Buying a Custom Surfboard, Pat Taylor 

One of the biggest milestones you’ll ever have as a surfer is buying your first custom surfboard. It’s even more special to be able to get one from a legendary surfer and shaper, doubly special in Santa Cruz, CA. I get a chance to tag along with a friend and interview one of Santa Cruz’s legendary shapers, Pat Taylor.

Pat Taylor is a low key hard to find surfboard shaper who has been making surfboards in Santa Cruz for over 30 years. He has shaped for many notable surfers such as Richard Schmidt, Shawn “Barney” Baron, Josh “Homer” Mulcoy, Ruffo, Pat O’Neill, Bryce Ellis, Adam Repogle, Barton Lynch, and Marcel Soros. – Santa Cruz Waves


Why is a custom surfboard significant?

Most surfers enjoy the sport as a hobby. As for many recreational activities and passions, time and money invested can be costly. You want to think long and hard before you make a decision on the type of experience want. The significance of buying a custom surfboard is not because it’s a cool, but rather a surfer’s skill level has progressed to graduate from mastering their current surfboard.

Why get a custom surfboard?

As with all individuals, we have our own uniqueness. As for Frank’s personal style, he knew what he wanted. Buying a surfboard off the rack doesn’t provide that level of personalization. Many of today’s surfboards are mass produced or not shaped from the actual shaper you’re buying from. The benefit of buying a custom surfboard, shapers provide consultations and design equipment based on your style and preference resulting in better experiences in the water. Shapers build a surfboard to meet your every demand whether it’s performance, design or uniqueness.

Questions to think about if you’re looking to purchase a custom surfboard.

  1. Where do you surf? What beach breaks do you surf?
  2. What’s the average size of waves you’re comfortable riding?
  3. What is your height?
  4. What is your weight?
  5. What surfboard are you riding today?
  6. Overall what are you looking for in a surfboard? What kind of experience do you want?

Frank was riding a 8′ Santa Cruz pumpkin seed. He wanted more maneuverability of a shortboard, something smaller but a feel of a larger board. Frank’s ride style demanded more and he knew he had to upgrade his equipment to something he couldn’t find mass produced on a rack.

Why get a custom surfboard from a particular shaper?

Frank had noticed Taylor Made surfboards at local beach breaks while in the line up. Typically, depending on conditions and the location of the beach break, different surfboards will do better compared to others. Northern California waves can be harsh, choppy, small, big and close out quickly. The style and surfboard Frank wanted was something that could handle a wide array of conditions to maximize his time in the water.

Pat Taylor, a legend, does all the work from start to finish. Truly handmade.

Frank’s Review Process

  1. Frank reviewed Pat Taylor’s catalog on Instagram
  2. Noticed surfboards in the local lineup and asked for feedback
  3. Compared Pat Taylor to other shapers
  4. Scheduled a consultation with Pat Taylor

After Frank’s review, Pat Taylor’s style resonated in comparison to other shapers he sought. There was a connection to Pat’s style that naturally drew Frank to learn more and ultimately make his decision.

Frank decided to get his first custom surfboard from Pat Taylor. In addition, Pat Taylor’s history of shaping surfboards since 1978 reassured him that he was going to get a quality product from a master shaper. But even more so, today’s shapers mass produce and have a team of “groms” (apprentices) that will do the majority of the shaping. Pat Taylor, a legend, does all the work from start to finish. Truly handmade.

The Pick Up

Main differences: Faster, nimble, cuts sharper and is more responsive

  • 1″ thinner
  • 7″ shorter
  • Thruster setup
  • 7’5″ pintail
  • Polyurethane
  • Bigger and comparable as an 8′ board
  • Strong stability
  • Custom green rails
  • White body
  • Great all around board, true hybrid.

“Nobody else is going to touch this board from the bottom up. No digital formulas, no computers. All by hand and eye.” – Pat Taylor

Once we arrived, Frank was stoked. Pat revealed the pintail and it was exactly as Frank had imagined. Pat explained exactly what he did in a step by step process. Pat took his time to meticulously shape the board based on his experience and Frank’s style. Since it was hand shaped, Frank’s pintail is one of kind. Frank’s Taylor Made surfboard is 1 of 480 customs made from Pat Taylor this year. But most important, it exceeded performance allowing Frank to have more fun in the water.

Buying a custom surfboard is critical in a surfers growth. The time that a surfer masters his/her’s equipment can take years. And the only way to grow as a surfer is to continue to love the joy of riding waves. Frank found it.

Everything I asked for I got. From the performance, speed, maneuverability and even the color. It’s rare to get exactly what you want as a consumer today without having to settle. – Frank De Levi

If you have any suggestions or feedback on shapers or surfboards that you would like me to review, please comment. I hope you enjoyed this edition of My Surf Blog. Make sure you sign up to the newsletter for new reviews and also follow on Instagram to see the next adventure.

If you would like to order a custom surfboard from Pat Taylor or find out more information you can call him direct at (831) 462-6191 or visit and follow on Instagram. To check out in person, you can also visit


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