Interview with Vince Neel

by Julius Bauer

Hi Vinny, I’m afraid we need a short introduction for our readers. Where are you from and how old are you?
Im 21 from San Diego California.
Was surfing part of your upbringing? I guess it was all about high-performance shortboards in the beginning or am I mistaken? When did you shift to more alternative shapes and why? 
When I started surfing at 11 years old I was quickly drawn to the high performance style of surfing from some of the movies I had collected watching some of the movies I had collected, such as young guns, secret machine, circle one. I rode pretty much strictly standard thrusters for 3 or 4 years, with the odd longboard day here and there when it was flat. Then I got pretty into skateboarding in high school for a couple years and barely surfed. When I finally got back into surfing, I think it was senior year, i was riding this hi performance 8’6 longboard that my dad had sitting in the garage for years. I had a lot of fun on that board and it really got me hooked on surfing again. While I’m not a high performance longboard guy, I was able to catch tons of waves and learn how to cross step and the basics of longboarding. In the second half of senior year, I asked my friend Patrick, who had been shaping some boards, if he could shape me a longboard, something more classic. I rode that board everyday for probably a year or so, it was so much fun. I didn’t even care about shortboarding anymore because of how much fun I was having on the longboard. After that I got a board from Hank Byzak, which I rode for probably almost a year. Eventually after riding this board I realized that I’ll always want to ride different shapes and unless I had tons of money and wanted to wait several months for a board to be made, I had to start making them on my own. So I reached out to some friends who were shaping boards and they let me shape (and glass) a board at their little backyard shed. It was a 8’0 double ender style midlength, and to be honest it came out pretty bad. But it was a good learning experience and I definitely wanted to keep building more boards. And so it began.
Which wave-influenced you the most?
Id say the reefs from cardiff and swamis, just riding longboards and having lots of fun. But I’m always being influenced by the waves wherever I’m surfing. Tell us more about your shaping bay at home? Rumors are you built a nice little workshop, in your parents' backyard, when you were eighteen years old. After I shaped that first board at my friends place I quickly realized that it was pretty hard to use someone else’s shaping room. I felt pretty annoying going around asking people if I could use there rooms, and I didn’t like having to work on someone else’s time, and I liked the idea of being able to shape alone. So I decided to build a shed in my parents backyard. With the help of my dad and my friend Sean, we built a 16 ft by 14ft shed (it’s more like a tiny house), with a wall in the middle dividing it into a 16x8 shaping room and a 16x6 glassing area next to it. I painted the shaping room dark brown and got fluorescent lights, it’s really dark and contrasty and it’s definitely my favorite shaping room.
Georg Greenough, Tom Curren, Miki Dora, Ryan Burch, Joel Tudor, Tyler Warren, and Trevor Gordon, etc. Spots like Rincon, Mavericks, San O, and Cardiff Reef. California shaped surfing like no other area. How does it affect your shaping and surfing?
Growing up in Southern California and being surrounded by all kinds of surfing has kept me open minded about surfboards and what can be ridden. In California people are riding and shaping all kinds of boards.
What are your inspirations outside of that bubble? Do you translate them back into the bubble? 
I’m inspired by lots of people. If someone is building their own boards and surfing them well, I’m interested. There’s a lot of guys in Australia that make boards that are pretty inspiring to me.
What did you shape for MQ and what waves did you have in mind?
I shaped 5 twin fins, 5’4-5’8, 4 eggs around 7ft, and 2 8’6 mini gliders. The waves I had in mind are the points and reefs that I got to visit in Portugal during my trip. Ride the small boards when the waves are bigger, and the big boards when the waves are smaller (or bigger if you want to have a lot of fun).
How do you like the traveling and shaping gig that you are on right now? Any challenges? What is your next destination?
It’s really cool. I built some boards in Costa Rica and brought them to morocco before coming to Portugal. Now I’m here shaping a bunch of boards. Next I’m planning on going to Costa Rica with my buddy and my girlfriend and we are going to have a little shop where we can build boards and Bree can paint at.
The most important tool in the shaping bay?  (Which tool are you going to take on the road the next time)
Planer. I got to use a skil for the first time in Portugal and I really enjoyed it.
There are no technical boundaries. What would you change in a shaping bay?
High ceilings are nice to have. I like a dark room and having good lighting is important. I like covering the bulbs on the side lights so they don’t shine into your eyes. It’s all personal though.