The summer of 1960, Bill Minard rented a 35lb. long board from a small surf shop one block north of Crystal Pier. He then walked the 1/2 mile down to pacific Beach Drive to surf without the crowds. Twelve years later he was shaping boards for that same shop and has since gone on to become one of San Diego’s premier shapers.
Like Most of the late 60’s and early 70’s underground shapers, Bill shaped boards out of his Crown Point garage under the name Matrix Surfboards. The boards were also sold in San Diego Surf Shop from 1974 to 1984. During 1970 most of his boards were designed like the sleek, more foiled out shapes of Mike Diffenderfer and Dwayne Brown.
In 1977, he began shaping for Channin Surfboards working with Tracey Richmond, Mike Casey, and Steve Moret. By 1980, he was ghost shaping for Bahne Surfboards, Surfboards Hawaii, and Donald Takayama. “One of the highlights of my career was ghost shaping for Diffenderfer from 1982 through 1984”.
In 1985, he began shaping the G&S (Gordon and Smith) team boards and also replaced the Matrix logo with Minard Surfboards. By 1990, he was ghost shaping for most of the big names in the area although recently he has drop that down to a few select clients to allow him to concentrate more on his Minard Surfboards label.
“The Speed Egg is my most requested board. I have been perfecting this shape since 1976 and by 1982 had incorporated tri and quad fins into the design. Since 1982, my personal favorite has remained the Four Fin Speed Egg.”
“I also designed the Travel Board in the late 1990 for surfers on vacation. This board is more versatile inn different kinds of surf, saving the traveler the expense and inconvenience of carrying several boards. The travel board is a narrow Speed Egg design that will hold its own on bigger waves but will also perform well on smaller waves”. The Big Guy Tri is designed for the mature surfer who does not want to give up performance or style. It’s a bit wider and thicker but not much longer.
After 53 years of surfing and 43 years of shaping, I continue to enjoy the art of building custom surfboards by hand from start to finish. I shape in excess of 1,200 boards per year and still dawn patrol 5 days a week.
Interview with Ghost Shaper Extraodinaire Bill Minard
You have a reputation for being able to duplicate “magic”boards. How did this come about?
Most shapers in the 70’s stuck to their model or plan or just made their own boards to promote themselves. I’ve been mainly a ghost shaper and have had to learn how to make so many different kinds and models of boards. It’s just ended up that I haven’t been promoting me… but in the process I also saw big name guys go through their highs and lows… as a ghost shapers and having versatility I could move between shapers. So when someone comes to me it’s just what I’m used to. Basically ghost shaping prepares you for that… you see so many shapers ideas… lots of interesting stuff. Today I work for 5 different people. The only bad thing is all 5 use 5 different types of foam and that gets a little crazy.
What’s different about being a shaper now?
It’s interesting. In 70’s and 80’s people came into watch their board shaped. I guess people just have better things to do now, cause I hardly do that anymore. It’s weird, really different. Although even back then there were a few crews that wouldn’t let you watch… like the Brewer crew. Now people will bring their boards in and say what they like or don’t like and then leave. Also, now the surf industry seems to be really into “models”. Instead of being constrained by models I try to listen to the needs of a customer and to put what they want into a board.
Your thoughts on the state of surfing and the surfboards you’ve been making?
Finally people are coming around to some width and length. High School kids always seem to stick to what pros are riding… thin etc. That’s not likely not to go away. In the least issue of Surfer Journal Kelly Slater was talking about… he said people were just riding boards that were too narrow. People are happier now (with the new style boards). I’m making a lot of shorter boards with fuller noses. It’s gone from 10.5″ to 11.5″ to now at 12.5″ to 14″… sometimes a little bigger… we call them “tweeners”.
This started in the late 90’s with “tweeners”… hybrids. The first ones didn’t have wings but we added those and it took off. Now you see lots of people following. People are opening their eyes more and riding boards that work. Magazines are finally starting to promote them also… which is nice… not just selling what the pros are riding. Customers are now also seeing a design they like and then they will tune it. And that’s a great trend… starting to fine tune their primary board. In my case it’s often that what people want isn’t readily available… that’s where I come in.