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New Museum Exhibit: Reflections in Wood - Surfboards and Shapers

New exhibition features surfboards crafted from rare wood by iconic shapers

Shapers are artisans who create surfboards from shaping materials such as foam and wood.  By pairing iconic shapers with select sources of rare wood, Larry Fuller (b. 1954) has assembled a collection of boards that illustrate the progression of surfboard design through a common medium.  Fuller crafted his first wooden board from agave and redwood close to three decades ago while working for surfer-shaper Jim Phillips (b. 1946).  Over the next few years, Fuller made connections to surfer-shapers including George Downing (1930–2018), Dick “RB” Brewer (b. 1936), and Donald Takayama (1943–2012), who established the foundation for a more extensive legacy project.

Wood collectors provided the materials and momentum.  After Fuller located sawyer and craftsman Charles “Chuck” Pyle (b. 1945), they created a series of surfboards with Takayama from old-growth redwood that Pyle had salvaged from the 1854 Mirassou Winery in Northern California.  In 2009, Fuller found Jan Petersen (b. 1951), the steward of a 2,700-year-old, 284-foot-tall giant sequoia tree that had fallen during a 1964 winter storm in Whitaker’s Forest, California.  Working with surfer-shaper Reynolds “Renny” Yater (b. 1932), they crafted four Baby Spoon longboards from solid, milled slabs of sequoia redwood. 

This exhibition features twenty-seven wooden surfboards selected from more than 100 examples constructed by Fuller and his team over the past decade.  Native Hawaiian surfboards by Tom “Pōhaku” Stone (b. 1951) document surfing’s ancient past.  Other boards illustrate shapes originally made from polyurethane foam and fiberglass.  A classic longboard by Dudley “Hap” Jacobs (b. 1930) showcases early 1960s design.  Big wave guns by George Downing and Wayne Lynch (b. 1952) demonstrate the equipment that is necessary to paddle into large waves.  Finally, tow boards by Bill Hamilton (b. 1948) replicate the balsa wood surfboards that his adopted son Laird Hamilton (b. 1964) and Darrick Doerner (b. 1957) first rode at Teahupo’o in Tahiti.

 Visit https://www.flysfo.com/museum/exhibitions/reflections-wood-surfboards-and-shapers for more information.    


Reflections in Wood — Surfboards and Shapers is located pre-security in the International Terminal, Departures Level, San Francisco International Airport. This exhibition is accessible to the public from January 26, 2019, to August 4, 2019.