Nicolas Grilli (Akua Surfboards)
Do you remember the first board you shaped?
Sorry but I don’t, my memory is really bad.
Considering the exponential growing of surf culture over last years in our country, can you name the pros and cons of this growth?
Hmm tough question… I think the growth is good for the sport, the surfers and everything related to it. Since surfers’ performance is getting better day by day, here and around the world, the shapers have to give their best on every board. The bad thing is there are too many people on the water both here and everywhere else. I really hope this sport starts to organise itself because on a good day, sometimes it’s almost too risky to surf with a line up of 100 guys – some of them with zero experience, some with no surf etiquette or in a bad mood. I always prefer a smaller wave with a small line up to a good size one that is overcrowded. A couple of weekends ago, I went to my spot, which is really close to here, and once I started paddling, I had five guys in my back wanting my position! Here in Argentina we have another “problem”: the surf keeps growing but Mar del Plata is a city with few waves or, if you prefer, ‘not very regular’ ones, for a lot of surfers. This year I was in Puerto Escondido and since you have a peak or beaches with nice waves everywhere, you can have a nice session almost alone. In relations to my work as a shaper, I think if we start to adapt our boards to our waves and not the opposite (such as riding a wave in Mar del Plata with a board shaped in Costa Rica), this will make a difference.
On the shaping room, machine or by hand? pro and cons?
I am a 24-hours hand shaper and in my opinion I can’t find anything negative in this way of shaping. The good thing? Take notes, haha: The feeling – hand shaping is like being a sculptor. With more machines on the market, my style is being revalued.
Do you notice any trends in the current shapes? Is there any particular style which is more requested than others?
Lately, surfers are looking for a ‘nice board’ – a board made with dedication and with valuable details. Not just the shape but paint, glass, terminations, everything is important. In relations to shapes, this year the mini Simmons seems to be the chosen one. In my opinion, this shape is really versatile.
The paintings and designs on the boards have a “Californian” look and feel to them, are they your creations?
Thanks! I share the ideas and designs with my girlfriend. We are both are designers, and we really want to develop our own style. At first, we customised the boards just like the customer wanted it, but lately we prefer to offer some variations in our designs. It was a hard process to maintain our style, but it was worth it. Our ethos is to offer a mix between shaping and art.
Please describe a typical day in the shape room?
Since I don’t just shape (I also sand, glass and paint), I don’t have to be in the shape room every day. Usually, I complete two boards per week, so I spend one or two days shaping and the rest of the week I’m painting or sanding. But there are somethings I don’t want to change: My friends visiting me to drink some beverages and to talk about surf, of course! Haha!
Do the customers usually take your advice and suggestions?
I’m a lucky guy! My customers are always open to suggestions either for the shaping process or for the art designs. This allows me to be really creative.
Since the situation in our country is not the best, how do you manage the lack of material to shape?
Since my production is not really big (maybe 80/90 boards per year), I can afford to keep using imported materials. I travel out of the country at least once per year and in those trips I bring home the materials I need.
Epoxy VS glass: Which do you choose and why?
I choose glass. The foam and the polyester are the elements I feel comfortable with.
How do the pop-outs boards being made in Asia (China/Korea) effect you commercially? How do you see the fact that some big names are also behind these productions?
I’m not affected at all. there are surfers with different needs and if the pop-outs work for them, it’s ok, but im pretty sure that those boards are soulless piece of plastic. Haha!
Please name three shapers and three surfers who inspire you?
Shapers: Renato from Argentina – he is a truly inspiring teacher, Bushman from Hawaii and Rodrigo Gamarra from Peru.
Surfers: Rob Machado, Dave Rastovich and a couple of friends!
What are your five favourite surf spots in the world?
From Argentina: Acantilados. Around the world: South Chile, Lima(Peru) and Zicatela (Mexico)
Last one: Why do you surf?
Because it makes me happy. Simple as that. Sometimes I’ll notice that I’m not surfing enough because I’m not totally happy!