Shaping the Future, One Board at a Time
Along the curves of Highway 168, just before the Wright Memorial bridge to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, sits a double arched building with a long history of surfboard manufacturing. The gravel entrance is camouflaged by forest and so unassuming it’s easy to speed right past. Being semi covert is mostly preferable though for those who spend their days here focused on shaping the future.
The location is one of the first of several facilities where WRV currently manufactures world-renowned shapes. It was built in 1986, back when the Outer Banks was little more than a popular sand dune with great surf. That dune has since grown into a major surf and vacation destination and WRV has grown with it.
In addition to supplying WRV surf shops, the site manufactures and delivers boards to an ever expanding list of wholesale dealer accounts from Maine to Florida, Puerto Rico, and beyond. Filling the delivery van are popular models like the WRV Stingray, High Performance Longboards, The Captains Log, and the classic Fun Board.
The newest WRV model created this year is The Amigo, the pseudo side-kick of El Jefe. The WRV Amigo is friendly to small gutless surf with a relatively flat deck. The model is set for release in the 2023 WRV Board Catalog and will be shown at the January 2023 Surf Expo.
The Amigo was the brainchild of WRV craftsman Bob Yinger who developed his expertise through the years while working with riders like Ben Bourgeois, Benji Weatherly, Matt Oberman, Matt Beacham, Blayr Barton, Andrew Myer, Brandon Todd, and Hector Santamaria to name a few.
The tried and true WRV Nugget is another creation bearing Yinger’s name; a high volume alternative short board with surprising agility. The Nugget has maintained unwavering popularity as the longest running, most consistent best seller in the WRV catalog line-up.
For those with a penchant for channels, there’s a new WRV mid-length 2+1 model on the way from Jordan Brazie. Another Brazie creation is the unconventional WRV Berserker, a channeled twin fin that can handle hollow waves and fast sections.
For many years, the factory location has been the headquarters of seasoned shapers like Jesse Fernandez and the late Robert “Redman” Manville who have paved the way for more contemporary shapers. Rob Kamp worked adjacent to some of these legends and now produces fine tuned shapes for the collection including the new WRV High Performance Twin with channels, the Groveler OG with wings and channels, and the mid-range model called the Trident.
These models and more fill the new WRV delivery sprinter van- a recent company purchase added to the fleet of vehicles in response to increasing demand over the past two years as business operations have dramatically expanded.
The recent Covid era not only shifted the surf market into overdrive, it also created a housing crisis in the Outer Banks. As work-from-home culture allowed transplants to buy up real estate, locals became increasingly marginalized or displaced. A challenging situation in business terms- more demand than ever combined with a waning work force.
Luckily, with some persistent ingenuity, WRV still attracts and retains new talent like shaper Leo Ravina and a slew of other noteworthy characters who collectively tint, sand and glass the boards into magical vehicles of wave riding bliss. One in particular that cannot be overlooked is Austin Walker. In 2020, Austin was launched into the champion seat of the Surfer Magazine Resin Round Up. His winning entry was his blue-green resin swirl.
Austin started sweeping floors at the WRV factory around 2000 with initial aspirations of becoming a shaper. “I paid my dues”, he says. Twenty years of hard work has clearly paid off. Although the humble master craftsman can usually be found with his nose to the grindstone, he’s had some fun along the way. Austin recalls a time years ago when he and a few other factory friends jumped off the building’s roof into piles of empty surfboard boxes.
In addition to fulfilling demand for boards branded with laminates of the world famous WRV logo, the factory also sells board building materials: everything from resin tints and catalyst to fin boxes and squeeges.
With decades of expertise, the crew daily pours heart and soul into board building here. At the core of operations is a love of surfing and the ocean lifestyle; and ultimately- getting people in the water stoked. While honoring and building on the past, in a sense, there’s no looking back when there is so much on the horizon.