He guided Vecchione through every step until he had a beautiful six-foot board for his now ex-wife. When he saw her ripping on it in the water, he says, “It made me feel really good, in my heart, to know that I created that kind of enjoyment for somebody.” He made one for himself, too, and enjoyed it just as much. Within six months, he founded Vec Surfboards and shaping became his full-time job. He learned from mentors like Dick Brewer and Billy Hamilton, but ultimately, he says, shaping requires a talent that can’t be taught. In 2007, after years of shuffling between Hawaii and Cape Cod, he came back east for good.
The craft of surfboard shaping has been around as long as surfing itself. Thousands of years ago, Hawaiian craftsmen toppled trees and sliced them into rideable dimensions with an ax. Now, the stock boards in surf shops are generally spit out by computerized lathes with a shaper adding finishing touches at the end. But custom surfboards, tailored to the physique and style of the rider and contoured for specific types of waves, are a cornerstone of upper-echelon surfing. “You would never see a pro surfer walk into a shop and buy a board off the rack,” Vecchione says.