The surf industry in Oregon is a unique thing. I had a lot of time to think about it, driving two hours away from the ocean and my home, to a major industry event (Oregon standards mind you) in Portland. It would be easy for me to feel bitter about this, and I will be the first to admit that a little of that creeped inside my brain as I drove through traffic, contemplating why a surf event wouldn’t be located somewhat close to surf. But reality is reality, and Portland is the major source of population, jobs, income, and probably the largest source of surfers in Oregon, and that’s not changing anytime soon.
Upon arriving, I was surprised to be met by a line out the door. Once in, I started to walk around and check out everyones work. It seems the shaping industry in Oregon, while still very young, and almost a little naive with enthusiasm, is alive and well, and admittedly beginning to flourish. With more than a dozen shapers from around the northwest present to showcase their stuff, there was a wide range of styles, shapes, and ideas on display. There were some standout veterans, whose work was a level above the rest, showing serious craftsmanship in every aspect of their work. On the opposite side of the spectrum, there were some obvious newcomers, whose enthusiasm and stoke made up for their lack of time in the shaping bay.
The event also featured a couple of superb photography displays, which captured the feeling of surfing in Northwest beautifully, without being overly obvious as to where the shots were, or feeling like the images were staged. The displays seemed a little neglected in the corners of the building, but I enjoyed them thoroughly.
I also was very impressed by a small, but professional looking accessory startup, manufacturing fins by using recycled materials. The couple that owned the startup were very friendly and enthusiastic about their product, and their first run of product which was on display, looked great.
Overall, Shaping the Northwest was a great event, and to anyone’s standards a success. WIth a maxed out crowd, and a beer line wrapping around the downstairs, there’s no denying the stoke and enthusiasm about the budding surf industry in Oregon. A couple times during the night, I sighed and contemplated how rad it would be if even half of this enthusiasm and drive to create would make its way coastal. There were a few coastal shapers that showed up, representing very well, and maybe more will follow their lead seeing their success. One thing I did come away with; its obvious that the shaping scene in the northwest has boomed in the past few years, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing up.