Q: How long have you been shaping boards, what's your history?
SO: I began shaping boards at 16, at the time I was living in Antigua West Indies. When I was seventeen I moved to Melbourne, Florida, where I
had the privilege to work and learn from shaper Ricky Carroll at Natural Art Surfboards. We shaped and tested all sorts of boards, surfboards,
wakeboards, skurfers, and sailboards. The three years in Florida prepared me for my lifelong dream, coming to Maui to become a pro windsurfer,
"whatever that means" and continue to pursue my shaping career.
In 1991 I introduced myself to the scene as the shaper to many top windsurf pros while simultaneously competing against them. Although I am no
longer involved, I did have the opportunity to establish a cool windsurf company with three of my best friends. I most definitely have had some
great years not only in Maui but also travelling the world as a shaper / pro-windsurfer.
In the midst of my Maui years I had the privilege to be part of the humble beginnings of our new sport of kiteboarding. It wasn't until 2000, however,
that I pushed hard to form my own company, SOS (same old shit), I mean Sean Ordonez Shapes. My challenge and mission with my shaping has been to show
the world that I have more to offer, more than just some windsurf shapes. Currently, I am working hard on my windsurf shapes for Drops and Kiteboards
for SOS and will shortly be launching my surfboard and paddleboard line. I am really stoked!
Q: What part of your job do you enjoy the most?
SO: Being on the beach with my friends, shooting the shit over a few beers, lying about what you just did on the water. You know who am I talking
about, "yeah, that's right!"
Q: Who are your SOS team riders?
SO: Being an underground custom board shaper based here on Maui gives me the chance to shape boards for a lot of top kiters from all over,
all of whom have inspired me to some degree. Most of the riders I have shaped for ride for other production board companies, and this
unfortunately limits my freedom to mention some of their names. Above all I look at anyone who has ridden, rides or will ride one of
my boards as being an SOS team rider. Currently, my official SOS team consists of Bertrand Fleury, Jack Webb, Moehau Goold, Teiva
Joyveux, Shannon Best, Felix Pivex, Raquel Arroyo, myself and my dog Charlie. Forgive me if I have forgotten to mention someone's name.
I have old timer's disease, too many resin fumes, you know!
Q: Your boards seem to have a real image, culture, thing happening...
SO: Yeah, I am really stoked seeing the support SOS is getting from everyone, without sounding corny! I love what I do and want to give support
to all the people and the sports that have given me this lifestyle.
Q: "Bastard, Razor, Popsyco, Surfstix" great names, what do they all do?
SO: I am just trying to simply evolve and diversify with the sport and
the different riding styles that people like. The sport is still in its infancy and it is going through its growing pains.
"Not to get too
trippy on you but it really does make for an outer body experience when I am in the shaping room designing and mowing a board out..."
Q: Are the boards being well accepted overseas?
SO: If overseas sales figures are an indicator then I would say yes, some people are accepting SOS. But you can't please everyone, as
you know, no matter how hard you try. Bottom line is, without being cocky, going by the smiles and mail I get 'the proof is in the pudding'.
Q: What materials are you mainly using and why?
SO: On my custom and production board cores, I am using the same high-density plastic closed cell foam. The tensile strength and flexibility
of this foam offers the best strength to weight ratio compared to other materials. These are the same materials I have experimented and
tested over the years in the windsurf board building industry, which have been proven to last. Also important are the epoxy resins
combined with the right glass and carbon lay ups to control the flex patterns and give durability to the boards. I know this technical
jargon is boring to most, especially when the wind and waves are up, but combining all these technical factors with the functional art
of foiling and shaping boards gives for a very unique feeling that every board has under your feet. If not taken lightly, it can become
a mind and life altering experience, believe me, I am a bi-product of this effect. Words of advice, be careful hanging around those
Q: You are an established and respected kiter yourself, how much of an advantage does this give you in the shaping room?
SO: It does help me relate the touchy feely experience of the rider to all the curves and design that are in a shape. Not to get too
trippy on you but it really does make for an outer body experience when I am in the shaping room designing and mowing a board out
without the need of any substance other than my planer. Anyways the advantage is noticeable enough to make you pay a lot of attention
to detail, without the gimmicks.
Q: Where is the factory based?
SO: At them moment my main SOS custom factory is based on Maui at the old Sailboards Maui Factory building, now called Tominators
Boardworks, but I am relocating to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to establish a real world R&D facility. Also to get the most out of
surfing, eating tacos, drinking tequila and shaping, so basically my SOS facilities are between Maui, Mexico and Italy or wherever
I lay my planer down. When I finally have all my prototype ideas together for SOS and Drops I head over to our Custom Production
facility in Italy, to make them more available to customers worldwide. I also get a chance to have a little pasta with wine to fool
the inspiration, Rough life, right!
"I think it is a misconception that intermediate or beginner riders can't
ride what some of the top guys ride."
Q: What has been the most challenging aspect of the transition from shaping custom kiteboards for a select number of top riders in
Hawaii to shaping for a worldwide audience?
SO: Shaping boards for everyone, no matter what his or her skill level, is the same cool challenge. But to answer your question,
having had the privilege to work with highly skilled riders allows me to make an average, based on board designs, to offer the worldwide
audience the best performing board they have tried. So Basically, I am not making the transition by scaling down the performance of the
boards to suit lower skill level riders. All riders have the potential of getting better on a good board. Therefore I know that with
my boards the riders have a better chance of upping the scale of their riding, especially in this sport where it has such a fast learning
curve to danger!!!
I think it is a misconception that intermediate or beginner riders can't ride what some of the top guys ride. You
probably won't believe me if I told you how easy some of the top guys' boards are to ride. I believe that is the cool thing about a
new sport, it gives you an open mind to the possibilities of where you can take it. So in other words, down with the downscaling of
performance on boards to make them suitable for intermediate or beginner riders. Everyone will eventually outgrow their board on
all levels, so why go backwards with designs.
Q: What developments are we going to see with kite boards in the future?
SO: In the right conditions the boards are getting so small that they might as well not be there. Who knows I might be out of a
job since we might not be using boards in the future, only flying with the kite. But really the future depends more on where
everyone wants to take it. All I know is that I want to be there. Being a surfer at heart I sure hope that the future of board
design moves toward the relationship with the waves.
Q: One of the ultimate proving grounds for car manufacturers wanting to test the limits is Formula One racing, what in your mind
are the equivalent proving grounds for a Kiteboards company to test the limits?
SO: There are a few worth mentioning. One for sure is riding these little boards whether they are finless or not and flying the kite
low in the power zone, a true challenge to kitesurfing's potential power. Secondly the high flying kite looping and transition manoeuvres
where kite and rider are at the same height is really a freaky experience! It won't be too long before someone is looping over their kite.
Maybe in another generation of kiters. Last but not least I truly believe the real ultimate proving ground for kiteboarding is in the waves
where all the aforementioned elements will be combined with wind, waves and body over mind experiences to try to conquer man's ultimate fear
of death. Don't worry guys, I am not off the deep end yet!
Q: What makes a really hot kiteboarder?
SO: Anyone who goes out there with a stoked smile ready to push their own personal limits and stay humble about it! Or some hot girl in
a cool bikini who throws an unhooked kiteloop! Honestly anyone who can open their mind up to ride in all the different styles of equipment
and conditions, especially in the waves, which in my opinion is going to be the next frontier of kite surfsailing.
Q: Being a kiteboard designer, shaper and builder - are you rich?
SO: Yeah right! Which credit card bill do you want to see first? This Seppo is living the true American Pipe dream. Ask yourself
why I am moving to Mexico to live there part of the time. Truly I guess I do seem to get by with my rich at heart philosophy.
But please don't come asking me for any money, the well is dry. Funny enough I did make some decent money as a pro windsurfer back
in the day but spent it all on travelling, toys, women, beer and rock and roll. In the meantime I forgot to buy a house and now I
can barely afford to pay my Maui rent. No complaints though, life has been good to me.
Q: Are you travelling much at the moment?
SO: Not much pleasure travel, mainly work travel to Italy and China lately. I have had some cool travels to Puerto Rico, Antigua
West Indies, and Mexico. Although, I can't tell you where all the cool pubs are, I have been sworn to secrecy.