When it comes to surfing north of the Golden Gate bridge, you gotta want it. It’s cold. The wind often blows out conditions. The surf and currents can be big and mean. But in between the storms and onshore winds, there are moments of glory. Empty, peeling waves are framed by the rugged beauty of the North Coast. It’s there for those who know where to look and when... But you’ve got to have the right board. That’s where Sonoma County surfboard shaper Jamie Murray comes in.
"Murray's designs are tailor-made for the region."
One-hundred-yard paddles, strong sideshore currents and double overhead waves means you need a board that will first get you to the waves and then into them. That means more foam and more length. Whether it's nostalgia for old designs or simply the desire for a board that will help surfers paddle through the North Coast's notoriously heavy currents and surf, Murray's designs are tailor-made for the region.
Several of Murray's shapes were created with local surf breaks in mind. Winemakers talk about terroir and how their wines reflect the local soil and climate. Murray's boards reflect the power and mercurial nature of this stretch of coast. While springtime is rough, the North Coast can get good waves. Sometimes really good. And when it's on, you want the right board for the job.
"Several of Murray's shapes were created with local surf breaks in mind"
Murray's "Pit Boss" was created to surf a powerful, barreling wave near Dillon Beach that requires a long paddle over notoriously sharky waters. His “Valiant” design is suited to Salmon Creek when a winter groundswell is pulsing and the waves get steep and hollow. He also makes "Broadswords," mid length boards suited to both smaller, mushier summertime waves and big winter surf.
"Our conditions are wild and unpredictable. [Shaping for those conditions] is demanding."
He says he enjoys working directly with surfers, half of whom are women, to bring their ideas to life. What do customers want from a board?
"Everything," he laughs.
Local surfers want boards that can handle everything from ankle high to double overhead. Our conditions are wild and unpredictable. [Shaping for those conditions] is demanding. It's equal parts art, craft, and engineering challenge. He much prefers custom shaping to sticking a board in a shop for someone he'll never meet.
"I love shaping for individual surfers.. It's truly an honor to hear peoples' stories, discover why they're passionate about surfing, then work with them to realize their dream board.”