Manuel Mosquera (Xtorsion Surfboards)
Do you remember the first board you shaped?
Of course I do! but to be honest I don’t have a clue where it is now.
Considering the exponential growing of surf culture over the last years in our country, can you name the pros and cons of this growth?
I think this growing has been sustained over the last 20 years and the last two years it looks like it reached the peak and it wont stop. That’s good but on the other hand, the sport is losing ‘the vibe’ because of going mainstream. I really hope this can be used to form better people and to educate them about the ocean and the environment. For us, the shapers, ALL surfers are important: From the guy who comes to the water two times per year, to the local who surfs six hours daily.
On the shaping room, machine or by hand? pros and cons?
Machine, but it doesn’t mean the hand-shaping is avoided, we use the hand-shape process focusing on the most sophisticated details. Two years has passed since we built our machine and it never stops. The machine has given us more precision, repetition and speed.
To deploy the machine was strictly a business decision?
I was looking at this set up for at least 10 years and I’m really happy now. In my opinion, this is the future of shaping, it’s a different approach. I’m able to produce 20/30 boards per week.
Do you notice any trends in the current shapes? Is there any particular style which is more requested than other?
I really don’t. Each person has a different shape with different needs and with a different style.
Please describe a typical day in the shape room?
Basically, I prepare the models to be shaped, I set up the machine with the operator and once the shapes are done, I spend approximately 30 minutes over each board hand-shaping.
Do the customers usually take your advice or suggestions?
They don’t have any other option!!!! Hahahaha.
Since the situation in our country is not the best, how do you manage the lack of materials to shape?
It’s really affecting the industry. Mostly because when you have a big production, you don’t really know if you will have enough materials or it’s quality, causing a considerable waste of time and money. It’s really hard to get imported materials and when you get them the provider is free to put what price he wants.
Epoxy VS glass: Which do you choose and why?
According to the situation, one could be better than the other. In my experience, in boards with more foam thickness, the epoxy seems to work really well. Same with the polyester resin in shorter boards. But this is not a law and the results may vary.
What are your favourite shapes to work with and why do you like them?
I really love guns for big waves (8 feet and more). I love to shape thinking about the waves those boards will ride.
Lately the environmentalists criticise surf because the boards are (in their opinion) far from be eco-friendly. What is your opinion?
Is a phrase full of ignorance. The material used on surfboards is the same used in pillows, mattresses, car seats, planes and hundreds of other things, but no one is criticising that. Almost everything we eat, wear or consume effects the environment much more than a surfboard. It’s really important to analyse and think about it to generate a real change of mindset.
How do the pop-outs boards being made in Asia effect you commercially? How do you see the fact that some big names are also behind these productions?
I’m not seeing a lot of pop-outs around here. We have customers who really value our local work. They trust in our shapers and since our local shapers are true professionals, these brands can’t compete with us. The big brands need to produce a large amount of boards and that’s why they start to produce in China and Thailand. In my opinion these boards are pure shit and luckily we are safe from that right now.
Please name three shapers and three surfers that inspire you?
Surfers: Shane Dorian for his style and guts, Brad Gerlach for his radicalism and attitude, Kelly Slater for his ability that never ceases to amaze. Also, I feel like we’ve grown up together! He is my age and we shared the development of surfboards under his feet in the last two decades.
What are your five favourite surf spots in the world?
I’ll give you the spot that I enjoy: La Paloma, Diva, El Yacht, Honolua Bay, Punta Lobos, Santa Catalina and Hawaii, of course. It has a unique spirit.
Last one: Why do you surf?
For no reason, by no reason. It’s a moment of simplicity and communication between God and nature.
Check out Chille’s Punta de Lobas – one of Manu’s favourite spots
Words and images Santiago Videla