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fryna2-1-openerSecond -and last- part of the interview with Alexander Lobstein, shaper of Barrel Surfboards and winner of the 2009 Irish Fish Fry. Go HERE to read the first part.

Fish Fries – What’s the Fish Fry?
The Fish Fry is a Lokbox event. The first one took place in California, but soon after they were also held in Australia, Japan and Europe. The first European Fish Fry took place in Woolacombe, England (North Devon) in 2007. The second one was held in Costa Da Caparica (Portugal) last year and the third one ran a few weeks ago in Ireland.
The aim of the Fish Fry is to promote the fish as a valid design, from the most traditional to the most modern shapes. It’s also about showcasing the work of craftspeople (shapers) and their creativity within the same design. Of course, being a Lokbox event there is also a strong accent on the use of their fin system. It’s also an opportunity for us – shapers- to meet, talk, exchange ideas, concepts, rail designs, bottoms, etc, etc…

You’ve attended the three European Fish Fries so far: what’s your view on the event?
Extremely positive. You get to meet people from far away and even if the aim is to promote your boards, your designs, everyone is super enthusiastic and there’s a strong feeling of camaraderie amongst the shapers. It’s also a unique opportunity to meet living legends and other renowned shapers such as Rich Pavel, Chris Christenson, Manuel Caro, Jacinto, Waters etc… who happen to be very friendly and helpful and never look down on us mere mortals. There’s never any real competition within a Fish Fry; the motto is “share the stoke”.
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Woolacombe Fish Fry 2007.

Why attend the Fish Fry?
The first year (2007 – Devon), I didn’t really know what to expect and I basically decided to go and see as many boards as possible as I knew that people like Pavel, Christenson, Mandala, Marlin Bacon would be there; and they are role models to me as far as the quality of their work is concerned. I basically wanted to see, touch, understand, learn. I had just started my shaping business one year earlier. For the second Fish Fry (2008 – Portugal), I was much more confident regarding my work and I’ve always loved Portugal. Again I got to meet plenty of people and learn lots from them. And one of my boards finished 3rd ex-æquo… with boards from very famous shapers that have been working for years. All this got even better this year (2009 – Ireland):  I met more people than ever and I managed to spend some time with Rich Pavel, from whom I’ve learnt a lot. And one of my boards won an award. Shaping is quite a lonely and tough job and we don’t make much money. Sometimes it is almost depressing. And we are very often faced with the inability to judge one’s own work and to be able to see how we are doing compared to other shapers. Events like the Fish Fry are useful to compare my work and designs to other shaper’s without it being a proper competition. You learn a lot and it is very rewarding.

What do you expect to get from the Fish Fry?
To learn a lot. Even today, when I’m being congratulated and rewarded by my peers I think still have lots to learn and that I haven’t reached anywhere yet. I think I still have plenty to do and improve lots.

fryna1-2Rob Royal checking out some Barrel surfboards. Woolacombe 2007.

Who are the members of the Jury?
Normally the members are one of the founders of Lokbox (Kasey Curtis this year), a special guest and one of the European importers of Lokbox. They are all guys with an extensive surf experience and who know the reality of working in a small shaping bay.

How did you feel when other shapers acknowledge your work?
Super proud, of course. From one year to the next my work has improved and so has the perception the other have of me… but there’s still plenty to do. On a normal shaper’s day we rarely have the possibility to check our work against other shapers. And our clients are super biased and see only the best of our job. During a Fish Fry as there is no competition- there’s a lot of positive feedback on each other’s ideas. To be acknowledged as the best fish shaper in Europe by my peers makes them as happy as I am.

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Alexander Lobstein and Paul (Black & White). Ireland 2009.

Do you think this award will translate into more orders?
It is quite unlikely seeing how little promotion of the event there is. French websites have hardly spoken of it at all and not a single French surf mag has contacted me. But I hope the reward for the award will come under the form of more surfers approaching me. I’m a very young shaper (less than 4 years officially). Many surfers are reluctant to give a chance to a young shaper like myself… which is -at the same time- understandable and frustrating.

fryna3-1Irish Fish Fry 2009.

Do you think that average surfers know about events like the Fish Fry?
My customers follow my blog closely. Most of them are big surfing aficionados, with lots of experience and have their priorities straight. They are interested in everything related to surfing’s culture and want to know more about things like the Fish Fry, before and after it takes place. The love seeing and admiring the boards that I shape for the Fish Fry.

A Fish Fry in Médoc for 2010?
In 2010 the European Fish Fry will take place in Italy; it’s a great idea. As far as the Médoc, I’m quite keen for the following year if everything goes ok… we’ll see but it’s not me who chooses where it takes place… but I’ll be more than happy to host the event that has helped me so much as a shaper.

Niegà

P.S.: You can read this interview in French HERE and in Spanish HERE.

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