Oh how we love our backyard shapers. With their grit, ingenuity–their unadulterated joy for the craft–this DIY bunch is the lifeblood of any surf community; spitballing oddball designs, maintaining the human connection to the crafts we ride, and keeping us assured that the age of enlightenment (at least as far as surfboards are concerned) has yet to pass us by.

Tal Hazlehurst of Fishbird Surfboards is the kind of underground shaper that needs little in the way of notoriety to keep mowing away. And, as evidenced by this nine-and-a-half foot, convex- and vee-bottomed displacement hull he calls the Ditch Pickle, Hazlehurst is certainly not wanting for imagination. 

“I really like shapes that surprise people,” says Hazlehurst. “I spend a lot of time riding things most people scratch their heads at because it looks different; but it’s not for the sake of being different. Surfing is all about creating sensations and feelings on a wave, so a little ‘out of the box’ design can unlock a whole new world of experiences when dropping in.”

Hazlehurst with his Ditch pickle. || Photo: Cole LoCurto

The Ditch Pickle certainly aims at a new kind of experience. Hazlehurst offers that the board “loves a nice wall, high lines, and cranking bottom turns.”

The Ditch Pickle also makes clear that, after notching just a tick over 100 boards built from start to finish in his four years of shaping, Hazlehurst has a high-ceiling. He cites Californians Gene Cooper and Ryan Lovelace, as well as local ledge dog, Mike Whisnant as influences on his shaping philosophy, noting both Whisnant’s volume of output (“10,000-plus” boards) and commitment to board building from planer to squeegee. 

By the time this article hits the press, Hazlehurst’s Atlantic Beach shaping shack should be completed and ready for walkup orders, as well as the traditional board talk and fish stories that remain one of the definining (and most redeeming) parts of the surfer-shaper relationship. Otherwise, hit him up via email or instagram, the latter of which is where you’re bound to find more neat surfboards like the one pictured. 

This neat surfboard originally appeared in Void Magazine’s March 2020 issue. 

More Neat Surfboards: 
Motes Model by Savage
The Apprentice by Ghetto
Eco-Friendly Twin by Shapes by JG
4 +1 Midlength by Whisnant 
Mini Pig Fastback by COS
Dominion Twin available at Mangrove Surf Shop