Ryan Gambrell: The Degree 33 Custom Surfboard Experience.

October 18, 2017


Picking out the right board is hard enough for average Joe. Surf racks are filling with boards designed to cover a wide range of average height surfers. Local adaptive surfer and team rider, Ryan Gambrell, does not fit into that spectrum. Born with achondroplasia, the most common form of what's referred to as dwarfism, Ryan stands a bit shy of his 5'0 Codfather. What's delightfully ironic about his stature, often thought of by others as a hindrance, is that almost every day Ryan paddles out, it's head high. And when it's head high for us, it's standup double overhead barrels for him. What.. a.. life!...

Ryan's never had a board built for him, so it took some unique feedback to get his dimensions pegged. Here's how it went down...

The first step was to send him out on a few of our board models and see what he likes best. It was an easy decision, he racked his Poacher egg fundboard and rode a 5'8 Codfather modern retro fish in his most recent contest and took his surfing to the next level. Compared to his 6'6 Poacher, the Codfather had more drive and glide in a wider range of conditions. 

Knowing he was stoked on the Codfather, we sent him back out on a 5'6 Codfather with a bit less volume and he as ecstatic! There were a few things he wanted to adjust before Bill started mowing foam. 

Ryans upper arms are shorter than ours, so he has to reach out wide to get a good paddle stroke going, and that takes away from the power of his core, Ryan's not a twiggy guy. He also wanted to go quite a bit shorter, without losing too much foam. So Bill kept it 2 1/2 inches thick and 20 inches wide, while dropping the length to 5'0. He also kept the rails full to add a little more float.

One thing Ryan can't do, is get his arm around a board to where he can reach the bottom rail. He has to pin it to his side and hope his wax job is good enough! Bill helped make that easier by shaping finger grooves along the stringer on either side. Once glassed and waxed, these grooves would help take some of that pressure off of Ryan's hand and shoulder.

To finish it off, Ryan added a little bit of flare to the deck by designing a 2oz printed cloth with his own pattern, which we sent straight to our friends over at Boardlams to apply to the board. 

What came back from our glassers was one of the most custom-tuned boards we've ever done, and Ryan was out-of-his-mind stoked! As I'm finishing this paragraph, Rob, our resident photographer and custom board liaison is hustling out the front door of the showroom, camera already on the tripod, headed up to catch Ryan paddling into some legitimate bombs as a recent swell made landfall in the wee hours of the night.

We can't wait to see what Ryan's capable of on a fully custom surfboard! Stay tuned for the update and footage of his first session on the ultra-custom Gambrell Codfather. 

Rider: Ryan Gambrell 
Surfboard model: "The Codfather" Modern Retro Fish - 5'0 x 20 x 2 1/2



Stoked how his came out and can't wait to build your own custom board? Catch us below and we'll get you all dialed in on your first true magic board (unless you've had us build one already!)

Shop Phone: 858 693 3692
Email: Surf@degree33.com

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

Also in Degree 33 Surf Blog

Surf Etiquette - Do's and Don't for the new and progressing surfer

December 28, 2019

Continue Reading

Looking to make that move from a longboard to something shorter?

December 28, 2019 21 Comments

So you've come to a point in your surfing where you're ready for a little more maneuverability but not ready to make the jump to a shortboard (by the way, that's the vast majority of you that have never surfed anything other than a longboard). But what do you switch to?

Continue Reading

Reading a Surf Report and Knowing the Conditions Equals Great Waves

December 28, 2019 13 Comments

Lets say you recently purchased a surfboard or maybe you’ve been surfing for a little while but you just go, regardless of what the waves look like. A tool that can immediately affect the quality of your experience is knowing what factors play into wave conditions.

Continue Reading