Surfboard shaper Kelly Connolly has mastered a craft that most of surf history has sanctioned for men. After being taken under the wing of Richard Wisz and Greg Mungall, the California native started her own brand of 100% handcrafted boards known as Everyday Surfboards. After living up and down the coast of California, Connolly now resides with her husband and son in the San Gabriel Mountains, shaping boards, growing organic foods, and taking care of their chickens, rabbits, and dog Mona when they aren’t traveling the world.
The Surf Channel: When and where did you begin surfing?
Kelly Connolly: I began surfing when I was ten years old and grew up in California; SanDiego, San Francisco and Los Angeles. I am currently living in LA and enjoy surfing a variety of spots, depending on swell direction and conditions. Being centrally located in Southern California enables me to travel from San Diego to Santa Barbara and surf many spots in between.
How did you start shaping boards?
KC: I was inspired to start shaping and glassing from my passion for surfing and a love for handmade crafts. I refurbished furniture for years, which made me proficient in working with tools. After my first forays into the shaping bay, it became clear to me that building surfboards was something I wanted to pursue.
How did you learn to shape?
KC: Shaper Richard Wisz took me under his wing and shared with me his methods of hand shaping. Greg Mungall has also been a great friend, sharing his vast knowledge of board building.
What is it like being one of the few female shapers in the industry?
KC: It is exciting being one of only a few female shapers. I have had so much great support along the way and I look forward to pursuing my path of board building.
Why don’t more women shape surfboards?
KC: I definitely think more women will start shaping, glassing, sanding etc. I believe there are only a few females making surfboards because it is such a male dominated trade and may be difficult for a female to get her foot in the door. Like other areas that were slow to rise for females in the surf industry, women’s board building will soon be more common.
Favorite board you’ve shaped?
I shaped a narrow 8’0 pintail with roll and vee on the bottom and a flat deck. I ride it with a large flex fin at a variety breaks and it has been tons of fun. From paddling, cross stepping and barrels, I can always count on this board to have a good session in the water.
What inspires you?
When designing a new board, I start with what I feel has already been proven to be a functional design in the past and combine those features with my concepts and ideas. I find inspiration for new curves, lines and materials all around me in my everyday surroundings.
KC: I really enjoy shaping functional boards that will work for the surfer’s performance level and the types of waves they will be riding the board in.
I make surfboards as a full time job, but foresee it to be a longtime hobby as well.
Check out: Everyday surfboards!