Interview with Bill McGill – local shaper

The modern surf industry is big business. Nowadays, board shorts cost more than the average Nosara families weekly food budget, fins the price of a stay at an upmarket hotel, and surfboards? Well, lets just say a stick-snapping wipeout at Camaronal or Ostional ain’t as economically viable as it used to be.

Nowadays, buying one of the more popular boards such as a Hypto Krypto or Pyzel, fins, leash, deck pad and all, can set you back over well a thousand bucks. Sadly, the soulful act of surfing, or more specifically, the equipment necessary to participate, has largely been taken over by a few behemoth corporations poised to earn billions from the sports ever growing popularity.

Thankfully however, one-man industries such as the local ding repair wizard are still as vital as they ever were. Consequently, when we got word of a small, local, independent operation creating high quality boards in a manner reflective of the cottage industry practices which reflect the very foundations of surfing, we had to find out more. With this in mind, took time to hang out with Bill Mcgill. Bill is a local expat shaper whose under the radar creations (which go by the name Storm Surfboards) have been subtly making a name for themselves as the perfect custom boards for Playa Guiones and beyond for quite some time now.
Where were you born?

Long Island, New York

What were the waves like?

The eastern end of Long Island can get a lot of swell. I had an inlet, beach breaks and jetties, a short boat ride across the bay.

When did you begin surfing?

In 1967 at ten years old. My school mate and I were hanging with his brother, Greg Smith, who was making boards and traveling to far off places with tales to tell, and I was hooked.

When and why did you begin shaping surfboards?

In 1972, Mark Gaines broke out a blank and started me on shaping boards. He was a great shaper fresh from a Maui trip.I knew I wanted to be a shaper since Greg Smith’s garage. Raz would stop in talking shapes with Greg, the boards were rockets. I had to learn to make the magic.

Who taught you, or were you self taught?
Mark Gaines was the first of many teachers – all the collaborators have been a great wealth. Getting into Florida at the young age of 21, I was fortunate to work with Flea Shaw in Flagler, and the William’s Brothers in Jensen Beach, great surfer/shapers. Rick Rasmusan’s shapes and the Harold Iggy influence are still with me today. Florida is a wealth of great shapers, full of surf towns. My travels have lead me to experience a lot of different great shapers from David Balzerac’s mini rockets to Jim Phillips’ progressive shapes, Bernie Crouch bringing in Harold Iggy to shape some boards for the locals. Many years of great exposure to some of the best. Carrying as much weight are your riders. They are the true progression in your shaping, and I’ve been very lucky and fortunate to have great surfers in this quest.

What was the first board you ever made? How did it ride?

I’m sure it was a tank and rode like one, but I probably loved it!

How many boards have you made since you began shaping?

Somewhere around 20,000+ boards

What do you consider the key elements and skills of being able to shape a great surfboard?

It’s all in the translation. From shape to feel. It’s a combination of eye, hand, body coordination and sculpting. A craft that performs. So it’s a combination of artistic and athletic abilities that get involved in this translation. And of course perseverance. And, you have to love it.

How long does it take you to finish shaping a board?

Can go from 2- 4 hours – depending on the shape.billmcgill4

When did you come to Costa Rica?

Been coming to CR since 1982.

Why did you choose Nosara?

The coves here offer amazing surf, and to shape in a place surrounded by so many great waves is the ultimate for a shaper.

How long have you been in nosara?

Two years.

What’s your favorite place to surf in and around the Nosara area?

Guiones right. And, the left is good too…

What type of board do you consider best suited to the waves at Playa Guiones?

It definitely calls for a special shape. For me this place is rocket fish heaven. The bottom here has a real, east coast feel with all the sand, gives you an opportunity to ride small boards in big waves. A lotta fun shaping for this place. Boards in the glider category to biscuit wafers ride this place. It’s pretty wide open.
If I want one of your boards how do I contact you?

Message us at Storm Equip. Surfboard via FaceBook.

Anything you wish to add?

As a lot of us here, I feel the beauty that is the dream and am very grateful to be here, now. And to feel the presence of Pura Vida from the land, the people – the feeling of home surrounded by watermen from the bays of Long Island to the bays of Guanacaste – feeling blessed to be a part of this community. Pura Vida, see you in the water!

If you’re interested in your own unique surfboard check Bill’s facebook page!

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