After surfing a while at Blackies, you become used to look at people boards. Ok, maybe just when you are not really good at surfing. Still. While chasing the small waves in Newport Beach, I’ve seen a lot of locals with all the same brands of board: Dano Surfboards. I then went and meet the founder, Dano Forte and his shop in Costa Mesa to talk a little bit more about his career and to visit the place. It is surprisingly huge.
‘’I started to shape boards 27 years ago, in my mom’s garage. I just bought a blank and gave it a try. I was just around a bunch of shapers and I airbrushed for a few people and I just saw a blank somewhere. I asked what it was for and the guy sold it to me. I watched my boards being shaped over the years, so I wasn’t that confident, but I was going to give it a try. I got it to work, but it wasn’t that good. Through that you see what you’ve done wrong and you know what you can change. It takes a while before it all flows together.’’
Shaping boards is really popular in California as you grow up with the surf culture, but Dano haven’t had the same childhood. ‘’I lived in New York till I was 12 then I moved to Southern California. I didn’t start surfing for a few years when I moved here, I was hanging in the ocean, but not surfing yet.’’
-How much time does it take usually?
Some are with the machines and the more customs are handmade. It takes me maybe two and a half hours to do handshape.
-Are you doing the glassing here as well?
We do it all here, yea. Want to check it out?
''This is a board I shaped for Japan – it’s all handmade.
It’s a lot quicker when I use a machine, but I think it’s the same quality. When it’s handshape there is a little nuance, they have a human element for sure, but I make some out of the computer for the team riders and they love it. When it’s with the machine, it’s perfect for 100%, but there is something about the human element that makes it feel cool. ''
''I had some good riders over the year and they still ride some of my old boards from time to time, which is cool. I have Jared Mell is ridingmy boards now and he surf really well.''
So, this is my room.
''My favourite boards are traditional Longboards - retro style, fish and eggs, 70s style single fin. ''
''When I started, it was mainly just short boards, I competed and I was riding just a regular thruster and I had no desire of shaping a Longboard. Somehow down the line I just found a love for old style Longboard and I wanted to build some that way too, big fins. I decided to make myself a Longboard and I thought it was the old style, but it wasn’t really. Then I saw other people doing it, so I was doing my homework and checking what they road in the 60s and how the fin was as well. ''
''Usually people share rooms, except when they shape. They will have their own room depending of what they do. We have two laminated rooms for the glassing where they put the fiberglass on. We do approximately ten boards at the same time. They do the bottom first, put the fiberglass on and turn it over to put another layer of resin. Then top and bottom again. ''
Dano Surfboards became a big company without Dano expected it. What was just a hobby ends up being an career. This is crazy what life deserves you sometimes. This is a rad warehouse, pretty big where I would probably get lost, but if you make your board custom, go see the shaper. Hang with him and learn with him the best things. It may serve you one day!
If you go to Costa Mesa, you should go see Dano!