Team Riders: Peter Mel, Shane DorianYou saw the JC label under Shane Dorian's feet in the movie In God's Hands and those were John Carper's shapes under the Eden label in Blue Crush. Peter Mel pioneered tow surfing at Mavericks on a "magic" 7' 2" tow board shaped by John Carper. Mike Parsons caught a $65,000 wave at Cortes Bank riding a JC "sling shot"-and then he lost it out to sea.
You saw the JC label under Shane Dorian's feet in the movie In God's Hands and those were John Carper's shapes under the Eden label in Blue Crush. Peter Mel pioneered tow surfing at Mavericks on a "magic" 7' 2" tow board shaped by John Carper. Mike Parsons caught a $65,000 wave at Cortes Bank riding a JC "sling shot"-and then he lost it out to sea. The JC label is one of the most respected in the surfing world from T Street to Pipeline to Jaws, and now you can see the JC label on a range of modern, high performance shortboards produced by Surftech.
John Carper was inspired at the foot of legends. During the 50s, John lived down the street from Greg Noll and spent some younger years kicking around Noll's sawhorses, watching "the big guys" make balsa boards. His first board was a Velzy/Jacobs, a present from his dad in 1956. JC surfed the South Bay and around southern California until the middle 60s, when he moved to Hawaii. "I was a student at a Community College on Maui when Nat Young and Bob McTavish came through with the first shortboards," he said. "At that time Maui was kind of the center of the universe and a lot of the first shortboard experimentation happened over there. At the time all you could buy in the surf shops were longboards, so for the first couple of years to get what you wanted you had to strip those boards down and do it yourself. The first board I shaped was a seven-foot shortboard stripped down from an old three-stringer Donald Takayama." John moved to Oahu in 1969 and while attending U of H he took a job doing ding repair for Surfboards Hawaii: "Ben Aipa was there and then he left to go to Surfline and they offered me a job as a shaper. I quit school and started making boards for a living in 1972. I worked for Surfboards Hawaii and then moved on to Lightning Bolt when they were just starting. I stayed with them until 1975."
JC broke his neck in 1980 and was semi-paralyzed for a year and a half. As he recovered he found that his hammering muscles no longer worked but his shaping muscles still did and so he embarked on a career as a full-time surfboard shaper. He started Island Fusion Surfboards (named in honor of his spinal fusion operation) on the Big Island but learned pretty quick that a surfboard business in that remote surfing area wasn't going to support a wife and growing family. During the 80s JC took a job with Rusty and moved the whole family to La Jolla, "I learned a lot from Rusty," he said. "I worked with pros and learned how to make a surfboard properly. I learned how to analyze a surfboard and look at it as not a sculpture but a tool for somebody."
The Carper family got homesick and went back to the islands. This time they moved to the North Shore and John hit the ground running. "From just about the minute I got off the plane I was working and I have been working ever since." John worked for HIC and Island Classics and then in 1995 he started his own label, JC. "I wanted to have a complete surfboard company," he said. Since starting JC Hawaii John Carper has shaped for virtually every pro alive and more than a few of his boards have made movie and big-wave history under the feet of Shane Dorian, Peter Mel, Mike Parsons and Anne Marie Chadwick.
For Surftech, JC is making a line of six boards that draw on his 40 years of shaping experience. "The Swallow Stingray is a modern Fish design," he said. "and it's meant to haul okole in small surf." The NX1 is a thoroughly modern shortboard that pros swear by in several languages. JC has two Peter Mel designs. The Peter Mel Machine is a 6' 4" for bigger guys (like Peter) who want performance. "Peter is kind of amazing because he is 6' 4" and weighs 200 pounds and still rips in small waves," he said. "There is a 6' 4" and 6' 8" made for him and guys like him. Bigger guys who can still rip or for the rest of us who just want to catch a wave easy." The 6' 10" and 7' 5" are for mature surfers who aren't super freaks like Peter Mel but aren't yet ready to get into longboards. "We put a lot of volume and a full nose on the Hawaiian performance rocker and guys can still rip on this board," he said.
JC is no stranger to technology. In Hawaii he has innovated the use of the 3DMotion CNC Surfboard cutting machine, using state of the art Computer Aided Design to rough-shape boards before JC can put the finishing touches on them. John is a believer in that line by Arthur C. Clarke: "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic." And he sees a little bit of magic in the Surftech system . "I think Surftech is a viable system that has found a real place in surfing. It has taken quite a few years to get this kind of tech where you can make a consistent product. I looked into Surftech for a while before I committed, but now I am happy with the whole system. They are putting out a good surfboard that surfers of all levels like to ride."