-15 years, even out at Sunset. What are your thoughts?
J+P: Oddly, I make guys the same boards for Pipe and Sunset these days, where in the past you would be making 2 really different boards. The surfers approach to Sunset has changed a lot (among pros, the old guys are still rolling in out the back on 10’6’’s). You will often want a bit more length and thickness at sunset in a free-surf, when you are fighting to get a wave and paddling your ass off to avoid getting caught inside, but contests are a bit different. If you only have 3 other guys out with you, it is easier to sit in the spot you want and take off late, under the hook, which means you can ride a shorter board. I make my step-ups a little thicker through the front half of the boards which adds to your paddle speed and feels a bit more solid overall.

G+J: Given the power of the waves on the North Shore, your customers must go through a few boards during a winter season, that must keep you super busy.
J+P: Well, we try to build our boards as solid as possible so that they will survive the beatings here, but boards will always break. I have a lot of work going on here, but i’m never happy to have to make someone a board because they broke one!

G+J: Must be pretty awesome to watch the progression of John John! Tell us about that.
J+P: It has been a great thing to watch him grow up as an amazing surfer and see him reach some of his dreams in surfing. I always envisioned him right where he is today, but I am still sometimes surprised by the stuff he pulls and just how good he has become.He is my favorite surfer to watch, and not just because he’s on my boards, but because he has such a unique style and surfs unpredictably. He does it all.

G+J: JJ seems to have the full package as a professional surfer, airs, big waves,unreal rail work, mind blowing airs and of course his tube riding! Has working with such a well rounded surfer helped with your designs?
J+P: JJ has really been with me from the very start of my shaping career, so s lot of how I shape is based off what he likes in a surfboard, or where he wants to go on a wave. We have worked together on boards forever, which makes it kind of easier for us to get them right most of the time. I still make a lot of different boards that he isn’t that interested in riding, but when it comes to performance boards, he’s helped me develop many of my main designs.

G+J: How is the surfer/shaper relationship between you guys?
J+P: His whole family is like family to me, and we get along really well. We live about a mile apart, so I see him quite a bit at home and then we end up traveling together during different contests too. We surf together a lot at different events, and I will ride his boards and trade off with him in the water so he can get a feel for a few boards during one session. It’s a really easy situation.

G+J: Of course we gotta ask…How many boards do you think you make JJ in a year?
J+P: I think about 80-100 boards a year. We have a really good hit/miss ratio (meaning he likes the board enough to keep riding it), but he tends to break a lot of shortboards, so I have to keep them coming.

G+J: What’s your favorite wave on the North Shore?
J+P: Pipeline is my favorite, but it’s so crowded now that I don’t surf it too often. I live right at Rocky Point, so I end up out there a lot and it can get pretty good. It’s kind of a Pipeline retirement wave- still plenty of barrels and none of the crowd.

G+J: Who have been some of your shaping influences throughout your career?
J+P: The main guy who has helped me the most in shaping is Jeff Bushman for sure. He really gave me a lot of information and advice when I was first getting going, and he’s been a really good friend for years now. My kids call him Uncle Bushy! Matt Moore from Carpenteria and Rincon. He made my first board and sponsored me for years when I was young. He really got me intrigued by surfboard design and I always admired how he structured his life around the ocean and surfing. I always looked up to Timmy Patterson too, because he is such a great shaper and a true craftsman who can do anything as far as building boards! (And another guy I am lucky to call my friend).

Final Thoughts?
I would like to thank all the people that have helped me and given me their support over all the years. I am so lucky to do what I love for my living, and there is no way I would be here without everybody who has been there for me. And if you ever bought a board from me- Thanks a million, I hope it made you love surfing even more than you did before!


Posted by: SkipSneadSkipSnead at: 23 Feb 2015 14:53




Here are some other articles you might be interested in.


Wiki Syntax Enabled: Complete All Fields


John Pyzel started surfing at a young age in Santa Barbara and moved to the North Shore in 1992, where he started out doing ding repair, and progressed into glassing and eventually shaping. He has one of the most rad test pilots a shaper could wish for—John John Florence. Pyzel has been making boards for him since age 5. These days, John keeps very busy with fine-tuning JJ’s shapes, traveling the world and shaping at every stop. We recently caught up with him to find out a little more about him.

G+J: How did you first get into shaping?
J+P: I came to hawaii in ‘92 from Santa Barbara, and I started fixing dings at Country Surfboards across the street from Sunset. I had no extra money so I had to fix my own boards and they ended up giving me the Ding Bat job. I just started learning all the aspects of building a board (glassing, sanding, hot coating, airbrushing) and soon I decided to shape myself a board too. I had always been interested in surfboard design.

G+J: How long have you been shaping for?
J+P: I probably shaped my very first board in ‘94 or ‘95, but I didn’t do too many those first few years, just made myself and friends some boards.

G+J: What’s your favorite design/shape?
J+P: I love making high performance boards, because they are the boards that bring out the top level of surfing in guys. I also really like the high performance hybrids, like my board the PyzAlien, because they give the average surfer a bit of an advantage, performance-wise, but they also can be ridden by a pro-level guy and work insane in weaker waves. Lately I have been lucky to be making a lot of the boards that guys are riding at Jaws and other big waves, and those are also really cool to make. Mark Healey helped me to develop I’ve got a lot of good feedback from some of the top big wave guys in the world, and that makes me stoked! When you see someone throwing themselves into a monster wave on your boards it goes beyond the regular surfer/shaper relationship- those guys are pretty much trusting you with their lives! If the boards don’t work they can actually die!

G+J: When you think of the perfect board for a certain wave on the North Shore, what shape and spot comes to mind first?
J+P: Probably Pipeline, and just a nice, clean little 6’6’’ round pin Next Step. I seem to make a lot of boards in the 6’4’’ to 6’10’’ range for Pipe every year, so I feel like that’s one of my specialty boards in Hawaii. I have gotten to work with a lot of the good Pipe surfers in the past years, so I get a lot of feedback from them and that really helps to make a good board for the spot.

G+J: Surfboard lengths have come down quite a bit in the last 10-15 years, even out at Sunset. What are your thoughts?
J+P: Oddly, I make guys the same boards for Pipe and Sunset these days, where in the past you would be making 2 really different boards. The surfers approach to Sunset has changed a lot (among pros, the old guys are still rolling in out the back on 10’6’’s). You will often want a bit more length and thickness at sunset in a free-surf, when you are fighting to get a wave and paddling your ass off to avoid getting caught inside, but contests are a bit different. If you only have 3 other guys out with you, it is easier to sit in the spot you want and take off late, under the hook, which means you can ride a shorter board. I make my step-ups a little thicker through the front half of the boards which adds to your paddle speed and feels a bit more solid overall.

G+J: Given the power of the waves on the North Shore, your customers must go through a few boards during a winter season, that must keep you super busy.
J+P: Well, we try to build our boards as solid as possible so that they will survive the beatings here, but boards will always break. I have a lot of work going on here, but i’m never happy to have to make someone a board because they broke one!

G+J: Must be pretty awesome to watch the progression of John John! Tell us about that.
J+P: It has been a great thing to watch him grow up as an amazing surfer and see him reach some of his dreams in surfing. I always envisioned him right where he is today, but I am still sometimes surprised by the stuff he pulls and just how good he has become.He is my favorite surfer to watch, and not just because he’s on my boards, but because he has such a unique style and surfs unpredictably. He does it all.

G+J: JJ seems to have the full package as a professional surfer, airs, big waves,unreal rail work, mind blowing airs and of course his tube riding! Has working with such a well rounded surfer helped with your designs?
J+P: JJ has really been with me from the very start of my shaping career, so s lot of how I shape is based off what he likes in a surfboard, or where he wants to go on a wave. We have worked together on boards forever, which makes it kind of easier for us to get them right most of the time. I still make a lot of different boards that he isn’t that interested in riding, but when it comes to performance boards, he’s helped me develop many of my main designs.

G+J: How is the surfer/shaper relationship between you guys?
J+P: His whole family is like family to me, and we get along really well. We live about a mile apart, so I see him quite a bit at home and then we end up traveling together during different contests too. We surf together a lot at different events, and I will ride his boards and trade off with him in the water so he can get a feel for a few boards during one session. It’s a really easy situation.

G+J: Of course we gotta ask…How many boards do you think you make JJ in a year?
J+P: I think about 80-100 boards a year. We have a really good hit/miss ratio (meaning he likes the board enough to keep riding it), but he tends to break a lot of shortboards, so I have to keep them coming.

G+J: What’s your favorite wave on the North Shore?
J+P: Pipeline is my favorite, but it’s so crowded now that I don’t surf it too often. I live right at Rocky Point, so I end up out there a lot and it can get pretty good. It’s kind of a Pipeline retirement wave- still plenty of barrels and none of the crowd.

G+J: Who have been some of your shaping influences throughout your career?
J+P: The main guy who has helped me the most in shaping is Jeff Bushman for sure. He really gave me a lot of information and advice when I was first getting going, and he’s been a really good friend for years now. My kids call him Uncle Bushy! Matt Moore from Carpenteria and Rincon. He made my first board and sponsored me for years when I was young. He really got me intrigued by surfboard design and I always admired how he structured his life around the ocean and surfing. I always looked up to Timmy Patterson too, because he is such a great shaper and a true craftsman who can do anything as far as building boards! (And another guy I am lucky to call my friend).

Final Thoughts?
I would like to thank all the people that have helped me and given me their support over all the years. I am so lucky to do what I love for my living, and there is no way I would be here without everybody who has been there for me. And if you ever bought a board from me- Thanks a million, I hope it made you love surfing even more than you did before!

Image yzel_square.jpg