KYLE ALBERS: Cosmic Surfcraft and Wave Sliding Delights

Kyle Albers guiding his handmade surfcraft through a Sri Lankan bowl. Photo: Michael Kew

Kyle Albers guiding his handmade surfcraft through a Sri Lankan bowl. Photo: Michael Kew

“Artists should always think of themselves as cosmic instruments for storytelling.”
-Ted Lange

Surfers and shapers are artists alike, vividly revealing their distinct visions on the face of waves, or through the medium of foam blanks, fiberglass cloth, and resin.

Kyle Albers is one such “artist” whose love of  surfing and shaping coalesce, displaying his unique approach to both riding waves and surfboard creation. Located in central California, Albers merges both the cosmic dance across cresting walls of salt water and the crafting of foam blanks into wave-riding instruments, expressing his lifelong passion for entering into the deepest reaches of wave sliding delight.

I spoke to Kyle recently to find out more about his approach to both surfing and shaping. Read on…

When did you start surfing, what are some of your earliest memories of riding waves, and when did you realize surfing was something you wanted to pursue with dedication?

From a really young age my dad would try and take me out surfing, but as much as I wanted to be a surfer like him, I was just too scared of the waves. I loved going to the beach and playing in the sand and boogie boarding a bit, but it wasn’t until I was about 12 years old and my friends were surfing that I got into it.

Growing up in California, surfing is embedded into the lifestyle, and it plays out in a variety of ways. You have kids that are home schooled, turning into contest machines before they hit puberty, and it can just be this whole big “jock” thing for lack of a better term. Were you ever involved with that aspect of surfing or were you always drawn to a divergent path?

I grew up longboarding, mostly at San Onofre, and I did the longboard club coalition contests for a few years with my dad. It was cool for me as a kid to go to the different spots and meet people and see what kinds of boards they were riding, but as far as the actual competition went, I wasn’t too into it. It just stressed me out. Maybe I didn’t like it because I didn’t do very well, ha!

It’s nice to see a good crop of surfer/shapers that offer a variety of equipment that lends itself to having more fun and drawing different lines than the typical shortboard. What initially drew you to the craft of shaping surfboards, what inspires or influences your shaping, and why did you choose to walk down the path of creating unique surfcraft that strays from the status quo?

My dad exposed me to a lot of surf movies from the 70s and I was more interested in that aesthetic. Plus being so tall and lanky, thrusters didn’t really work for me, especially growing up in the 90s when shortboards were so narrow and rockery. I liked riding longboards and fishes but there weren’t as many options at surf shops as there are today. I would custom order these weird boards from different shapers and they usually wouldn’t come out the way I imagined them, so eventually I decided to make my own board.  I had a friend who shaped boards that helped me build some racks in my garage, and I made this 9’9″ D fin pig.  It was really crude and had reverse rocker, but it worked really well for me and I rode it pretty much all the time for a year. So that was encouraging for me to continue shaping and try to make all the boards that I had in my head.

When you are coming up with design elements and creating templates, what’s going through your mind? Where are you looking to end up with a finished board and how does that play into the whole creative process?

I usually have a pretty good idea in my mind of how I want a board to look and feel, the challenge has been to sharpen my shaping skills over the years so I can translate that into a physical form.  I draw the template on the blank and look at it and if I’m excited to shape it I go for it.  I just try to make something that I would want to surf, I don’t use any mathematical principles or anything.

With “Deepest Reaches” there seems to be an almost tongue-in-cheek emphasis on not taking yourselves too seriously, just having fun riding waves, and riding unconventional shapes. What is the overall philosophy behind the board and brand?

Oh, I’m dead serious, I’ve never been more serious about anything else in my life, and whether anyone else takes me serious is another question, ha! It’s definitely for fun, though. I wouldn’t do it if it wasn’t fun, but it’s also kind of an obsession. You know how they say that men think about sex every seven seconds or whatever? Well that’s how I am with boards!

What are some of your favorite boards you are making right now and where do you see your shaping going in the near future?

I pretty much have two boards in my quiver right now, a 9’11 MEGAfish and 7’2 KOZMK KRUZR.  The MEGA is great for tiny lined up surf or mushy open faced waves, I ride it at SanO pretty much every day in the summer. It has way more glide than a normal longboard, and it  really draws turns out into the flats. I ride the KRUZR for pretty much everything else: lined up waves over waist high, beach break, tubes, etc. I took the things I liked about displacement hulls and 70s down-railers and tried to combine them into a single fin mid-length that would hang in to pocket trimming, but also be able to turn anywhere on the waves face. After riding a lot of really short twin fins the last few years, it’s nice to get in a little early and have the positive drive off that center fin. I’m working now on a short, wide thruster model called the MIND MOLECULE, based off the KRUZR template, that combines the fish and an 80s board. Loose but drivey, fits in the pocket, goes well backside. I’m also excited to make more single fin longboards.

Recently you made a trip to India, surfing in the area of Sri Lanka. India can be a place where people have some heavy realizations and experiences, anything that really stands out from the trip that blew your mind?

Sri Lanka is a beautiful country, and I loved everything about it: the waves, the people, the curry, tea, elephants. I didn’t have any mind blowing realizations, it was a really smooth and easy trip thanks to Kew for putting it all together, pretty much just max chill.

Can you tell us something about the upcoming surf film “Expencive Porno Movie” and what role are you playing in the creation of the film?

“Expencive Porno Movie” is a film that my dog, Tin Ojeda, is making.  It’s going to be pretty dope. He’s got a really unique vision that he’s very committed to, and he pays a lot of attention to detail.  He filmed some really fun days this year, all on 16mm, and we’re going to get to see some REACHES in action under the feet of Trevor Gorgon and Travers Adler.

What do you consider to be the greatest reward that a life based around the pursuit of riding waves and creating surfboards has bestowed upon you?

Besides all the money and girls, the greatest reward has been getting to tap into the vibrational energy of the ocean. It allows me to access the Deepest Reaches, so I can find those shapes and bring them to you to do your cosmic dance on.

Any final words, thoughts, 0r shout outs?


Albers throwing a fan of spray while remaining laid back. Photo: Michael Kew

Albers throwing a fan of spray while remaining laid back. Photo: Michael Kew

Kyler Albers drawing a high line on a glassy water wall. Photo: Drew Martin

Drawing a high line on a glassy water wall. Photo: Drew Martin

Kyle Albers performing his unique cosmic dance. Photo: Alex Swenson

Kyle Albers performing his unique cosmic dance. Photo: Alex Swenson

Taking the High Line. Photo: Nick Cook

Taking the High Line. Photo: Nick Cook

Kyle Albers guiding his handmade surfcraft through a Sri Lankan bowl. Photo: Michael Kew

Kyle Albers guiding his handmade surfcraft through a Sri Lankan bowl. Photo: Michael Kew

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Growing up in New Jersey, Shawn discovered and quickly immersed himself in the sub-culture of surfing and skateboarding in the mid 80’s. With a diverse and eclectic background, Shawn has walked the path of a competitive surfer, Hare Krsna monk, action sports industry player in NYC, DIY theology and religions major, and a touring punk rock musician. Now a father and self-proclaimed seeker of the “soul” of surfing, Shawn enjoys sessions with friends at uncrowded peaks along his home state’s shoreline and writing about his surf related experiences.

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