The story of Al Merrick’s surfboards

The most popular surfboard in the world

Channel Islands Surfboards is Al Merrick’s surfboard design and shaping company. It all started in 1969 and through a lot of quality hard work, innovation, and originality, he has been designing and shaping surfboards for the world’s biggest surfing stars over the last 43 years.

He started as a small local operation in Santa Barbara, California, and now has a state-of-the-art facility where nearly all of his boards are computer-shaped, allowing him to meet the huge worldwide demand, which can be as high as 2000 units per month!

“The driving force behind Channel Islands Surfboards is the demand on design created by the world’s greatest surfers, allowing for the highest surfing performance possible. To provide the most dedicated surfers with the most advanced performance designs is my passion” – Al Merrick, Designer/Shaper

CI surfboards

Al Merrick Surfboard Designer and Shaper

 Two legends in the making

Al Merrick’s shapes were not very well known in 1977, even with Shaun Tomson winning the world title with his boards.  It really began with Tom Curren – the most admired surfer ever. Merrick started shaping for him when he was only 12 years old.  Tom rose to prominence in the early ’80s and so did Merrick, becoming the most popular shaper in the world ever since.  Once Al’s creations became Kelly Slater‘s board choice, every top surfer in the world wanted one too and many of the professional level big names couldn’t go without.

Surfer and shaper friendship

Kelly Slater and Al Merrick

CI surfboards are among the most versatile. In 2005, with the closing of Clark Foam (the world’s biggest provider of surfboard foam), Merrick switched to epoxy. Today he plays with both carbon strips. But the greatest change came in 2006, when the snowboarding giant Burton bought the label, and started synergizing the two boardsports’ construction methods.

Still, Channel Islands continues to use foam and fiberglass for the bulk of their high-performance boardmaking. And while Al’s son Britt handles most of the production, Merrick still leads the design, despite a 2009 rumor saying otherwise.


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