Lord knows we here at ESM love our homegrown East Coast shapers. But we’re also equally impressed when west coast shapers put in the time and effort to build dedicated rosters, shop accounts, and followings in our neck of the woods. Hailing from Ventura County, CA, Robert Weiner has developed his shaping skills by producing boards for all different kinds of waves. Over the years, rider feedback and daily surfing has forged Robert into a true master of his craft, and recently, he’s expanded on the Rightside, sponsoring surfers like Clay Pollioni, Tom Petriken, and Dallas Tolson. In 2011, Robert was crowned Surfing Magazine's Shaper Of The Year, and last week was his first time experiencing the East Coast as he visited shops in the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast. EasternSurf.com caught up with Robert to talk about the experience.
ESM: So you got to see two of National Geographic's “World's 20 Best Surf Towns” in Montauk, NY, and Wrightsville Beach, NC. What was the vibe like?
Robert Weiner: The vibe was great — everyone was super nice and everyone seems to be stoked on the boards.
ESM: Try any good regional Rightside fare?
RW: The food was great. We went to the restaurant that my teamrider Dallas Tolson waits tables at, Ketch 55 on the Outer Banks. He suggested the shrimp and grits, so I tried that, and it was amazing.
ESM: Where did you get to surf?
RW: My rep, Mick Cotton, teamriders Dallas Tolson and Brad Harrell, and Trip from REAL Watersports, and I surfed a few different spots on the Outer Banks! We also surfed Ocean City, MD, with some of the shop kids from Chauncey’s and a spot north of Brave New World in New Jersey with Tom Petriken and photographer Mike Incitti. We were able to surf in Montauk, and I also surfed some one-footers in Wrightsville on my Mush Machine. The water was so nice and warm.
ESM: Bring any other East Coast-specific boards with you?
RW: In addition to the Mush Machine, I brought a brand new Black Punt that I shaped just before I left. Both boards worked well in the East Coast conditions.
ESM: Are those the models that East Coasters are requesting and ordering the most?
RW: The White Diamond is still very popular. We’re also getting a lot of orders for the Mush Machine, the Diamond Fish, and the Modern ‘80s.
ESM: It’s no secret that talking to your shaper makes a huge difference. How was it meeting and talking shop with some of the surfers riding your designs?
RW: It was great to talk to all the guys who were at the shops and hear about how they’re loving the boards. It's really nice to see all my years of hard work bring so much stoke to the guys on the East Coast.
ESM: When did you start sending boards over here, and what was the first store to add Roberts Surfboards to its lineup?
RW: About three and half years ago at Aussie Island in Wilmington, NC. I shaped a board for Mick Cotton and he absolutely loved it, so he called me and asked me if he could help sell the boards because he wanted his friends to get the same stoke that he had. He first got my boards into Aussie Island, and then I was voted Surfing Magazine’s Shaper Of The Year. So Mick suggested that I go to Surf Expo, and with the help of Mick, Bruce Chrisner, and Grant Parra we now have 25 accounts on the East Coast and are looking forward to getting into some great accounts in Florida and Texas.
ESM: Does the same thought process come into play when shaping a board for an East Coast beachbreak compared to a California beachbreak?
RW: They are similar. We now have so many different models to choose from that it’s just a matter of picking the right model for the waves you will be riding. For example, I shape a White Diamond the same for the west coast as I would for the East Coast. And if someone on the East Coast wants a Black Thumb for good days, I’ll shape it the same way I would for the west coast.
ESM: Have you needed to make any significant changes to models for the East Coast?
RW: The only changes I make are on custom orders, and usually those are dimension changes. I try to keep the models true to the original formula. If someone wants me to add something to the original model, I won’t put that model name on that board, just because it’s really not that model anymore.
ESM: What was the most memorable moment during your two-week journey up and down the East Coast?
RW: Getting to meet all the people that love riding my boards. It’s a great feeling to know that I bring joy to so many surfers through my love of shaping boards. Also surfing with my youngest daughter and friends in warm water. Thanks to everyone for all the great memories in and out of the water.