From the archives of our documentary, Boardroom – Legends of Surfboard Shaping”, here is part two of our interview with Bill Stewart.
Here is some info about Bill pulled from the Surfer Magazine Buyers guide:
Behind the Brand:“I’m still Kentucky’s greatest surfer ever,” says Bill Stewart with a laugh. Born in Bowling Green, Kentucky, in 1951, Stewart’s family moved to Florida when he was 2. In middle school, a friend’s father pulled him out of class one day and took him surfing for the first time. “I was completely hooked,” says Stewart. “I mowed 32 lawns in 1964 to earn $32 to buy a used Hobie 9’2″, which was my first board.” Stewart began to shape experimentally during high school, but it wasn’t until he moved to California in 1971 that he linked up with Rick James who, along with Terry Martin, helped him to refine his skills to a professional level. “I lived for surf through high school and excelled in art classes,” he recalls. “I bought a 1963 Ford van for $500 and split for the West Coast. I ended up in Encinitas, where I surfed Swami’s everyday on my 5’6″ Plastic Fantastic twin-fin. Surfing my way up the coast, I landed at my dream location: San Clemente. I paid my dues polishing, sanding, and selling boards. I learned all I could about building surfboards, painting, and shaping for Rick James. My big break came when I started airbrushing hundreds of boards for OP. I was hired by South Shore and later by Hobie for airbrushing and shaping.”
In 1978, Stewart launched his own label, Stewart Surfboards, in Dana Point, CA, where he hand-painted and shaped, took orders, sold T-shirts, operated the register, and built a brand, one customer at a time. In the early-’80s, Stewart began experimenting with modern longboard designs, and it was his three-finned, double-concave, beveled-rail Hydro Hull that became the cornerstone of his operation.
About Stewart’s Most Popular Models: “The 9’0″ Hydro Hull is still my most popular model. It’s designed for beginners and expert surfers alike, and works in any type of wave. It’s an extremely versatile board.”
Shop Talk: “I’ve never seen one board that will work for every surfer. That’s why we work hard to build our custom boards specifically for our clients, which means incorporating color, artwork, and original design decisions into the equation.”
SHAPER Q & A
Who are your notable team riders and what kind of feedback are you getting from them?
“Colin McPhillips, Troy Mothershead, and Steve Newton are a few of our guys. They seem to ask for more rocker and transition along the edges from nose to tail. Colin’s 9’0″ Pro seems to be pretty popular with those guys. It’s fast, loose, light, and noserides well.”\
How do you think surfboards and the process of shaping and glassing boards will change in the next decade?
“Well, big changes have already occurred during the last five years. Molded epoxy boards, EPS epoxy boards, hand-laminated boards—there’s a lot of variety out there, and I can see this continuing into the future.”
When a new customer comes to you for a custom shape, what kind of questions do you ask to ensure you’ll make them what they’re looking for?
“Everyone who comes in looking for a surfboard is analyzed with an eye for their height, weight, and needs. We also ask them about their current board style, where they surf, how many/type of fins they want. We’re here to give them the board that’s going to take their surfing to the next level.”