SURF LEGEND: Scott Anderson was low profile, world renowned board shaper

Anderson’s Aquatech factory in Hermosa Beach shaped and glassed boards for world’s top surfers

by Eddie Solt

Much like the diverse city Scott Anderson resided in, the surfboards he built encompassed an entire spectrum of shapes and designs. He made boards for everybody. 

The iconic, LA-born shaper, who opened shop in Hermosa Beach five years ago, died last month after an extended battle with cancer. He was 57.

Revered surfboards labels are almost as territorial as the surfers who ride them. Yet Anderson’s offerings went way beyond the region. He became a worldwide face representing the LA surf industry.

“I would see boxes and boxes of boards being shipped all over the world,” said Dennis Jarvis of Spyder Surfboards, a longtime friend and colleague.

Anderson was a teenager in his mother’s garage when he plugged in a planer for the first time. He eventually fell under the tutelage of the Venice Beach surf scene, working with Lance Carson, Jeff Ho and Skip Engblom of Dogtown and Santa Monica Airlines, Robbie Dick, and the Natural Progressions surfboards. 

Jarvis recalled that such apprenticeships were a necessary but often puzzling experience.  

“We’d laugh about how things used to be,” Jarvis said. “You gave countless hours in a shaping bay, sweeping for a guy who may not teach you a thing. You would learn from osmosis.” 

Scott Anderson with a Greenough Spoon Kneeboard he built for experimental board designer George Greenough. Photo courtesy of the Anderson family

In 1988, Anderson opened Aquatech on Glencoe Boulevard, in Marina Del Rey, just around the corner from the former location of surfboard manufacturer Dale Velzy’s shop and showroom, which in the ‘60s also hosted the Dewey Weber Surfboards operation. 

Anderson’s factory pumped out his own label as well as many other local labels.

“He was not only a great glasser but also shaped for other top labels,” Jarvis said.

Anderson had no fear of being pigeonholed in any genre, whether shortboard, longboard, retro or whatever. His openness with a planer put his designs under some of the more progressive pro surfers over the last few decades, beginning with the burgeoning traditional longboard scene in Malibu. In the late ‘90s, the infamous Marshall Brothers, Chad and Trace, as well as Belinda Baggs, Dane Peterson, Carla Rowland and underground legend Josh Farberow were scooting down first point glassy walls on Anderson’s shapes.

“Scott Anderson and Josh Farberow go hand in hand. I don’t think you can mention one without the other,” said Adam Davenport, the traditional surfboard craftsman of Davenport Surfboards. Anderson glassed Davenport’s first board. “Josh is an incredible talent and his Anderson Farberow Pintail will go down as one of the quintessential model boards at Malibu. I feel that the surfer-shaper relationships between Scott and Josh set the standard for R & D and produced one of the greatest signature models in surfing history.”

Davenport said he feels privileged to be one of the lucky ones taken under Anderson’s wing. 

When Aquatech opened its Hermosa Beach location at the celebrated Shoreline Glassing’s  former location — the building that was a part of the Greg Noll Factory in the ‘60s — Davenport was asked to manage the shop.

“I learned a lot from Scott about shaping — the process, the patience,” Davenport said. “Patience is the biggest gift Scott gave me, that and letting things go. Scott was and will always be a parental figure in my life. He was someone whom I always wanted to please and do a good job for because he was a good person. I loved him.” 

“When you think of Scott, you think of good character, solid work ethic, and friend to all of us,” Davenport said. “He kept you humble but made you laugh hard. He loved his family and his job.”

Scott Anderson and fellow shaper Lance Carson with ‘60 style longboard fin. Photo courtesy of the Anderson family

Gentrification eventually overtook the original Aquatech and Anderson moved the entire operation to the Hermosa Beach location. It was an easy transition because Aquatech was the go-to glass shop for ET Surfboards shaping legend Pat Ryan. The local surf community welcomed Anderson.

“All I can say is Scott was a humble humble man, super talented and we became closer friends over the past five plus years since he moved to Hermosa,” Jarvis said. “Always a smile, even when things were tough.”

Before “mid-length,” and “hull” became a thing, Anderson carried on the tradition of the displacement hull, a style of surfboard that was first laying animal tracks in Malibu during the shortboard revolution of the late ‘60s. (Fittingly, the Malibu crew was inspired by the lines Australian Nat Young was drawing while he was stateside testing the new shortboard prototypes offered by Dewey Weber Surfboards). Anderson would go on to carry the torch, planer-wise, of Greg Liddle, the man who kept the hull concept alive from the ‘70s to the aughts. The hull was succeeded by many different shortboard concepts, yet remained revered by a tight knit crew of diehards. 

“He was an under-celebrated top shaper and helped bring the “mid-range” mini log industry we are all chasing to fruition,” Jarvis said.

The mid-length is viewed as an easy-riding fun surfboard taking the best aspects of longboards and shortboards, offering opportunity for people who may not be ready for the unforgivingness of each surf design. 

“So if you’re riding a mid-length, you should tip your hat and give a shout to this very humble, talented craftsman,” Jarvis said. ER

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