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openJosh Hall finally arrived in Lisbon on 22 November to kick off the Portuguese leg of his European shaping tour. Thankfully, the following day dawned bright and blue – a welcome change from the rain and clouds of the previous week, and perfect conditions for a trip along the coast.

We drove to Ericeira so that Josh could see some of Portugal’s best surf spots. The waves were huge, too big to get in, but at least Josh got an impression of how powerful the waves over here can be.

After a spot of lunch we headed off to the factory, which is located in a small village near Sintra. Nico, the owner, shaper and glasser, was there to greet us and show us where to start, and Josh checked out the blanks, the tools and the shaping bay. We stopped for a leisurely lunch – this is Portugal, after all – before Josh got to work on a 9’5 Big Fish Simmons out of a red cedar triple-stringer blank. The first board in new conditions is always the hardest to shape, so he eased himself into things.

dsc01747The blank was beautiful and shaped nicely, the cedar leaving a sweet smell in the bay. It’s a huge board for a fish standard, and watching Josh shape that one was really impressive. The way he worked on the bottom of that blank came as a surprise, and opened our minds to a whole new way of doing things. That’s the beauty of working with great shapers like Josh – you can learn to much from them. Josh was super willing to share, and we could have stood there for hours and hours listening to him talking about his boards or his connection to Skip Frye.

Day two, and Josh finished the Big Fish before starting on the small ones. By the end of the day he had produced a few more boards, including a nice twin keel and a Rocket Fish that particularly caught my attention. The Rocket looked like a winner, made to ride well on good waves like Supertubos! After a break for some Portuguese fast food Nico and Josh went back to work and finished another board that evening.

josh-hall-2009-20Wednesday was rainy and windy – perfect conditions for shaping! Josh shaped a couple of Mini Fish Simmons, a Skosh, and his most radical design: the Pescado Hinchado. At only 5’5, there are so many details that come together to make this an awesome board. It might look weird, but there’s a lot of thinking behind the design and when Josh explained it, it just made sense.

With just enough time left to shape a board for me, Josh’s work was almost done.

To be continued…

[Photos 1 & 3 by Hugo Correia]

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