SHAPERS CORNER – SHAWN WRIGHT
Alliance Wake: What led you to start shaping wake surfboards and how was Brigade born?Shawn Wright: I was introduced to wakesurfing back in 2011 when Brigade was born in my garage in Eagle, Id. I was immediately hooked to the idea that you could surf on any lake in the world and not be confined to the coast. We started shaping our own boards in the garage because there wasn’t anything out there yet that really felt like a surfboard or responded like a real surfer, plus we wanted to customize them with our own graphics and designs. Being home grown here in a small town in Idaho, I never thought I would have the opportunity to be a surfer and now I own a company that designs and builds boards in Idaho, it’s crazy.
AW: Your boards are made in the USA with American made materials, why is this important?SW: Yeah absolutely. Being USA made is a huge thing for all of us here at Brigade House. There is no better feeling to know all our shapers sign their own name on the board and are able to stamp that USA flag on our boards with pride. It also gives our company a stronger leg to stand on when we compare ourselves to the competition and sell to customers that we are a USA company home grown in a garage. Everyone likes an underdog story, and Brigade is that story.
AW: How is your shaping influenced by your location?
SW: Well the biggest and toughest thing about shaping surfboards in Idaho is that we have no local resources. It’s not like I’m in California where you can just walk down the street to your foam supplier, fin supplier, or just put an ad on craigslist looking for board shapers. I’m literally finding kids from high schools, teaching buddies how to shape boards and lay fiberglass. Although, since we have started Brigade it’s awesome to see the surf scene and interest we have created in our area. We get calls from kids all the time asking for advice how to shape boards in their Dad’s tool shed that’s in the backyard of a potato farm (laughs.) It’s Awesome!
AW: Are there any new technologies you are integrating into your boards?
SW: New Tech, and being innovative has always been something Brigade is known for. Our big one right now is integrating wireless charging LED lights into our boards. We released them at Surf Expo last year and blew people away. Having legend shapers and companies we looked up to when we started Brigade stopping by our booth in disbelief (that we were able to figure it out) was definitely a bucket list moment. And it’s only the beginning, we have some new stuff in the works that our R&D team showed me recently and I was in disbelief.
AW: Who is your biggest shaping influence?
SW: The answer to this one is a little out of left field. In my mind the biggest shaping influence for Brigade isn’t the legends we looked up to. It’s the next kid I find on instagram or stops into our shop for a tour. Those are the real influencers of our company and sport. They are the fresh ideas that haven’t been thought of yet. The concepts that only come from fresh outlooks and new minds. Those are the exciting influencers I see for Brigade.
AW: What advice would you give to someone to find the perfect board?
SW: My advice would be to ride them all until you find what you like. Get involved with some of these surf fests out there. Where you can ride every boat wave and try all the different board manufacturers in a weekend. The other advice is to ask your shaper. When someone calls us wanting to find their perfect board I’ll give them a short list of questions and a 10 minute phone conversation and we can set you up with a perfect board.
AW: What is the biggest lesson learned in your shaping career?
SW: Keep it fun. As soon as surfing turns into a job, what’s the point. Also, surround yourself with a creative team. You can’t do it by yourself, so teach what you know and let the next generation of your company show you something new. Something you never thought of when it comes to shapes, graphics and marketing. You are only as good as the people around you. And I am lucky to say I have the best team in the industry.
AW: Can we find your boards in a shop? Or where can we buy them?
SW: We have dealers and reps all over the US and Canada. Best way is to go checkout our website www.brigadewakesurfing.com or give us a call and we’ll hook you up with the nearest Brigade dealer. Also, make sure to go follow us on Instagram @Brigadewakesurfing