The “Tooth” About Sharks

It has been estimated that sharks have been around for at least some 500 million years. Unfortunately, due to effects caused by mankind and modern civilization sharks may not be around that much longer.

Though many in the world react with fear at the mention of sharks and consider them dangerous it is a well known fact that the amount of sharks eaten by humans is infinitesimally larger in amount to humans eaten by sharks. In fact though shark attacks around the world are rare and infrequent attacks on sharks have dramatically increased to the point of possible species extinction. It appears the sharks have to worry way more about humans than humans do sharks.

Of the approximately 300 or so shark attacks that occur around the world each year it”s been estimated 45% of them are on surfers.

Of recreational beach users most attacked by sharks surfers are number 1 with swimmers and divers an equal but distant second. From the surface a surfers silhouette can easily be mistaken for a seal or large turtle by a shark looking upward. Surfers are easy targets, but in truth most shark attacks are an accidental case of mistaken identity. If sharks were really after surfers there would be a lot less surfers around. Surprisingly as infamous as sharks are very little is really known about them.

Most sharks offer little or no harm to humans despite their aggressive reputation.

Three sharks that can be extremely harmful and aggressive to humans are the Great White (Carcharodon carcharias), Tiger (Galeocerdo cavier) and Bull ( Carcharhinus leucas) sharks.

Perhaps the most feared of all sharks is the Great White thanks partially to the Hollywood movie Jaws. Long considered the most dangerous of all sharks only the Killer Whale (Orcinus orca) is equaled as a marine macro predator. Great Whites principally dwell of temperate continental shelf waters such as off the mainland U.S, and Australian coasts, although they have been spotted in tropical waters off of Hawaii. They can grow up to 25 feet or more weighing thousands of pounds. A Great White attack is primarily feared because it can kill a large man with a single bite. Alas human activities such as over fishing and industrial pollution have caused the Great Whitefs population to substantially decline. Some studies claim the Great Whites population has decreased 79% in the last 15 years. Great White sightings are becoming more rare.

Tiger sharks can grow very big and are considered very dangerous. Full grown Tiger sharks can reach up to 20 feet and weigh over three thousands pounds large enough to attack a small boat which they have been known to do. Tiger sharks prefer warmer tropical waters usually swimming far offshore during the days and coming close in to the reefs and shoreline to feed at night or early morning. Take note, Tiger sharks sometimes swim close in during prime daytime hours. Tiger sharks like other sharks are unpredictable sometimes coming all the way to shore in water so shallow most of their body becomes exposed. Like the jungle animal with the same name Tiger sharks are fierce well-tuned predators.

Not nearly as large as great Whites or Tiger sharks many experts consider the Bull shark the most dangerous of all. Some believe Bull sharks have made more attacks on humans than both the Great White and Tiger sharks. This little buggah is fierce. Adult male bull Sharks reach heights of up to about 7 feet; females are typically 11 to 12 feet weighing up to 500- plus pounds. Bull sharks are known to be most aggressive and can be very dangerous. Bull sharks considered apex predators eat anything and everything. Contents taken from the stomachs of bull sharks have included everything from hippopotami to bicycle tires and yes human remains. Where Great Whites and Tiger sharks generally prefer deeper water Bull sharks tend to prefer shallow water increasing the chances for contact with surfers and swimmers. Amazingly the bull shark has the ability to adapt to fresh water and has been spotted far up the Mississippi, Ganges, Amazon and other fresh water rivers. Tragically the Bull shark population is drastically declining due to environmental fall out and over fishing for commercial use. This gallant warrior is eaten in all coastal areas and its sharkskin used as leather.

Despite the fact that surfers have more of a chance of being attacked by sharks than anyone on earth surfers may well be among the first to defend the honor and recognize the right for sharks to exist.

Sharks are an important part of lifefs natural balance and harmony; surfing would not be surfing with out them. In truth shark sightings are rare and seeing one should be considered good luck in more than one way. Sharks occupy a position at the top of the food chain in a sense they are the Gods of the sea. They play a major role in controlling both the diversity and abundance of other species within the ocean community.

A lot can be learned from sharks such as the Great White, Tiger and Bull sharks. How much longer will sharks exist? Up until now sharks have survived the test of time. One thing for sure, it will be interesting to see if mankind can last 500 million years. Only time will tell. Aloha sea you in the surf.


The Willis Bros. are surfing experts recognized for surfing the worlds largest waves and teaching thousands in Hawaii and California to surf.

Michael Willis Surfboard Shaping


Knowledge on how to shape a great surfboard and surfboard designs are prized and kept mostly secret. In the past a shapers designs could be considered magic, were protected as such and still are. Ability to earn a living, attract and keep surfers on their shapes and an earnest desire to build a better surfboard have contributed to the cloak and dagger secretiveness of shaping Gurus. Professional surfers, hard-core enthusiasts and surfers around the world have benefited from shapers dedicated to excellence, hardwork, and service. Surfer’s owe thanks to the spirit of the surfboard shaper.

Paying Dues

In the beginning just to break into the shaping field one might have to apprenticeship repairing dings, sweeping up and cleaning the shaping room for at least five years before finally getting a chance to shape a board under the watchful eye of a tutor. The whole process of shaping a surfboard remained as mystical as the waves they were meant to ride. That is until computers and programmers and big business got into the act.

Modern times have eliminated much of the hand shapers as they struggle to survive against the machine and mass-produced surfboards. To help preserve the art of shaping surfboards WBsurfing offers fundamental information on how to shape a surfboard.

Shaping goes Global

Creative breakthroughs in surfboard design and function come from those willing to push the limits and experiment with new and fresh ideas and designs. Dedicated surfboard shapers from around the world have helped make surfing what it is today. Australians like Wayne Lynch, Cheyne Horan, and Bob McTavish have seen the future and sparked a full design revolution. Independent thinking Californians like Duncan and Malcolm Camble, Carl Eckstrom, Mike Hynson, Rusty Presendorfor, Al Merrick all helped define the modern surfboard. Hawaiian shapers like Ben Aipa, Dick Brewer, Gerry Lopez, Glen Minani, Eric Arakawa, George Downing, Harold Iggy, Pat Rawson are just a few of the great shapers to shape the rockets that propelled surfboard performance to the outer limits. Great shapers also come from Japan, Brazil Europe and other places from around the world.

Becoming a master Foamsmith

The combination of 3 dimensional curves and proportions that make up a surfboard are literally endless. Ultimately be it a long board, short board, concave or vee bottom or a new design you wish to try, you will need to know how to take what you see in your mind and transfer it to your hands to shape your dream surfboard.

For optimum shaping conditions, surfboards are shaped in rooms specifically designed for shaping. Shaping rooms a.k.a. shaping bays are usually narrow, painted dark and with no windows, and designed to be sound proof. Surfboard shaping roomShaping racks are especially designed so the blank can be seen and worked on from different angles. They should be centered and adjusted to a comfortable height, usually around waist level. Eight-foot long fluorescent lights are installed slightly higher shaping rack height, parole with the floor. A shelf over the light projects the right amount of light back to the shape and also shields the shapers eyes from glare. Shapers use the contrast of the dark walls and light along with shadows on the blank to “seeEthat the shape stays true.

Some surfboard factories will rent out a shaping room and provide all the necessary tools and templates. If this isn’t available never fear, the late Ricky Rassmussen, United States surfing champion would shape a surfboard with no electricity and only with hand tools in exotic locations like Mexico and the jungles of Indonesia. Florida’s Greg Loehr would shape boards in a tent with just a light bulb in the early E0’s on the north shore in Hawaii. Their shapes came out great.

While some tools used for shaping are specifically designed most are standard carpentry tools. Hand saw, surfoarm, electric planner, (Hitachi or skill 100 are the most popular), hand block plane, sanding block and a soft foam pad.Surfboard shaping tools Also needed: a level, t-square, tape measure and calipers (to measure thickness), a pencil, sandpaper in 40, 80, and 100 grit, and a sheet of 80 grit sanding screen. Don’t forget a shaping particle dust mask and protective eyewear and earwear.

Getting Started

Shaping a good surfboard is not guess work. With a good plan based on accurate expert knowledge your very first shape can be great. Know before you shape what it is you would like your finished shape to look like. Use a surfboard you already like as a model. Study the rails especially the bottom curve of the rail. Use a level to see if the bottom shape is flat, concave or has vee. Notice how some outlines are more pleasing to the eye than others and how the curves flow together.

Start by choosing the blank best suited for the shape and as close to the finished height and thickness as possible.

Mowing the foam “planning”

With the electric planner take a thin cut to remove the “crustE Planner cuts should be done slowly so the foam doesn’t rip or tear. Planning a blank is called “mowing foamEbecause the cuts are even and overlapping like mowing a lawn. Make the first cut around the outline of the board and then follow that line. Go from one side of the blank until one final cut down the wood stringer and overlapping onto the opposite side the width of a planner blade. Now start on the outside of the other side, working toward the center. Cuts should be level and smooth. Remember you can always take away foam but you cannot put it back, so take your time and shape with sensitivity and awareness. Enjoy the process. Rushing and not checking measurements twice will slow you down and produce mediocre results.

Template: Starting your outline

Once the bottom has been “skinnedEit is time to draw on the template or outline. Shapers universally measure with a t-square using the stringer as the centerline. Nose width is measured a foot back from the tip of the blank, tail width is measured one foot up from the tail block. Wide point is usually close to the center. Measure surfboards you like to find out Surfboard shaping templatesmeasurements that will work best for you. Once you have plotted out your outline measurements it is time to draw on the template.

Many shapers rely on others curves and take templates off others shapes to duplicate the curves they like. Master shapers with much practice can use a baton to produce desired outline curve creating original outlines. Take time to appreciate the many different types of outlines surfers use to ride waves. Some prefer wide shapes while others like narrow thin boards. Different size and types of waves require different shapes.

Before cutting out the template and after, stand the board up and really look at the outline curve. Are there flat spots? Straight spots in the curve? How about bumbs or dips? When cutting out the outline its very important to keep the saw straight at a 90 degree angle. Cut about a 1/16Eaway from the line allowing a little room to come back and true up the outline. Usually bumps or dips are the result of a sloppy cut out. If this happens you maySurfboard shaper have to re-template and carefully true up the outline. Try and use the entire length of the surfoarm or sanding block.

Truing up the outline. Turn the board on itsEside to sight down the outline, looking for high and low spots. One side at a time run the surform slowly and smoothly around the outline taking the excess foam down to the pencil line of the outline. Now walk the outline end to end with sandpaper and a flat sanding block until the outline is perfect.

Rocker: Bottom curve

Now is the time to shape in the bottom design and put in the rocker. Rocker is the overall curve from the tip of the nose to the tail. Most surfboards have a gentle rocker for release in the tail and a smooth entry rocker for catching waves and taking steep drops. Too much tail or nose rocker will make a board paddle slow and push water. It is important to select a blank that is close to the finished rocker as possible. . Most surfboard bottom designs use a combination of flat or concave in the center with slight roll towards the rails. Using the measurements of a surfboard you know works can be very helpful. After the bottom design and rocker have been shaped it is time to skin the deck of the surfboard bringing the board to the desired thickness in the nose, middle and tail. Most surfboards have the thickest part at the wide point.

Turning the rails

Now that the thickness foil, rocker and bottom contour have been shaped in, it is time to turn the rails. Thickness of the rail determines a surfboards sensitivity and floatation. Again before shaping your own board look at many surfboard and see how the rails blend into the deck and bottom. Generally the bottom edge is very hard in the tail for water release. In the middle rails are softer with some roundness so they won’t catch or dig into the wave. Personal taste and experience will help you find the rail volume that best suits your surfing. Rail templates can be used if desired.Shaping the surfboards rails

Taking a flexible wire and bending it around the shape of yourfavorite rail will make rail templates.

Working the top of the square rail or deck line down will determine how thick and low the rails end up. Keep that square and work the line down, blending or doming it into the deck. Once the deck or top line of the rail is as desired, hold off on putting on the bottom rail.


Sand out the bottom of the board with rough grit sandpaper and a sanding block. Be sure and keep the stringer level with the blank by constantly going over it with the hand block plane.Now repeat the process smoothing the deck and rails. Repeat the process using finer grit sand paper.

It’s now time to add the bottom rail. Begin by taking long smooth surform cuts on the bottomHand surfboard shapingedge of the square. Take care not to go to far into the bottom of the surfboard or to high toward the deck.Once the bottom rail is just how you want it, break out the sanding screen and begin the transition of blending the top and bottom rails together. Pay close attention to the bottom edge. High performance surfboards have hard rails in the tail with some roll in the middle and nose.

Go back and check your measurements in the nose middle and tail to make sure they are still accurate. Check nose tip and tail for symmetry. Nose tip and tail shapes are the signature of a shaper and add a style or look to a shape. Go over your bottom and make sure it is even on both sides. Your shape is now ready to mark the fins and send to the glasser

Rip Currents, Undertows, and Longshore Currents

Is a rip tide a surfersf friend? Do undertows actually exist and if so what are they? Are ocean long shore currents dangerous even for advanced surfers?

Chances are if you know the correct answers to these questions you are a dedicated surfer. If you do not know the answers to these simple questions take the time to find the answers. Even if you do not plan to recreationally use the ocean chances are you know and care for some one who will. By taking the time to share ocean safety knowledge you may be taking the time to save a life. Share the knowledge.

rip_ani3Rip tides in reality are rip currents (there is no such thing as a rip tide), and yes they are an experienced surfers friend. Smart surfers use rip currents to get quickly to the waves with the least amount of expended energy paddling. Surfers smart enough to use rip currents are going with and using the ocean Rip Current flow. Surfers not smart enough to use the rip currents go against the ocean flow, expend unnecessary energy and make getting to the waves more difficult than it should be. Many times the best waves are found right along side of rip currents. Surfers who understand rip currents use them to full advantage.

Swimmers and inexperienced surfers who do not understand rip currents can get into real trouble. A rip current can swiftly pull a hapless swimmer from shallow water into deeper water sometimes far out to sea. Eighty percent of ocean rescues involve swimmers caught in rip currents. In the old days if caught in a rip current it was advised for a swimmer to swim parallel to the beach. Rip currents however do not always run specifically straight out, many times a rip current can run parallel or diagonal to the beach before heading out to sea. The best thing do if you are ever caught in a rip current is to swim for the closest waves. Remember where the waves are water is coming in, in between the waves is where water goes out.

Rip currents are associated more with the surf than they are the tides. Generally, the higher the waves become the more substantial the rip currents will be. Most rip currents begin along or on the shore. Watch the long shore feeder currents along the shore and they will reveal where a rip current begins and where it is going. As waves wash completely up the beach follow the water back out, notice where it goes. Rip currents often look like choppy or muddy rivers flowing away from shore.

Undertows are believed to be currents that pull swimmers under the water. Though rip currents which can pull swimmers out to sea do exist, undertows do not. There are no currents that will pull a swimmer under and keep him there. A swimmer may get knocked temporarily under by a wave but an ocean current will never take a swimmer under.

drift_diag12Long Shore Currents Long shore currents which run parallel to the shore can be dangerous in some cases to both swimmers and surfers. In addition to water currents constantly coming in and out water currents are constantly moving one way or the other along the shore. Many surfers choose some type up a beach marker before going out to the waves in order to maintain position and keep from drifting down the beach. Many a surfer has gone out surfing in one place and ended up coming back in to a completely different place way up or down the beach.

Life has its very own rip currents, undertows and long shore currents. All you have to do is recognize the currents around you. Some are currents are very real others that appear real do not actually exist at all. Go with the ones that are positive and get off the ones that may not be. If you do not see the currents going on around you, you are like a swimmer who does not understand the currents of the sea. If you see and understand how to positively use the currents around you, give thanks and share the knowledge, you may save a life. Aloha

Waves and Life

Energy is the source of which everything is made of. Surfers ride waves of energy everyday.

In essence the ocean is not really moving, waves are bands of energy that flow through the ocean. As they near shore and shallower water the bottom of a swell starts to drag, slowing down, the top going faster begins to spill becoming a breaking wave. Experienced surfers have learned to recognize energy waves everywhere and begun to apply the value of lessons learned through surfing to everyday life. Everyone carries an ocean within. Life is the wave everyone wants to surf. It turns out the more surfers learn about surfing, the more they learn about life.

Surfing begins with respect.

Even the smallest wave has the whole ocean behind it. Surfers learn quickly the power and majesty of the mighty ocean. All life comes from the ocean. Ocean waves revel the very secrets of the universe for those willing to take time to observe. Surfers learn to go with the oceans natural flow or they do not last long. Those who harmonize with the rhythm, timing and flow of the ocean show their respect for the ocean by constantly being super aware of the moment and surroundings. Surfers who show respect to the ocean by remaining super aware while surfing benefit by becoming more aware overall even on land.

Just like surfing, life begins with respect.

It is best to remain constantly vigilant and aware least we become lost in the ocean of life. As a general rule, surfers cause their own wipeouts and create their best rides. The same can be said about life. Just like in surfing challenges and opportunity are everywhere and it is up to us to see them ahead of time. How do experienced surfers know when a big wave is coming? They look to the horizon. Use forward thinking and look to the horizon to see lifes waves before they come to be prepared. Always be thankful for each and every moment each and every day. There are no repeats in life. Those who respect the moment get the most out of it.

Surfing is all about taking responsibility for one’s self.

As surfers we have the freedom to choose which waves we want and where we want to be on a wave. It is each surfers responsibility to get themselves out to the waves and when finished surfing back to shore safely. Experienced surfers learn to rely on themselves only and to not jeopardize others. In life those who rely on themselves to achieve, and accomplish great things, understand and attain their goals, while others get swept away in the rip tide of life. If a surfer has a bad ride it is not the waves fault. Experienced surfers take responsibility for their performances. No one can ride the waves for you it is something surfers all do on their own. And the same experience transcends into everyday life.

Experienced surfers know the best waves are where they find them.

Equally as important as the wave is what a surfer does with the wave he is riding. There is no such thing as a good wave or a bad wave, just waves. One surfer looks out and says oh these waves are terrible today while another says the surf looks like fun, same ocean, same waves, two different viewpoints. Waves are what we think they are: life is what we think it is. For the first surfer the waves were terrible (to him) and so they where, he passed on surfing. The second surfer thought the waves were fun and thus they where. The second surfer went out enjoyed himself, was refreshed and became a better surfer for doing so. The difference between the two surfers is attitude. There is always something positive to find for the surfer who looks for the positive.

Knowledge opens the door of possibilities in surfing as well as life.

If you know what you are doing you can do it. If you do not know what you are doing all you can do is try. Knowledge is the only shortcut to success. Knowledge also saves lives. Knowing ahead of time what to do in different situations helps surfers stay calm even during the most harrowing wipeouts. Knowledge gives surfers the power to ride tidal waves and bravely go where no other men have ever gone. To understand more about life understand more about waves and the ocean world that surrounds us.

Just like an experienced surfer you should look at every moment as a new and fresh unfolding miracle Look for the best and try to learn from every situation.

In other words, treat all activities with respect, and take personal responsibility for growth, understanding, and success. If you honestly love something learn all you can about it and be the best you can be at it. Value and use every moment to improve your knowledge, health and life. Wake up looking for the good waves in life and you will find them. Look for something good and something good will happen. Something good is going to happen today! Sea you in the surf.