In the upcoming issue of
Magazine, featured among a host of well-known and established boards will be a fish from the Wailuku-based Grass Roots Surf Company. At a time in the surf industry when so much emphasis is placed on big brand names and which shaper you are riding, Grass Roots is different. They’re a new company, blending old style with contemporary ingenuity.
Two guys started Grass Roots: Chris Carrozza and Ken Goring. Carrozza is a long time surfer, artist, board repairer and shaper. Goring is the visionary for design concepts and also a skilled board repairer. Their interest in making and fixing boards began with their own passion for surfing.
I asked Carrozza what he enjoyed most about shaping and fixing boards. “Doing something you love,” he said. “To make the thing that gives you the most enjoyment in life.”
In many ways, Grass Roots is a return to the reason why most of us started surfing in the first place: because it’s fun. Surfing is a lifestyle, an addiction to be proud of and a passion that embraces and simultaneously expresses creativity. Surfing is like art, which is where a company like Grass Roots comes in.
The artwork that adorns their boards is, to say the least, unique for surfing. It varies from board to board but usually combines reggae, punk and hip-hop inspiration with funky bright and colorful backgrounds, waves, flowers or whatever you can think up. Their approach is to encourage creativity, so whatever tickles your fancy can be arranged.
“We are not conventional,” said Carrozza. “We encourage our clients to be creative and think outside of the box. We are not concerned with what everyone else is doing. We want to keep them stoked and foster their creativity. Different boards require a different approach to surfing, keeping it interesting.”
Carrozza is originally form Long Island, New York, where he began surfing the frigid Atlantic Ocean. Eleven years ago he needed a change and moved to Hawai’i. He’s been repairing boards for 10 years and shaping for three.
Goring, who also goes by the nickname “Woozer,” has spent his entire life between Maui and Oahu and has been surfing for 25 years. For the past two years, he’s been a judge for HASA—as of this last year, the head judge, in fact. He has a wealth of experience with many different styles of boards and surfing and knows the shapes that work well.
“I started on a twin fin when I was 10 then as everyone was switching over to thrusters,” said Goring. “I tried it but felt like my surfing had been better when I was younger. Years later I returned to the twin fin and finally felt like I had found what I really loved and had been missing all of those years.”
Many local Waiehu rippers are representing Grass Roots Surf Company with enthusiasm, like Keoni Perkins, Kapena, Matt Vincent and Matt Swift. One surfer I spoke to even went so far as to call his Grass Roots board a “magic board.”
Guess their approach is working.