Tucked into the tight knit surf community of Ocean City, New Jersey, stands 28-year-old Danny Callaghan. A native of OC and URI graduate, Danny Callaghan is the owner and shaper of DCal Surfboards. From local NJ sand bars and New England points, to G-Land and Keramas, you can find Danny testing and perfecting his latest shapes around the world.
The Surf Channel caught up with Callaghan to learn more about his life as a shaper and his unique board design.
When did you start surfing?
DCal: I was stand-up boogie boarding for as long as I can remember, until my dad and I re-glassed a yard sale surfboard when I was either 8 or 9 years old.
What sparked your interest in shaping and starting DCal Surfboards?
DCal: I’ve always liked building things instead of buying things. I guess partly interest in knowing how things work & are created, as well as wanting to own something completely unique. That’s sort of what influences everything I do. I’ve been making surfboards for myself since about 2009. I started making them for friends and others in 2011.
DCal: I was really into making boards for the places I was traveling to, such as Indo, Hawaii, Australia and New Zealand. Some I had been to before, so it was great to shape with that knowledge and then go back to test those boards out. Over the past year or two, I’ve been putting a lot of time into making boards for the type of heavy, slabby barrels we get her in NJ during the winter months. You definitely can’t find those shapes stocked in the shops. I like shaping things I’m not seeing. It keeps things fresh.
Tell us about the artwork on your boards.
DCal: My girlfriend, Ashely, likes painting and has a pretty unique approach and style. I used to travel a lot and on breaks home from long surf trips, I would be busy in the shed shaping boards for the next trip. Ash would come hang and paint my boards as I finished them. It evolved inadvertently as a way for us to spend more time together. Now it works out great. She’s my little worker bee.
Who can we see riding your boards out in the water?
DCal: I’ve been focusing on making boards for friends and surfers looking to try new shapes and experiment a bit. Some of those guys include: Chris & Roby Kelly, Luke Ditella, Andrew Gesler, Todd Dicurcio, and a handful of others I’m sure I’ve missed.
Looking forward, do you see yourself and your business expanding or remaining home grown?
DCal: Home grown. Although, I’d like to expand on some of the surfers I shape for. I draw a lot of influence and inspiration from them.
It seems like a lot of surfers are moving towards working with a local shaper rather then buying a big name brand board, what are your thoughts on the way the industry is moving?
DCal: There are some phenomenal big brand board makers. But you can get a great board locally if choose the right shaper. Locally, you get the personal knowledge of a customer’s experience and wave type that you don’t get with the big companies. It’s pretty evident now that people want locally made boards. It’s truly custom.
You can check out Danny’s shapes at DCalShapes.com or in person at 7th street surf shop in Ocean City, NJ.