Who are some of your influences?
"Keasy, Russell, O'day, Stussy, I was blessed to get started at a place where all we did was custom boards. It was all about building boards for people at different levels of surfing, surfing different places, different size waves, and different abilities of surfing. That's the way I learned how to do it. That's still how I do now, custom, at least 95%."
What's your favorite music?
"I'm stuck in the sixty's, The Stones, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, but I love classical, you know, ...original long hair music, good background music, good for at least a couple hours of solid working."
Who are some of your favorite surfers?
"Carlos Androtti, Barry Kanaiapuni, Tiger Espere, Lenny Foster, Junior Beck, Paul Heussenstamm, Dan Flecky, Brian Duncan, Brad Gerlach, Herbie Fletcher, Wolfman, Darryl Diamond, Bob Stay, Corky, It's tuff to pull out individual performances or people that I really liked 'cause I was lucky enough to see and/or surf with a lot of them. There were so many."
Who are some of your favorite shapers?
"Bob McTavish: he showed up on the north shore when I was living over there, after stowing away on a freighter from Oz. He jumped off in the harbor, swam to shore, hitched a ride to the north shore (so the story goes), hand sketched an outline on a blank, and shaped it. I don't know with what, a tooth pick and a tooth brush, and he was out surfing it the next day. The best surfer I ever saw, first full round house. I gotta say I was more in the Brewer school than the Diffenderfer. We used to go over to the Surfline Hawaii shop and measure out the new pocket rockets that Brewer was shaping, and that's what we tried to emulate. Not much V at first, I didn't get turned on to V until about board number ten or fifteen."
Name some great craftsmen you've worked with?
"Mike O'day, who's retired but was the head shaper at Russel's when I started there. He took me under his wing and showed me the ropes. Not so much how to shape, although he did a lot of critiquing of my boards after I shaped them. I gotta say Stussy again. Shaun was one of the best shapers, when he was shaping, that I ever saw. His boards were great, they worked, they were an inspiration. And Bruce Jones, same thing, great craftsmen, still going. Mel Ross, he was a laminator at the Hobie shop in the sixties, and he's still going. The BrotherHood guys: Randy Ledow, Paul Sides, and Russell (Bob Brown) himself. He still does all the wet work on his own boards, and he's happy."
Comment on long boarding vs. short boarding?
"Everytime I get on a longboard, I love it. I have a great time. It's not something I'm pursuing personally. Because I have Dave Kalama riding my boards, and he gets eveything. We've been making replicas of twin fins I made in the late seventies, those old Shaun Thompson single fins from the Free Ride days. As a shaper, I love the versatility I'm allowed to have working with a guy like Dave because he's always ready to try something new, and it keeps me fresh. As far as the difference long boarding and short boarding goes, it's all surfing. I enjoy building the boards and I'm just blessed that people like them. I have some great young surfers riding my boards, and they are making me focus on all the aspects of shaping. It makes it more interesting to do more than just long boards or short boards or Jaws boards. Being versatile and doing a lot of different stuff keeps you fresh, and it just is a lot more fun."
What about the future of tow-boards?
"Dave's my main guy. He always comes up with a lot of good ideas. He's the one that's feeling what's going on out there. I don't tow. Right now, every board has basically been a science project. From asymmetric rails, wider tails, narrower noses, narrower tails, wider noses, different kinds of concave, fin placement. We are really doing almost a different board every time now. We're close enough with the rocker and the bottom turn rail and stuff like that. We're playing with the outline and volume. The boards are getting thinner and thinner but there're still heavy for Jaws, coming in at around 19 to 20 lbs. It's been a nonstop evolution. We're hitting the nail close enough to the head that we're not messing up. The boards seem to work. Watching them live and on film, I get a feel for what needs to be changed, and how the board goes through the water. I can see from one board to the next which one is going faster, which one's releasing easier. Dave seems stoked. He hasn't died out there yet, and we keep working together."
What about foil boards?
"Does the work with foil boards have any influence on tow-boards? None whatsoever! The foil boards that we've made don't ride on the water, it's just a platform for the boots and a launching and landing place. The actual foil is the only thing in the water."
Where are you at now?
"I don't need to go to the machine yet. I've always had this stupid line that: I never want to make a million of them. Just enough good ones to make a decent living at it, and get paid a Journeyman's wage. More money means all the responsibility to keeping people working, and then they start to rely on it, and when you want to take some time off, they get all pissed off at you."
Are there any shapers to watch for the future?
"Honestly I don't look that much. All I can tell all those guys is keep an eye on my ass as I pull away from them."
You're not looking back?
"No, as far as looking ahead, I'm not done. I'm still going and I'm under the impression that I'm only as good as my last board. If you don't stay on top of it, you're left in the dust. All I can see is an endless amount of orders, and I'm stoked!"
"Jeff's one of the first shapers to have some foresight into the tow-in thing. He put a lot of his own energy and time into making these boards that seemingly went against all prior conventions. The boards were super thin, narrow, short, and heavy, and made to ride waves that previously hadn't been ridden. We went through many boards to get it right. Everybody was trying their own thing, something that would work for them, so Jeff was processing a lot of different information from many different riders. He kept an open mind, and I think it paid off for him. He was able to combine all this new information with his bank of info from a lifetime of shaping into a series of boards that helped define a new era in surfing." -
"I've never worked with a shaper who could draw on such vast experience. Whether it's my newest Duke replica or formulating my latest Peahi board he always makes a winner. Jeff is The most versatile shaper." -
"You have to have the utmost confidence in your board when you're surfing waves that big. The board can't even be a doubt in your mind. Whatever the design is, as long as you are completely confident in the equipment, then you're going to surf better because of it. You've got to be somewhat aggressive just to keep everything together because the wave is trying to tear you apart." -