Joe Bauguess: Shaping History & Highlights
1963 was the year Joe Bauguess shaped his first ‘professional’ surfboard at Austin-Baird Surfboards in Surfside, CA, Next to the newly growing concern of Kanvas by Katin surfwear. After many shaping room sessions watching friends, Stu Herz and Steve Pezman shape the boards of the era, he was fortunate to be introduced to Larry Wiese of Crow Surfboards fame who was shaping for Carbonell Surfboards. The “Crow”, as it were, took Joe under his wing to learn the finer points of shaping. After 6 months of rough-shaping blanks for him and completing his overload, Larry (“Crow”) went to work full time as a chemist for Shell Oil and Joe took over as head shaper for Bob Carbonell. He lived in Huntington Beach where he shared a house with surfing shapers, Stu and Steve. A house they shared with semi-permanent ‘guest’ Bill Fury, that was frequently visited by such surfing stars as Jackie Baxter, Tom Lonardo and John and ‘little brother’ Herbie Fletcher among others. After having several custom boards made for himself and never getting EXACTLY what he ordered, he vowed to become a shaper who would so master the art that he would be able to talk to his customer and glean from them the exact board they envisioned and then sculpt that vision into reality in foam. To that end he has been quite successful with many satisfied customers and their accolades and positive feedback.
1967 Joe decided to go to Hawaii not only to fulfill the surfer’s dream of riding the beautiful, powerful waves there but also his own dream, to live there and build the boards to ride them. He started making surfboards in an old shack he called home his first months in Hanalei under the Kauai Surfboards label. Dick Brewer was one his most admired fellow shapers and a veteran designer/shaper of Hawaiian-style surfboards. Dick came to Kauai to shape some guns for Joey Cabell and used Joe’s Hanalei shop to build the complete boards. Brewer liked Kauai so much he asked Joe if he wanted to go partners in a big building for Kauai Surfboards & Brewer Surfboards. The Hanapepe Surf Shop was the result and it was the focus of cutting edge surfboard design and frequented by luminaries of the surfing world in a psychedelic age. Joe shaped all the Kauai Surfboards orders and a large number of the Brewers in a double bay with a short wall between so Dick and he could communicate and compare shapes. Gerry Lopez and Reno Abillaria were among Brewer’s star pupils in “Shaping 1-A and his and Joe’s surfing pals at “Infinities” (Pakala on the south west side of Kauai). Joe met Mike Diffenderfer on the North Shore of Oahu and they became instant friends and brothers in shaping. When “Diff” moved to Kauai he taught Joe the art of building ‘hollow’ chambered balsa wood surfboards.On completion of his first one, he granted himself a P.H.D. in shaping.
1963…AGAIN…At this point, lets go back to Joe’s greatest influence to follow the path of the shaper. Dale Velzy shaped one of Joe’s first custom boards and allowed him the great privilege of hanging out in his shop on PCH in Newport Beach to watch while he shaped it. Velzy impressed Joe with his independent,casual style and his ‘approachability’ for a guy who was a legend in his own time, even then, when he’d ‘only’ been shaping 25 years. After spending a couple of days with Dale Velzy shaping and talking about his adventures and after witnessing a beautiful, well dressed young woman come into his disheveled shop, ankle deep in foam dust, just to visit and bask in the glow of his handsomely rugged presence. Joe politely asked to clean off an old milk bottle crate for her to sit on and she said she was “used to it”. That did it! As Joe said: “I didn’t just want to be LIKE him, I wanted to BE him
1981 marked an end of an era for Bauguess as he moved from Kauai to the snow country of Bend, Oregon. After a trip to the Columbia river gorge with some winter skier/summer windsurfer guys he figured the type of board most suited to the extreme wind and water surface conditions at the gorge was one similar to a Hawaiian big wave board with lots of nose rocker to deflect the heavy chop and a pintail to hold in on turns. Soon he was shaping high wind sail boards in Bend and taking them up to the gorge to sell to the hard core sailors during the summer and fall.
1985 Joe Moved to Hood River to establish Guess What Sailboards and consequently learned to windsurf in the extreme conditions he would design and build boards for. During his tenure in the gorge, he was commissioned by Connelly Water Ski Co. in Redmond, Washington to co-design and solo shape knee boards for towing behind ski boats and then a new water ski prototype. The next project involved Joe’s building of some of the first wake boards and later prototypes which were used first in competition at the X-Games and then molded for mass production. One of his prototypes was ridden by Jeremy Kovak, the winner of the gold medal. His reputation as a shaper/designer in the world of hydronamic ‘toys’ was growing and it was considered a mark of distinction and status to own one of his craft as they were all hand built from shape to paint to glass to sand to gloss to polish by one man, Joe. He learned the art and craft of building high-tech vacuum-laminated composite boards through colleagues in the small sailboard industrial community which have been recently been applied to surfboard production on a global scale. During his years in the gorge he met many wave surfers and always found time to shape the odd surfboard just to keep in touch with his roots along with winter trips to Baja and Costa Rica to continue surfing and windsurfing year round.
1998 winter looked like a good time to leave the great cold Northwest and head South, back to his roots. San Diego was an easy place for a good shaper to find work and he soon met Mike Eaton and slipped into the shaping slot there. Mike was only too happy to teach Joe the technique he developed with the Cambell Bros for shaping Bonzer surfboard designs as well as his complete line of Eaton boards as Joe did the majority of shaping, even most of the custom orders. At that time Eaton was producing surfboards for his long time friend, Bing Copeland so Joe shaped all the Bing surfboards that were made from 1999 to 2002 when Mike and Bing ended their agreement.
2002 Southward to Costa Rica was Joe’s next major move and it wasn’t long before he would be shaping surfboards there using his old Kauai Surfboards labels. His Costa Rican, Ola de Oro logo would come later. In the meantime he continued to be in close touch with Mike Eaton and made yearly trips back to San Diego to shape Mike’s backed-up orders as Mike was involved with the more lucrative paddleboard shaping. Mike Eaton Retired and sold his shop and house and moved to Hawaii in 2007.
2006 While on one of his many shaping stints at Eaton’s, he had the occasion to get an order from someone who wanted a short version of an old Bob Simmons board. He knew Joe had restored a 9′ 1950 Simmons balsa for John Elwell in 2001 and had shaped several accurate foam replicas for John and a few others. Joe asked for and was granted “artist’s license” in terms of the entire project which pretty much included the plan-shape, rocker, thickness-distribution, rails, edges and all the above for the twin fins it was designed to use. This became the World’s First and Original Mini-Simmons, designed and shaped from a shapeless block of Styrofoam and named by Bauguess. The little board (Nick-named “Casper” by the owner’s girlfriend because of its all white on white finish, its user-‘friendliness’ [friendly ghost] and it conjured the spirit of Bob Simmons ‘hydrodynamic’ endeavors), shook the foundations of modern surfing, and started a revolution in shorter, wider, thicker surfboards. The Swift Movement contracted Bauguess to build the Mini-Simmons on an exclusive limited edition basis in conjunction with a film they had in production called “Hydronamica”. After 3 years he decided to do as he has for the last 47 years, go SOLO and shape strictly CUSTOM SHAPED boards for individual surfers to THEIR specifications. He believes that his boards were priced out of range of the average-income earning surfer while getting moderate exposure in the retail shops where they were being sold.
This website is for YOU the individual to be able to see what is available and discuss with Joe your exact needs and desires in a new board.