Talking Shaping With Gary McNeill

Talking Shaping With Gary McNeill


Talking Shaping With Gary McNeill

Gary McNeill has been shaping surfboards for over thirty-five years and is as much an accomplished shaper as he is a surfer. In fact his home overlooks the iconic barreling point, Kirra, helping him to hone both skills as good as the other. His boards can be described as, “….high performance hybrids, with the best of wide point forward fish designs blended with the best of modern rails and foils.” He is a shaper that has a knack for performance and can just as easily think outside the box of mainstream shortboard design. A refreshing quality in any art form. His boards also include some of the most eye catching sacred geometry artwork  around, done in collaboration with artist Jonathan Quinton. On top of all that Dave Rastovich has been riding Gary’s boards for along time now and has never looked back.  We recently had the privilege of catching up with Gary about all this and his career as a shaper.

Who are some of the shapers that helped influence you as a board maker ?

My influence goes way back to Phil Byrne when Tom Carrol was the world champ, Phil let me play with Toms swap backs which twigged in me the difference in light boards and flex, at the time I was tinkering and shaping my own boards as well, it was more of a hobbie then, then I moved to Qld (Queensland) and got a job as Nevs production manager. I used to watch Nev handplaning big guns for Northern California that’s were I picked up a very good handplaning method and I was team manager for guys like Rasta and Munga Barry. I then got offered a job as a ghost shaper for DHD (Darren Handley) I did 5 years under Darren and really learned how to finish boards professionally . I was in a very good stable place. I had JS on one side of me and Adam “Sparrow” Fletcher , Super Brand head shaper on the other . .so it was all going on in that melting pot , after JS went it alone, I was asked to come be his production manager, which i was happy to step back from production shaping for a while and spent 3 years on the tractor juggernaught, so for me those 3 have been a great learning curve in the business sense of the industry, for the creative I look in another direction all together. I really like George Greenough as the guy that started it all in the short board revoulution and Mitchell Rae is doing some nice work and Ryan Burch for the new generation these guys are all left field and not scared to find a different approach from the mainstream cloned boards that we have all seen for years . I know I was part of that scene for too long

Performance of your boards is really important to you. What are some of the design concepts you think are most important in a high performance board?

Performance is very important to me. I used to compete a lot, so cutting edge boards are everything when you surf a lot. Make it fast make it loose !! gee never heard that before lol …when I was manager at JS one job I really enjoyed and took seriously was I had to tune the edges of all the A team guys boards and I am talking the Irons brothers, Dean Morisson, Luke Egan and the list went on, they all had different tastes and likes to edge and it was a real learning curve for me as to how that subtle change can make a board go from average to all time with a few swipes of wet and dry when you know what your doing.

How has shaping boards for Dave Rastovich influenced your shaping?

SHAPING FOR DAVE RASTOFISH…. Well were do I start, the biggest and most rewarding challenge for me as a shaper, Dave is a surfing freak, hands down, I seen him do stuff in the surf that baffles me, he is from another surfing realm were surfing is about the journey and having fun is the main priority .and I’ve been blessed to be included in his circle of friends and love the challenge of tweaking his curiosity with board design from as far left field as I can take it but keeping a performance edge, it’s a fine line sometimes but one im willing to explore.

Tell us about the sacred geometry artwork on all your boards?

The sacred geometry on my boards comes from the same guy that designed my logo Mr. Jonathon Quinton, he is a sacred geometry guru and I’ve been blessed to have his art on my boards . It’s an extention of way back when I first started putting the flower of life pattern on Dave’s boards, the art resonates at a higher frequency, but that’s a whole other story.

Find more about Gary McNeill Surfboards on his website at