Talking Stories with Surfboard Shaper Hank Byzak

Hank Byzak Biography, Living History, Stories by Legendary Surfboard Shaper

Hank Byzak has been surfing since 1961 and has been building custom surfboards since the late 1960's. The first Pure Fun Surf Shop started in Leucadia, Ca. in 1971 and Hank has designed over 30,000 surfboards in his carreer! Hall of Fame Master Surfboard Shaper and Owner of Pure Fun Longboards & Surfboards in Leucadia Ca., Hank Byzak is the true "Old School Intellectual and Creative Source" of many of the boards that you might allready know and ride, under other names.

Hank began shaping for Channing Precision Fiber-glassing in Encinitas California. For seventeen years, and at last count, Byzak designed and shaped over twenty-five brands of Surfboards, including: Weber Performers, Hansen Surfboards, Surfboards Hawaii, Chanin, Bear, Greg Nou, Joel Tudor...and the list goes on!

Story By Channel 8's Larry Himmel
For decades, shaping surfboards has truly been San Diego's cottage industry. Many of the best boards ever sold were made right here. One legendary North County shaper truly breaks the mold.

When Brooklyn-born Hank Byzak transplanted to the West Coast and started shaping surfboards, he was like a fish out of water. 

"I've been doing this since 1971," he said. "I started at the end of Leucadia, the outcast from New York. Everybody hated me.

My shop became the Mecca for every guy who wanted to be a California surfer that came from Queens or New York or Rockaway."

But Hank gained the respect of local surfers by learning the business from the ground up.

"First I started out as a fin guy and a pin liner and a sander, then a laminator and a shaper," he said.

He ended up working for some of the biggest names in the business. 

"The first time I ever shaped my first Dewey Weber surfboard, I was so proud of it, because I used to buy Dewey Weber surfboards," he said.

Today in his Pure Fun shop along laidback Leucadia's "Mile of Psychics," Hank remains a bit of an anomaly. And despite all his years in the business, he continues to learn.

"I'm never too old to learn how to shape better," he said.

He applies new technology to an old shaper's philosophy.

"If they don't surf good, they're just art. I'd rather go out with a lumpy, bumpy board that had all the ingredients that rode well rather than a really pretty one that's a dog," he said.

In his small shop on Highway 101, Hank remains happy and humble.

"Can you imagine the thousands of great surfboard shapers there are in the world today? I can name 15 right in the immediate neighborhood that are great, so I'm just one of them. You know, one of the good surfboard shapers," he said.

The outcast from Brooklyn has shaped his way to become the toast of the West Coast.