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

Guide to Midlengths
Guide to Midlengths

July 04, 2024

Continue Reading

Fin Guide: How they work and which is the best for you
Fin Guide: How they work and which is the best for you

June 07, 2024

The fin is the most foundational element of your surfboard. Unless you are riding a finless board, the entire surfboard is shaped to work with the fin; design elements like concave and rocker mean little without a fin, and one couldn't imagine a fish without a twin or quad, or a high performance shortboard with a single fin.

Continue Reading

How to Barrel Ride
How to Barrel Ride

May 13, 2024

The tube ride is the pinnacle of surfing. It is, and forever will be, the best sensation a surfer can experience. This being said, tube rides are also very difficult to find, and they require a great level of wave knowledge and technique. This blog will focus on frontside barrel riding, and will touch on how to find a tube, and how to get tubed once you find one. 

Continue Reading