Ryan Burch – An Unconventional Art

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Ryan Burch in the shaping bay | Image source: vimeo.com

Ryan Burch’s fascination with surfboard shaping began when he was a grom. Fast forward to today: Ryan has his own shaping business and is known for experimenting with some of the most far-out board shapes in the industry. A skilled and avid surfer himself, his taste runs from fish to asymmetricals to traditional longboards to (before) foam blocks, depending on the waves.

The foam block might be Ryan’s oddest choice of surf craft. At a time when he was sponsored to ride a shortboard, his mother would warn him not to ride his “piece of trash” so much for fear his sponsors would drop him. This kind of experimentation, however, taught him much about shape and what it did to affect one’s surfing. Interviewed by MagicSeaweed, he said the foam block was “one of the best boards” he ever got to ride because it allowed him to flex it in response to the conditions and the effect he wanted.

Time in La Jolla got Burch interested in fish, with so many kneeboarders there riding them. Wanting a board he “could still rip on,” he created a smaller, foiled-out fish that allowed one to control its speed better. After his time riding a foam block, he said the fish was like a shortboard to him and became his “more trustworthy” board.

Burch grew up riding thrusters, but replaced them later with asymmetric boards, calling them the most “control-orientated” board he made. The models he turned out were narrow and fast, suited for point breaks. He experimented as well with twin-tip noses, finding that they created lift off the water, and he also played with rail thickness, with the overall balance of the board.

Despite his penchant for producing alternatively-shaped boards, Ryan loves a traditional log. There’s a nostalgia to them, he says. Growing up, he used to hate longboarders, but when he failed to score waves with his shortboard, he began riding logs himself. He still experiments when shaping them, but likes them to retain a traditional look.

When travelling to destinations where waves are good, Ryan might pack some asymmetricals and a fish. Many times, though, he has a lot of fun just riding other people’s boards. He also has boards he’s made and stashed in various places around the globe. When he knows he’ll return to a location, he might make a board for a friend, with the agreement that he can ride it when he’s there.

With his love for surfing and board building, it was only natural that Burch would start his own custom shaping business. Ryan Burch Surfboards is the product of his desire to keep building boards, to make the best boards he can, and to share his ability with people to improve their surfing.

In the short clip below, Ryan shares some thoughts behind his craft.

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