interviewed by Chris Cote in Hossegor, France
When top pros travel the world, they try to pack as light as possible with as few boards as necessary. Usually they order boards from the hot shaper in the country they’re going to. In France’s case, no top pro will order a board from anyone but Mark “Phippsy” Phipps. The list is endless—Mick Campbell, Matt Hoy, Danny Wills, Slater, Munga, Pat O’Connell, Nathan Webster, Shane Powell, Jake and Paul Patterson, Maz Quinn, and Elko. Not all these guys are on his team, but when they’re in France, they ride Mark’s boards. Phippsy started going to France a few years ago where he hooked up with Maurice Cole, Powelly, and a few other guys. Ever since his first trip to France (he goes there every year for the Euro leg of the ASP), he’s been making sure the best surfers in the world can ride his boards in the contests around Europe. I don’t know exactly how it works, but everywhere you look you see a Phippsy board. Mick Campbell at the Gotcha Pro in Tahiti and Davo in the TransWorld SURF Textbook section are some examples. If you don’t think he’s a legend, ask yourself this: How many shapers do you know who work directly with Mickey Dora and Jeff Hackman designing tow – in boards for monster outer reefs?
Being a competitive and sponsored surfer himself, Phipps just shapes boards that work great for surfing. He gets a buzz from seeing guys on his boards win contests and get photos, but his favorite thing is having someone come into his shop loving his board. “If somebody comes in and says they’re having fun on it, that’s the best thing. When people come in and say that you’re making their surf time fun, especially for people who work, that’s great,” Phipps says.
“If you want to make a lot of money shaping, don’t get into it. But if you want to make a living and have a good lifestyle, go for it.”